What is Privilege?

Privilege is the ability to look at those next to and in front of you with relatively no concept of those behind you. I once participated in an activity in which I was asked to step forward or step back according to my experiences. My group learned that our positions were reflections of our privilege in society. Apparently, long held realities around race and social status have not changed that much despite supposed progress.

Privilege is so powerful in that we unknowingly create structures that inherently exclude others, and we are completely unaware of this process. This makes privilege remarkably difficult to shed. For me, privilege comes in the form of gender. Although I am a female and historically subordinate to a male, I have privilege in that I am a heterosexual female who chooses to be woman. I love shopping and shoes, and I have not received much resistance to my academic pursuits. Unlike Serano, I am not constantly reminded of my purported inferiority. Therefore, I must tell myself that gender is a fluid process and learn to accept its many forms. Gender is an individual experience, and to suggest otherwise is an abuse of privilege.

Source: Serano, Julia. “Experiential Gender.” Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity. Emeryville, CA: Seal, 2007. 215-27. Print.

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