Saturday, August 16, 2008

Blogging while privileged

Some of you might have noticed that I don't blog as much about progressive issues as I used to do when I started this blog. There is a good reason for that - such posts are harder to write than posts about science discoveries and similar stuff, so when I'm busy, I tend to skip them.

That doesn't mean that I think those subjects aren't important, it's just that I postpone writing about them, until I am up for it.

You see, I can afford to do that, since those subjects are somewhat abstract for me. I'm not directly affected by these issues - I'm blogging from a position of privilege after all.

As a straight, white male, living in a country with universal health care, free education, and a solid social security network, and holding a reasonably well paid job, I can afford to ignore progressive issues. I can decide that I won't go through the trouble of trying to understand how it's like to to live from paycheck to paycheck, without any health care or job security, being judged solely by your gender, sexuality, or race.

That's the sort of things that privilege allows you to ignore. And that's what privilege keeps you from understanding.

When you're like me, it's not really possible to understand these issues from the same perspective as those not so privileged. I can write about why feminism is still relevant, citing number and studies, but it's not like I'm the one suffering from sexism (no matter what the fathers' rights movement wants you to believe).

This is a barrier. One that I'm aware of, and one that I try to take into consideration when writing on the issue, either as posts here, or as comments elsewhere. That doesn't mean I won't make blunders some times, taking things for granted from my position of privilege, but it does mean that I will think twice before I write something, and that I will stay out of certain discussions, where my position hinders me in contributing anything worthwhile.

If I think that someone from a non-privileged position is overreacting to something, I will most likely not say it, because I'm damn well aware of the fact that I don't get it. I cannot begin to understand the context in which this reaction needs to be seen. I cannot understand the history of sexism, racism, homophobia that goes before in the other person's life. I don't share the same filters, through which to see the world.

In other words, I will not judge other people from my privileged position, since I don't have that right, and there is no damn thing I can do to earn that right. I didn't do anything to earn that privilege after all.

Having said all the stuff that I won't do, I'll also say that I'll do what I can to ensure that things will change, so people won't be considered second-rate just because of their gender, their race, their sexuality, their religion. Part of this consists of continuing writing about progressive issues. Even when I'm busy, and don't feel like going through the trouble. Because that's just privilege speaking.

I started off by saying that I had a good excuse for not writing much about progressive issues. That's not true - it's not a good excuse. It's an easy excuse.

Note: I should probably make clear that this post wasn't triggered by anything anyone said. It was just the end result of a thought process I've been going through.

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Blogger Cara deBeer said...

I think this is a great point (and yes, I struggle with the same thing.) So thank you for thinking about this issue.

August 16, 2008 4:16 PM  

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