Big concepts like privilege are so much more than their basic definitions! Behind every case of privilege is an imbalance of power – invisible to those who possess it, and ever-present for those who don’t.
- Privilege is defined as a set of unearned benefits given to people who fit into a specific social group or due to certain aspects of their identity. Those aspects can include race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, and religion, as well as privilege related to wealth and class.
- Having privilege means having an advantage that is completely out of your control and that you might not have even asked for.
- Privilege is how power is shared in our society.
It is hard to acknowledge one’s own privilege because privilege is the other side of oppression.
Most of us are likely to benefit from more than one of the following kinds of privilege listed below. We can’t control the privilege we’ve been given, but we can pay attention to how our privilege impacts others.
🚻 White privilege:
White privilege is the societal privilege that, in many countries, benefits white people over non-white people. It’s the type of privilege that everyone has heard of. Yet, it remains a controversial issue that can be hard to grasp for those with the privilege.For non-white people, the existence of white privilege is ever-present and noticeable even in little everyday encounters. It can even include having to search high and low to find ‘nude-coloured’ products, like band-aids, tights or make-up or turning on the TV to find that nobody on the show has the same skin colour as you.
🛐 Religious privilege:
Religious privilege certainly depends on where in the world you are living. It means being able to find a place of worship near you and to be able to attend religious ceremonies if you want to. It means automatically having a day off work or school during religious holidays without having to worry about asking to take paid leave.
For example, in most parts of the western world, religious privilege refers to Christian privilege. Having Christian privilege can manifest in many forms. Like, come December, most stores usually play music that celebrates your religion and your holiday which would seem perfectly normal to you but may not be very inclusive of other religions that may/may not have observations around the same period.
🚹 Gender privilege:
Gender privilege usually refers to male privilege, meaning a set of privileges granted to men on the basis of their gender. To this day, there are still many different ways in which men receive benefits not given to women.
How men are centered is everywhere. Even common vocabulary favours male gender as the default, with language like “mankind” and “foreman”.
It might come as a surprise that a huge number of popular movies fail the Bechdel Test which measures whether a story (in books, movies or screenplays) includes at least two women who talk to each other about anything other than a man test. Amongst the list are all-time favourites such as Star Wars, The Social Network and the entire Lord Of The Rings trilogy.
👫 Heterosexual privilege:
‘Straight’ privilege and cis-gendered privilege is the receiving of advantages that are favourably granted to someone solely because of their heterosexual orientation or the gender they identify with.
Possessing this privilege means never having to worry about which bathroom you can or cannot use, or about feeling unsafe when holding hands with your significant other in public. It means to be able to book a holiday, without having to wonder what your holiday-destinations’ views are on LGBTQ politics. Straight privilege means never having to ‘come out’ or to be able to talk about your partner at your workplace, without having to fear a negative reaction from a coworker.
Socio-economic privilege is a complex concept because it looks very different for everyone. While to some people it means being able to afford luxury goods, to others it means being able to afford to go to university or simply to have a roof over your head and a place to sleep at night.Having socio-economic privilege doesn’t necessarily mean being rich, but it means having enough resources to be able to take on the opportunities that life has given you, such as unpaid internships or an after-school tutoring job – little privileges that would give you a head start in the job market.
Source: The Pencilsword
The bottom line?
Most of us are privileged in at least one way. That doesn’t mean we didn’t work hard or that we didn’t experience any other hardships in life. Privilege can be hard to admit and even harder to talk about but it is important to understand one’s own privilege so we can give a voice to those less privileged.
In order to use your own privilege for good and to be a good ally you have to be aware, listen and speak up. Focus on equity instead of equality so that everyone is given what they need to be successful.
💬 Speak your mind
How are you creating an inclusive and equitable environment at your workplace? We’re always keen to hear your stories! Drop your comments, feedback, or whatever else you’d like to share with us here.
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