What is Privilege?

Privilege is the state of mind that enables a person to take up more than one seat on a crowded train. As evidenced by the Tumblr Men Taking Up Too Much Space On The Train, this display of entitlement and/or obliviousness to the other people around is “a classic among public assertions of privilege.” While this Tumblr was created in jest, it offers an interesting insight into what privilege (specifically male privilege in this case) can look like. Whenever I have been on a crowded train, the person taking up more space than necessary has almost always been a man, and usually one who believes his briefcase deserves its own seat. Linking this to the privileges of the sexual hierarchy might seem extreme, but offers some potential truth. As we have discussed in class for this unit, the media teaches women to self-objectify and to be constantly conscious of their weight and physical presence while allowing men to remain as they are and encouraging them assert themselves, which may just include taking up more than one seat on a crowded train when it is personally convenient.

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