What Privilege Is

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 7.236% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

A female friend of mine was debating whether she should post pictures of herself on her blog. She’s a pretty girl who thinks some shots of her daily life would add some flair to an otherwise-texty page, but also had some concerns about strangers knowing what she looks like.
And I almost said – almost – “That’s silly.  I’ve posted pictures of myself all over my blog, and I’ve never had issues.”
Then I thought about being a guy vs. being a girl on the Internet.  As a (pudgy) guy, I’m highly unlikely to have creepers coming after me, but that happens for women.  As a guy, I’ve had people make personal insults about me based on my looks, but rarely had my whole blogging career judged on whether I’m handsome (“what an attention whore!”) or ugly (“can’t get a girlfriend, so whores it up on the Internet for affection!”).  I have had to fend off very few unwanted dates, have had zero rape threats, and very few unflattering Photoshops.
So just as I was about to offer one-size-fits-all suggestions, I swallowed it back and went, “Oh. Yeah.  That could be an issue.  How good are you at dealing with mouthbreathers?”  And so I attempted to be genuinely helpful in solving the issue.
That’s all you really need to do with privilege, man.  You don’t have to rend your shirt and spill blood to make up for the inequities of the universe.  What you have to do is occasionally stop, realize that your lifestyle shields you from bumps that other people have to deal with, and consider your words a little more carefully before weighing in with advice.
It doesn’t mean you should shut up.  It means you should think a little harder before speaking if you’re attempting to be helpful.  Which, you know, generally?  Not a bad thing to do.

1 Comment

  1. Katie
    Jun 9, 2013

    <3 Thank you! This is exactly what I mean when I tell people to check their privilege – I wish more folks got it!

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