Check your privilege without giving it up

By acknowledging white privilege, one must also consider what they are going to do about it.

It makes sense to think of the disadvantages of one group as advantages toward another group. It often goes unrecognized that while women do experience disadvantages in the workforce, that proportionally puts men at an advantage.

By acknowledging white privilege, one must also consider what they are going to do about it. Once white (or male) privilege has been pointed out, we have an ethical obligation to try and combat the problem.

Male and white privilege do exist and we have an obligation to lessen them, however, I disagree with people who believe that men don’t want to help women because they aren’t willing to give up their privileges.

As a feminist, I am not interested in lessening the status of anyone else, only making sure that I am able to reach equal ground with them as a woman. I feel that, done correctly, feminism doesn’t want to strip any person of his or her privileges, but just make the same privileges attainable to everyone.

I realize that this is a lofty endeavor and one that will be difficult to execute as we are currently on a very uneven playing ground in not only gender disparities, but those of race and class as well.

As a feminist, I am not interested in lessening the status of anyone else, only making sure that I am able to reach equal ground with them as a woman.”

— Jocelyn Gibson

One way to begin combating the issue is to acknowledge your privileges. Acknowledging that you are given certain advantages because of some arbitrary social construct doesn’t mean that you have to give up the privileges now that you are aware of them.

Awareness just allows you to understand how they affect the everyday world that you operate in and realize when you are gaining something because of an arbitrary social construct or because you actually deserve it.

It is equally, or more, important to acknowledge when you are giving someone preferential treatment based on race, gender, or class because that is where you can truly make a difference.

That is where the focus in combatting the issue should lay, not in asking someone to give up privileges they didn’t realize they were receiving before. And again, it is important to focus on getting the same privileges for the groups that are commonly disadvantaged.

Jocelyn Gibson can be contacted at [email protected]