Archive for the ‘semantics’ Category

privilege

Sunday, August 19th, 2007

In a discussion about feminism, the word privilege came up. White males were asserted to possess the attribute described by that word. The participle being privileged. White males are privileged.

I have several close friends who are white males. Ok, I admit it, I am one myself. As such I’m especially sensitive to issues surrounding that particular classification of people.

The question I asked myself was why that word, privilege, made me feel so bad when I heard it.

The answer was that what I had, I felt that I had by right. Not that I deserved it, especially, in any theological sense, but that it was at least by right that I have it. This stuff being my home and stuff, and general condition of existence. It doesn’t seem wrong.

It is pointed out that I have so many more opportunities than do non white males. I pointed out that because I seek none of those opportunities, neither in career, nor in possessions, that I have personally not felt privileged.

Subsequently it was proposed that I am privileged to be in such a life condition that I have not those materialistic desires.

I became curious why the word privilege was so important a word within this particular conversation.

I recognized that there was a connotation to the idea of privilege, that privilege itself obligates the one privileged.

This illuminated for me an actor behind the argument. Not the messenger, to whom I was speaking directly. Rather, the message. A movement had spoken. Its intention is to obligate white males.

I feel it personally, but did not “take it personally” from the messenger.

I commented that the space of human culture is vast and rich. When there is a special focus on any one thing, all other things – also rich in meaning – must necessarily be given less than their due.

This is a reason to avoid having a narrow focus too much of the time.