Thursday, June 18, 2009

Privilege - an analogy

So I was over on Feministing Community reading this post about privilege, and I came across this in the comments. Despite a few typos and such, this is such an awesome analogy about privilege that I had to blog about it myself. Pretty awesome stuff.

I am a fan of the starting line/road race analogy to explain privilege to those who use the "free will pull yourself up by your bootstraps" argument.

Imagine the starting line of a race with runners representing different groups in society lined up and a finish line in the distance.
Your boyfriend would say 1.) That everyone starts at the same line because the only that matters is whether you don't call yourself a victim and perservere and 2.)Anyone who just keeps running and doesn't give up will finish the race.

The race starts.

The white, heterosexual cis-man can just run towards the finish line and he'll get there based on who he is: how in shape he is, how long he feels like stopping, whether he runs or walks or jogs. There will be relatively few obstacles outside of his own ability.

Other groups however, have hurdles to jump over, and people yelling on the sidelines that they shouldn't be running or that their technique is flawed or that their uniforms are inappropriate. Some of them are not allowed to stop running even if they are too tired to continue and some of them can't afford water to stay hydrated or proper shoes to run in.

Still others were pushed back starting line farther away from the first one because they didn't "qualify" to run in the original race with everybody else.

None of the runners gives up or complains because they are "choosing" to "overcome their circumstances and not be victims" but does that make the race fair or all the runners equally privileged/disadvantaged?

Choosing not to be a victim of circumstance is a character trait, not having to face any circumstances that could make you a victim is privilege.

Hope that helps!

-by ferocita72

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