Acknowledging your privilege isn’t going to be fun

Closeup of the palm of the hand of a young caucasian person with a transgender flag painted on it, against a pink background. Photo.
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Acknowledging your privilege isn’t going to be fun… and that doesn’t mean it’s not extremely important. I’m trying to get better at it.

If you think this particular post is a “subtweet” (can a blog post be a subtweet? Is there a more accurate word?) then I’m not going to lie, it might be. 

I am doing my best to acknowledge my privilege.

I am a white, cis woman. I’m undeniably middle-class. I am also thin. All of that gives me huge privilege. It isn’t cancelled out by the fact that I’m a queer woman in a heteronormative, patriarchal society, or the fact I’m mentally ill. I can walk through the world without being discriminated against because of the colour of my skin; I am not misgendered on a daily basis; I am not told that my health issues would disappear if I lost weight; and I have parents who support me financially, even if they’re mildly homophobic while doing it.

I’m incredibly privileged – I know that. I have white privilege, cis privilege, able-bodied privilege, thin privilege…  I’m doing my best to acknowledge my privilege, and frequently still fucking up.

Acknowledging your privilege is hard. It’s not fun, but it is completely necessary. Sitting in Cara Thereon’s talk ‘You don’t see me because I’m black‘ at Eroticon was hard, because I was being confronted with my own racism. Reading intersectional feminist texts frequently makes me feel very uncomfortable, I have to face the fact that it’s far more socially acceptable for a thin, middle-class, young woman to wear a t-shirt that says #PussyPower.

So I keep learning and trying to be better. And honestly? There’s only one way to work on acknowledging your privilege. What I’m trying to do here is say that when someone from a marginalised community tells you how to support them: shut the fuck up and listen.

If someone tells you how to be a better ally, you shouldn’t become defensive. If someone sets healthy boundaries and tells you what they need, you shouldn’t expect them to do the emotional labour of assuring you that they weren’t talking about you, but instead are talking about the bias they face and asking for what they need to feel validated.

If they share their lived experience, the last thing you should do is tell them that them stating their needs made you feel upset. If you feel uncomfortable when you’re told how you can be a better ally, there’s a high chance that’s because you need to work on being a better ally. When someone tells you about the injustice they face, you shouldn’t centre yourself in that discussion – especially if you are not part of the same minority group.

If something they say makes you examine your privilege, please shut up and examine your privilege. If someone – to take a totally random example here – tells you that it matters to them what pronouns you use for them, you shouldn’t ask why they’re making such a big deal out of something that seems trivial to you. In that case, you’re probably a cis person, and you’re showing your utter insensitivity to trans issues.

I’m not saying this as someone who gets things right all the time. I’m saying this as someone who is frequently oblivious to the privilege I have, despite my efforts. I’m saying this as someone who has misgendered her partner by using the wrong pronouns. I’m saying this as someone who is incredibly snobbish about literature without realising that it’s classist. I’m saying this as someone imperfect, who fucks up a lot.

I’m saying this as someone who has bucket-loads of privilege, and knows that acknowledging your privilege isn’t going to be fun. It’s not going to be fun, but I’d like to ask you to try. And honestly? Most of us need to try a lot harder.

 

As of tomorrow, I’ve been sex blogging for two whole years! If you want to help me celebrate my blog anniversary, why not buy me a coffee – the money from which, full disclosure, I will probably spend on a celebratory hot chocolate. 

Two years of sex blogging
Collective blogger positivity: eLust #123

4 Comments

  1. This is an excellent, important post. Thank you for writing and sharing it!

    So many marginalized people suggest those privileged in said areas should to shut up, listen, and learn about their own privilege, and say that it’s not gonna be comfortable… and that’s just such good advice (even if it in itself makes some people uncomfortable!). I appreciate you sharing how you’re working on doing that and recognize that it’s necessary and important & calling on others to do it too. I’m working on it!

  2. A great post Quinn, and you are right. I am increasingly aware of my biases and how my privilege has made me blind to the experiences of those who don’t share them. I fail frequently, but I’m trying to be more mindful.


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