Privilege… you has it.

So In general I stay away from the comment sections of things because the internet is full of trolls and I have better things to do than poke my own eyes out with a fork. However the following exchange is such a perfect example of how privilege operates that I couldn’t resist from posting.

Context: This is from the comment section of a web comic I sometimes read called punch an pie. It is a pretty good comic. The following exchange occurred under the friday pinup which was a female character from a movie. (I don’t know what movie)

Punch an Pie comments

In what I have come to see as typical, a white man tells a woman of colour that if  she could just loosen up she wouldn’t see sexism and racism everywhere.

When accused of being dismissive and privileged, He freaks out and calls her sexist and racist for pointing out he is a white man.

Some other people jump in with bizarre bigoted view points about how being a white man is actually not an advantage in society.

The OP responds in a reasonable manner challenging his assumptions of her delusions.  to which he responds with


Punch an Pie comments

To break it down:

1) Being able to ignore/not see racism/sexism or other oppression is a symptom of privilege you can ignore it or don’t see it because it does not effect you. This means you have some degree of privilege. Telling a woman of colour that she just needs to chill out and she won’t see racism or sexism all the time, or that those things are just in her head is both rude and clearly showing your privilege. If you want to claim to not have privilege you might not want to do this.

2) You can have some types of privilege and not others. A lack of class/economic privilege does not wipe out your race and gender privilege. Different oppressions and privileges interact with each other. This is what in academic and activist circles is called intersectionality. My class privilege mitigates some of my other oppressions and your lack of it can partially remove layers of your privilege. However it does not get rid of it entirely, just as mine does not erase my oppressions entirely. Privilege is a structural beast not an individual one and whiteness is something that comes with bucket loads of privilege.

3) This could have been a respectful discussion about the film, but as so many in fandom are wont to do to individuals who critique things they like,  the original poster was simply silenced, told that her points were delusional and that she should go away. Critiquing things is fundamentally about making things better, making stories better, making characterisation more rounded.

I consume media that I find problematic all the time because I have to. If I didn’t I probably wouldn’t have anything to watch or read or listen to. I don’t expect media to be perfect, and I don’t waste my time critiquing things I don’t like. I want the media I love to be better and so I point out when it fucks up.

I understand that being told you have privilege makes you uncomfortable and no as I said in my last post it is not your fault that you have it, but being so callous and dismissive of someones concerns about oppression is really unconscionable.

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