The same thing happens when discussing, class, poverty, crime, beauty standards, fat acceptance, natural hair, and anything where people are not equal. I think that complainers want others to either somehow give up their privilege to them. Or they want others to feel very guilty, as though they have wrongfully taken the privilege away from the complainers! For example, if someone has the privilege of going to university, wants to marry someone with the same privilege, and wants to send their kids to university too what is wrong with that? Why are they made to feel guilty about the opportunity they have been given? I mean if you win a free car would you refuse to drive it because other people didn't win cars? If you have good health are you going to try to catch diseases because other people were not so lucky? If you live in a safe neighbourhood are you going to hang out in dangerous neighbourhoods so that you can risk your life too? It doesn't make sense to me to do any of those things. That would be throwing away the good thing that you have and wasting your opportunity that others would be grateful for. Maybe you didn't work for your privileges but maybe your parents and ancestors sacrificed a lot for you to have them. It is disrespectful to them for you to not accept their gifts.
Isn't giving up privileges like throwing away money, safety, health, positive relationships, and positive experiences? Is someone a bad person if they don't want to give those things up? If you got a promotion would you give that up to another coworker because they had a hard life? Would you turn down a scholarship that you need because you haven't suffered as much as someone else? Would you refuse to marry the love of your life because other people didn't have the chance to marry? This also reminds me of dating and the way some women are stating their standards including only wanting a man who is educated and who has a certain type of job or social class. Some men will get so upset and insisting that their standards are too high because of A, B, and C bad circumstances that happened or they were born into. They want to be given the same chance as men who meet the women's standards and ignore all of the privileges they would be giving up. What I feel for them is pity and I will not date someone out of pity.
Sometimes it sounds as if people are saying "since you have more privileges than me you are not allowed to complain as much as I do. You also have to put up with my unpleasant behaviour without complaint". Seriously, when you hear the reaction of people to certain things in the news it sounds like they feel that, because of inequality, crimes committed by Black people, poor people, people without fathers, people who have been abused, people from dangerous neighborhoods etc. should be excused and get a free pass while others are punished for the same behaviours. I think what they mean is don't blame the person but blame their circumstances. But if the circumstances of a whole bunch of people are horrible and that causes them to be unpleasant then how can that be ignored? They make life unpleasant for anyone who comes in contact with them. I know that Black people are often punished more harshly for the same crime but people act like there should be no punishment at all or something way too lenient given the crime. A dangerous person is a dangerous person and I want them to be prevented from harming others no matter what caused them to be that way in the first place.
At other times it sounds like, "since you have so much privilege you need to do something to help me get the same privileges even it that would mean losing something yourself". Why should anyone feel compelled to give up the good things they have? Is it even possible to give up one's privilege? They would either have to share more, sacrifice time and resources, or sometimes risk a lot in order to help others. These sacrifices are usually only done for family and close friends (or through work or volunteering) because everyone's resources and time is limited. But if that is what less fortunate people are asking for then they should come out and admit that! Admit that they want you to feel guilty or sad for them, that they want you to fight for their cause and tell their story, and that they want you to comfort them. If you want people to fight for you then stop with the guilt trips that make people want to avoid you! If you just want comfort then be nice because no one wants to comfort a jerk! Be honest because that's the only way people will know how to react to you and give you what you need.
I've noticed these mixed messages in posts about colourism where the poster and commenters are asking for more appreciation of women with darker skin tones or certain facial features, typically someone who looks like India Arie. But let's be honest, if that happens then women who don't look like India Arie (including many BW) will have fewer chances to see women who look like them. This would be fine if there were many examples of BW in the media, but BW are already underrepresented. I think that some BW are just more acceptable to the mainstream (i.e., most White people and most other racial minorities in Western countries). I think BM are fine with the BW in the media today (not hearing complaints). It is mainly dark skinned women who are complaining and sometimes being downright hateful towards lighter skinned women. Other people may be willing to help their cause but they should not be surprised if lighter skinned women end up pitying or even disliking them. They should also not be surprised when people who did not think dark skin was a drawback have now learned that it is because dark skinned women worked so hard to convince them this was a fact.
Lastly, there are certain privileges that come from being a woman but they are being slowly eroded at the request of some feminists. I think it is actually a privilege to be the ones who are not expected to fight, get hurt, and do the heavy and dirty work. We are the ones who are protected by men when they are expected to protect themselves. It is a privilege to have doors opened for us, to go first, to have dates paid for and I really appreciate those things. I don't feel entitled to them but I do like them. We also get to wear feminine clothes and makeup or dress like men with little disapproval but men who dress like women face much harsher criticism. Men have many privileges too but this post isn't about them. I think feminists want us to give up these privileges so that everyone treats men and women exactly the same. Some of them even want men and women to look the same (androgynous). The extremists wouldn't mind if we ignored biological sex all together and just partnered with any human being. Some are big proponents of casual sex and open relationships, and some think marriage is antiquated and should be forgotten, yet others are fighting hard for same-sex marriage? Personally, I don't want to give up any of my feminine privileges.
