I’m still thinking about “privilege” and its discontents. It interestes me, for several reasons, not just the ones that have to do with Ron’s talk at Women in Secularism 2 and the disagreements and battles that ensued.
Sometimes (often in fact) people hear things that aren’t intended in the use of any particular claim or word or phrase. Words and phrases can be used in many ways, some of them less reasonable than others.
Is that enough platitudes to get us started?
I do have a point. I’m thinking that one thing people who bristle at the word “privilege” hear is an added “unearned” in front of it. That can be massively annoying if one has in fact earned the privilege in question (or the privilege one thinks is in question even though in fact it isn’t).
Maybe you can see where I’m heading.
Often these discussions happen between men who have some power and influence and women who have much less. The tricky part there is that usually the men have the power and influence because they’ve earned them. Not always, and even less always all of it – the more power and influence you get, the more you can leverage it to get more and to squelch people who are trying to compete with you, sometimes in illegitimate ways. But apart from inherited “nobility” and people born rich and the like, usually power and influence (and piles of cash) have been earned at least to some extent. In some cases they’ve been earned with real talent and effort.
The word “privilege” can sound to such people like a denial of the earning. Sometimes it even is that.
That’s got to be annoying. You know? “Yes, I’m Mr Big, but I’m Mr Big because I’ve written ten critically-acclaimed best-sellers about science and atheism. Is that a bad thing? And by the way I’m not preventing you from trying to do the same thing. Go ahead!”
So that’s one item. I’d say more but I have an appointment, so later.