After a conversation with a couple of classmates regarding privilege, I decided to see if I could detect some of the implicit advantages I have within American society as a young, white, heterosexual, Christian male.
My list is far from comprehensive; I made this inventory at roughly 2 am while trying to keep myself awake at work. That being said, if I can come up with these things at this ungodly hour when my body expects to be sleeping, those on normal sleeping patterns should be able to do the same or better.
So here’s the drill, I will list each “privilege” followed by whichever aspect of my social/cultural/… status it stems from.
Example: (and please forgive me, again this was at 2 am or so): I don’t have to worry about being “ogled,” i.e. reduced to a sexual object (gender).
Explanation: as a heterosexual male, culture has taught me that I should be the one objectifying women.
Ok, so here’s the list:
1. I don’t have to worry about getting second glances when I get onto a plane (ethnicity).
2. I don’t have to worry about having to show my papers when traveling in states like Arizona or Alabama (ethnicity)
3. I, as a man, make more on average than a female in the same position (gender)
4. My health costs are lower (age).
5. People don’t tend to move to the other side of the sidewalk when I’m walking towards them on a city sidewalk (ethnicity)
6. Every advertiser markets to me and wants my business (age).
7. My religious holidays also happen to be national holidays (religion).
8. My sexual orientation is considered “normal” (sexual orientation).
9. I’m far less likely to be the victim of a sexual assault (gender).
10. I don’t have to worry about getting pregnant (gender).
11. As a man married to a woman, I get some nice tax breaks (sexual orientation).
12. I’m able to add my spouse to my health insurance (sexual orientation).
13. Statistically, I’m much more likely to graduate high school (ethnicity).
That’s what I came up with. Funny enough, as I was driving home and listening to conservative talk radio (it’s a good way to stay awake when you are tired), a caller mentioned that “life is about choices” and that “this country has an entitlement problem.” Well, I know that what he (no surprise, right!) was thinking is that people who are poor are basically reaping the consequences of their poor choices and that those who get federal aid like Social Security and Medicare are greedy and unthankful. Well, based on my list alone, I have had “choices” available to me that weren’t even an option for others.
Oops, the homosexual or unwed couple are actually reaping the consequences of their bad decisions when they face huge medical bills due to their inability to get health insurance. Same goes with the pregnant, unwed mother; clearly she made a bad choice having sex and why should America “reward” her bad decisions by giving her government aid???
Seems to me this country does have an entitlement problem, except the problem is that those who are actually entitled are completely unwilling to admit or even recognize their entitlement!
“I got this Ivy League education and 6 figure job all by my hard work and personal responsibility. The fact that I had two parents, lived in a house with a 3-car garage, went to school in a suburban community that featured top-notch public education, and that my college was paid for by those same parents had nothing to do with my success now! I am a self-made man.”
Perhaps even more disturbing is that much of this talk comes from evangelical Christians, folks who should be thanking God for every good thing they get in life. Shouldn’t that at least produce some humility at least? Like, “God was gracious enough to give me this McMansion, Land Rover, and $200,000 a year job. I’m really blessed.” (I’m puking as I write this).
So while my bank account doesn’t seem to reflect as much as I’d like my “entitled” status, I’d be a fool if I didn’t recognize some of the advantages I as a young, white, heterosexual, Christian male have in life. I’d also be a fool if I refused to continually acknowledge advantages I have beyond my above list.
I guess in some ways I agree with that caller...
Life is about choices = the ones not available to all
This country does have an entitlement problem = those who have reaped great benefits from their cultural/ethnic/… advantages are unwilling to admit it