When it is pointed out that other people are suffering and have things harder than I do I can't help but feel pity. Pity is defined as:
1. Sympathy and sorrow aroused by the misfortune or suffering of another.
2. A matter of regret: It's a pity she can't attend the reception.
Synonyms: compassion, commiseration, sympathy, condolence, empathy
These nouns signify kindly concern aroused by the misfortune, affliction, or suffering of another. Pity often implies a feeling of sorrow that inclines one to help or to show mercy: felt pity for the outcast.
I'm wondering how someone who is complaining about their horrible life could be surprised that someone pities them? As you can see from the definition, when someone tells a story of their misfortune and suffering then people feel pity, concern, or even that they need to help the person. THIS IS THE NATURAL REACTION and (even though people will deny it) this was the reason for the sob story in the first place. The story teller wanted people to feel bad or guilty, to be extra nice, or even offer to help to them. I do not think this is a bad thing whatsoever. But what I think is unfair is making people feel bad for pitying others. Hey I won't feel sorry for you if you stop telling me things that make me feel sorry for you! Furthermore, when the story tellers get offended by the pity and call it "paternalistic" or "patronizing" it's really weird because I think these people don't even know what they want! They are doing something (i.e., telling a sad story of misfortune) and expecting people to not have the natural reaction to that story (i.e., feel pity)??? These same people complain when others don't pay attention to their stories, dismiss them, or refuse to help but this is what people do when they don't have pity or compassion for you. People can either care or not care!
The story of what went on at the Before and Afro blog is a great real life example of this. In the latest installment the blogger describes how a man with an afro inspired her to sponsor a child in the Philippines. But lo and behold, in the comments section someone criticized the blogger for being paternalistic and sponsoring the child just so the blogger would feel good about herself! She was also criticized for trying to get attention and approval by writing on her blog...newsflash many people blog, talk, and socialize because they enjoy the attention and that is healthy and normal! You really can't win with these people who I believe are actually perpetual complainers. Just read through her other blog posts and see how she was pulled every which way and how everything she did was pulled apart. While some are telling her she should devote her blog to discussing racism and how to stop it others are saying it is paternalistic and not her place to do so. While some are telling her ways that she can appreciate Black people others are rejecting every attempt she has made to do so. I'm surprised she hasn't said, "forget all of you people you people are CRAZY!!!" I think that in order to get people to fight for your privileges then you have to be nice to them because they are doing you a favor that could actually reduce the amount of privilege they have. They are sacrificing something for you that might not even create the intended effects. I don't expect people to give up their privileges unless it's to someone close to them. I don't expect a person to give anything up to someone who is hostile or blames the person for all of the blamer's problems. I think they will only do it if you are nice so they like you, they feel sorry for you, they think it will make life better for everyone in the long run, or they think it is morally or ethically the right thing to do.
So I honestly want to know, 1) When you complain to people that they need to recognize their privilege what exactly do you want them to say or do? 2) Why do you need them to recognize their privilege and how does that benefit you?
Do you recognize your privilege? Actually being a first generation Canadian I have a lot of the privileges on this list meant for White people. In regards to the items that do apply to me (e.g., working in places with few visible minorities) I still survive and I'm not sure what effect more BP would have on me. I won't necessarily get along with them or like them and what if they were actually stereotypical and bad coworkers? Plus, the blogger just asks people to recognize their privileges but I'm again left with the question, once these things are recognized then what?
Is privilege offensive? Equally vague. Seems like they expect people to police others for saying or doing things deemed "oppressive". That's risky for someone who is supposed to be oppressed to go around policing the members of the oppressive group and not expect any negative repercussions. I'm just trying to live and I don't feel like being the speech police. I'm busy trying to get along and not get into arguments.
Recognizing class privilege. Basically in this article it seems that the writer just wants people to see and admit that they have privileges that helped them to become successful and it was not just their hard work. Just like the other articles there is this hint that the purpose of this recognition is so that they can understand why things are harder for others. Ok, so now I understand...now what? I think what they don't want to say is that they want us to be more lenient and give more chances to people with less privileges.
That's fine if you are talking about work or school opportunities (i.e., affirmative action) but this stuff doesn't apply when it comes to personal lives. If due to someone's lack of privilege they can't support themselves, they are mean, they do drugs, or they have nothing in common with me then I won't be their friend/date them. They would be unpleasant to be around and could bring me down. I'll be friends with someone if we get along and they don't bring me down and most often I've found it's people who have had similar lives to mine. So once again, since I'm not planning on being an activist, how does recognizing my privilege help anyone? I'll be nice to people who are less fortunate but that's all. I guess they don't want to be blamed entirely for their circumstances...that's fine but I don't think anyone can totally be absolved of responsibility either. Either way, this is all about talk, not hurting people's feelings, and being sensitive about what you say. It's a lot of fuss about saying things the right way when I think there are more important things to focus on.