Natalie Reed discusses losing ‘male privilege’ in her transition to life as a woman.
by Natalie Reed (http://www.freethoughtblogs.com/nataliereed)
By far one of the most challenging obstacles to building a meaningful dialogue about privilege is the extreme ease with which we’re able to take it for granted. Quick: when was the last time you thought about proprioception? Unless you’re a neurologist, or read a lot of Oliver Sacks, the answer could very well be “never, I guess”. We don’t think about it because we’ve never gone without it. Proprioception, the sense of ownership of one’s body and the ability to know the location of different parts of it, the ability to sense its position in physical space without relying on other sensory cues, is something completely, totally innate; something we can have difficulty even imagining living without. Unless for some reason (stroke, brain damage, etc.) we end up losing it, it’s something we just don’t think or worry about.
Privilege can work similarly. Many of the more prominent types of privilege- along lines of race or sex- are things we are born into and have never really lived without. Even in cases where it is technically possible for the privileged group to “pass” as the unprivileged group, or vice versa, an attempt to pass as other is rarely made by the privileged, except perhaps as a sociological experiment, such as Black Like Me. Passing as the privileged group, though, such as a gay man or lesbian being in the closet, is far more common, but doesn’t add much to the dialogue since they’re not the ones who are able to ignore the issue or take it for granted. They receive constant (often daily) reminders of being on a lower rung of the social ladder.