Tuesday 2 February 2021

Is Privilege Really A Privilege?

(Photo credit: https://politicsofpoverty.oxfamamerica.org/should-we-be-ashamed-of-privilege/)

According to Oxford Languages (read: Google search), privilege is "a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group."

I've always considered privilege to be associated with, or connected to riches, wealth and things only the 1% have.

Expensive private schools, luxury items, having a massive house/penthouse apartment on the water or acreage, frequently travelling first class overseas on a whim, or maybe for business, etc.

As I've delved further into adulthood and met people from all walks of life, I've noticed that the divide between privileged and non, really isn't as big as I once thought. At least not when you look at various situations from a lens of humanity. 

(Photo credit to: https://www.lepide.com/blog/how-does-privilege-separation-improve-it-security/)

I went to a personal development event a few years ago, and during the dinner afterwards I was talking to a few different people and mentioned how, as human beings, we're really not that much different from each other, regardless of our living circumstances.

One of the people I was talking to agreed and told the story of someone she once met who worked on a popular TV series and seemed to come from an affluent family. They, or someone they knew who associated with similar circles, had gone to a clinic to learn more about reproductive health and the person who told me the story had been blown away that someone who came from wealth and privilege, knew as much about sexual health as someone from a third world country, or just a lower socio-economic area. 

(Photo credit to: https://www.edsurge.com/news/2018-01-21-personalized-learning-is-a-problem-of-privilege)

A year or so ago I was an assistant for a dance concert and was talking to one of the other assistants during the lunch break. She told me about her living situation and how she was renting a place her mother owned and at one point had had to kick out a former housemate who's cleaning habits were non-existent. 

She told me how said housemate would leave half eaten bowls of food in her room for days, maybe weeks, until they couldn't figure out where the dishes and cutlery had disappeared to and the effects of having food sitting around a bedroom for so long further impacted the rest of the house.

The housemate's mother complained when the housemate was asked to leave, and insisted that they hadn't done anything wrong. The mother came over one day and when asked to vacuum, asked how the vacuum worked. 

I was astounded when I heard the story and wondered what kind of wealth this person had come from that they had no idea how a vacuum worked, or apparently what cleanliness was. 

It made me question whether privilege as I knew it to be, really was a privilege. 

(Photo credit to: https://medium.com/hackernoon/the-network-effects-of-privilege-ba254d5385c0)

Does having the best of everything really make you privileged, or just wealthy? What would happen if that was all taken away? 

I don't typically consider knowing how to do basic chores a privilege, but is knowing how to be self-reliant better than having no idea and everything being done for you?  

Is being privileged as I, or you know it, really a privilege? 

Don't get me wrong, luxuries are great and if you're someone who grew up with the silver spoon life, good for you. I think many of us would strive for that kind of lifestyle, while the rest think it's unachievable, or just don't care and are happy as they are. 

Is having more that you could possibly want, really the greatest thing in life? Sure it opens far more doors than not having it does, but my idea of privilege comes with great responsibility, pressures and an image or reputation to maintain, with a side of somewhat limited life skills because there's people to do that for you. There's not really any room for emotions, feelings, or the things that make you human, and I personally couldn't live like that.


(Photo credit to: https://www.vogue.com.au/culture/features/what-is-privilege/news-story/dec611027eb7cc390fb90c57f99bd858)