I’m reading Mistakes Were Made (but not by me). Long overdue. Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson.
There’s a bit on the idea of anger and venting or catharsis that I recognize from Tavris’s book Anger, which has always spoken to me. That’s because I’ve sat through so many work meetings where people “got their issues out into the open” and everybody talked piously about how this would make things so much better, and I always noticed that it did no such thing, it made them worse. When people vent their anger they don’t then sigh and smoke a cigarette and feel all happy and relaxed. They get more angry.
More on that later. First there’s a part where they’re talking about what I think is the fundamental attribution error but they don’t call it that. My long involvement in issue X makes me an expert; your long involvement in issue X makes you prejudiced. (Aka irregular verbs – I’m committed, you’re prejudiced, she’s a zealot.)
Then there’s a branch of that – and what do we find…
All of us are as unaware of our blind spots as fish are unaware of the water they swim in, but those who swim in the waters of privilege have a particular motivation to remain oblivious.
The what?! The waters of what now?!! Privilege!? That’s crazy talk! That’s crazy dogmatic radfem talk. Send help.
When Marynia Farnham [discussed earlier in the book] achieved fame and fortune during the late 1940s and 1950s by advising women to stay at home and raise children, otherwise risking frigidity, neurosis, and a loss of femininity, she saw no inconsistency (or irony?) in the fact that she was privileged to be a physician who was not staying at home raising children, including her own two. When affluent people speak of the underprivileged, they rarely bless their lucky stars that they are privileged, let alone consider that they might be overprivileged. Privilege is their blind spot. It is invisible; they don’t think twice about it; they justify their social position as something they are entitled to. In one way or another, all of us are blind to whatever privileges life has handed to us, even if those privileges are temporary. [pp 43-4]
They even go on to talk about drivers having blind spots in their field of vision.
These are two pretty respected social psychologists, here. They’re not wild-eyed dogmatic MarxoStasio witch-hunting feminazis.