What ‘privilege’ means to me

Recently there’s been some back and forth on feminist blogs about the term “privilege”, beginning with “Shut Up, Rich Boy”: The Problem With “Privilege.” and continuing with several responses defending the use of the term.

Here’s what the feminist term of art “privilege” means to me.

1. I, as a straight white male, am being what feminists called “othered” – that is, consigned to a category of the threateningly alien that justifies misbehavior ranging from verbal assault all the way up to actual violence and organized political coercion.

2. The speaker is uninterested in (or outright incapable of) seeing beyond race/gender/ascriptive-identity labels to the individual reality of individuals in the “privileged” category.

3. The speaker is stuck in an epistemically-closed belief system, and will interpret logical or fact-based criticism of it as a power-seeking maneuver. Reasoned argument with this person is thus essentially impossible.

4. The speaker has failed to apply power-relations analysis to her (or his) own behavior, and so does not realize that use of the term “privilege” passes all that theory’s tests for a power-seeking maneuver intended to suppress thought under the pretense of provoking it.

5. If the speaker has not already attempted to kafkatrap me, such an attempt is near certain within the next few minutes.

That is all.

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