Having privilege doesn’t mean being problem-free. It means that, if life’s a game, you’re playing on an easy setting. Tackle a few problems, you level up. It seems pretty straightforward to you, so you don’t really get why other people seem to find it difficult. Huh, maybe you are a genius after all! Or everyone else is stupid, which amounts to the same thing – you’re better at Life than them.
Naturally, this feels good. So good, in fact, that you hate being told your game’s easier. You work hard at levelling up! You tell the others how to handle the challenges, and you don’t get it when your solutions don’t work for them. They must be really stupid. Even if they buy cheats, they’re way behind you. Losers.
The part where Player#1 doesn’t listen when he’s told he’s got privilege is what makes it ‘unconscious’. And the thing that gives him easier breaks is our materialist patriarchy, otherwise known as ‘Life’.
White, able, youngish men with money and education get the most privileges – that’s not to say they don’t face challenges; it’s more that other people face worse, harder ones. What makes Player#1 so annoying is his assumption that he deserves the breaks, and his challenges are more important than everyone else’s. If you say he’s wrong, he knows he isn’t: it must be you!
If something’s bothering him, everybody should care about his woes – and never mind the losers, they’re probably to blame for his problems anyway! He has no real understanding that other people’s lives are harder than his – and doesn’t care. Unconscious privilege can make people pretty nasty sometimes.
Women get this all the time from men. Men telling us it’s our fault; men telling us what we are and what to do, what to think; men telling us their stuff matters while ours is trivial. Player#1 on the easy setting is a pain in the arse – and sometimes very dangerous.
When we aren’t fighting him, we laugh about him. No, he doesn’t like it and he’s sure we’ve got him all wrong: his unconscious privilege is showing!
There used to be a Tumblr called “Privilege Denying Dude” where visitors could make their own versions. Enjoy! You’re welcome to add your own PDD moments in the comments.
Tags: conditioning, entitlement, intersectionality, male privilege, patriarchy, sexism
This post was written by Cherry Austin