I am a feminist. I am a straight, white, middle class, cisgendered and able-bodied feminist. I hit the metaphorical lottery at birth; I am a person of many privileges.
There’s this pervasive (and mistaken) belief that skin colour is the only thing that precipitates privilege. It’s not. You can be privileged because of your educational background, the religion you follow, or your sexual orientation. An educated person of colour, for example, can have privilege while simultaneously being oppressed.
Today, white feminists are upset by the fact that this critical feminist concept of privilege is slowly being pushed into the mainstream. The feminists that flounder because this notion is gaining ground are those who refuse to acknowledge that they benefit from a white supremacist hetero-normative patriarchy.
So I am here to acknowledge.
I hope to use my privileges to instill positive change, promote peace, and be an ally for all those suffering through disadvantages which I can never completely relate to or understand. It is only through this acknowledgement that I can begin to be a proper ally.
So here are just a few of the privileges that follow me every day:
I was born straight, have always identified as straight, and have never questioned my sexuality.
When my sexual curiosity peaked I had the option to comfortably discuss it with my parents and teachers. If this was too awkward for me I could educate myself through pop culture or talk to any of my friends without fear of rejection.
When I would walk hand-in-hand with my significant other people would smile at us and make those 'how cute is that' eyes.
If and when I decide I would like to get married, no one will cry out in anger against this personal life decision.
I am cisgender; I have always identified as such, and have never questioned my gender.
When I was in ‘family education’ (aka sex ed) class in elementary school, learning about my body, I identified with the gender that my teacher labeled me.
I can go to a public space and neither hesitate nor feel uncomfortable when I walk into a gender-specific washroom.
I can sign a public document and always see the gender with which I identify represented as an option.
When I was growing up, there was no need to discuss whether or not I would have to work part-time during high school. With no financial constraints, I had the freedom to participate in extra-curricular activities and dedicate myself to my studies.
When I wanted to attend university, there was no question. When I wanted to study international development there was no concern that my chosen field of study would not lead me straight to secure employment.
I am Caucasian. I was born into a family of European decent and have never been made to feel ashamed of my heritage.
When I walk into a classroom or boardroom full of people, I am not the racial minority.
If I am accepted into university or hired for a job, others do not dismiss my achievements as merely being a result of affirmative action and diversity quotas.
When I pay for a product or service, my skin color will not work against the appearance of my financial reliability.
I can go into a music shop and count on finding the music of my race represented, into a supermarket and find the staple foods that align with my cultural traditions, and into a hairdresser’s shop and find someone who can comfortably cut my hair.
I am a person with no physical disabilities/different abilities. I was born able bodied and have to date enjoyed a life free from physical limitations.
When my friends make plans I do not have to be concerned about my ability to fully participate.
I can go to a public establishment and be confident I will be able to navigate the entire building.
I can comment about an activity being strenuous without people judging me or taking pity of me.
I can join an activity without people preemptively questioning my abilities.
Fellow spoiled white feminists:
Do you see how privileged I am? How privileged you are?
You probably haven’t really thought about it before, which is of course, part of the problem. Ignorance is another luxury of privilege – you can ignore these daily injustices because you do not have to live through them.
But it is only once we open our eyes and begin to notice the privileges we carry, the privileges which others are denied.
It is only once we publically acknowledge our privileges that we can start making some real change.