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Talk:Privilege/Archive1

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I reckon...[edit]

I reckon this is also a very much abused concept, seemingly it's used as a replacement for an actual argument and to dismiss people. It's practically a drinking game with some bloggers. But then again, I must be privileged. Scarlet A.pngnarchist 09:07, 5 January 2012 (UTC)

Very much agreed. I would suggest adding a section explaining and/or parodying this term's all-too-frequent abuse, particularly on the Internet. I'm a little wary about the content of the article itself as-is too, as it reads a little too close to a Tumblr blog for comfort. Some problems with defining the concept are pointed out below (in between all the screaming and semantics), but I think there's a lot more to talk about and I'm a little disappointed to see that that debate seems to have gone silent. 74.8.88.191 (talk) 21:54, 4 December 2012 (UTC)
By what definition do you call it "very much abused"? I mean, any concept can be abused, but the reason the idea of privilege (as defined here) is so problematic to so many people is that it is not intuitive unless you don't have it. It seems to me that most of the time when people talk about abusing the concept, it's because of something the person complaining about it has never experienced or even noticed. (I wish I knew where to find information on a study I saw a while back where both white and black kids were given dolls of both races and told to pick the "bad kid". Both groups picked the black doll. That is the concept we are discussing here.) EVDebs (talk) 08:25, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
Ah, here we go: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenneth_and_Mamie_Clark It seems as though the experiment has been replicated as well. It's also worth noting that a lot of African Americans are aware of this in their own community because of widely varying skin tone -- as Harry Reid pointed out during the 2008 election, Barack Obama's lighter skin probably did make him more electable in some eyes compared to someone with much darker skin. It's a sad commentary on our society that what Reid said, however crassly he put it, wound up being vilified rather than analyzed and understood. EVDebs (talk) 08:32, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
On that, Jon McNaughton always paints Barack Obama a subtly darker shade than he really is. The trouble with it's use it that it's become some buzzword that automagically wins an argument, but I don't think it's the best term or approach to use. My first encounter with it was actually in the guise of "under-privileged". Because that's what we're really talking about. Using "privilege" seeks only to admonish and guilt-trip people for head-starts in life that they had no control over (and in that respect, class and wealth outstrip other factors). Afterall, what are you going to do about it by pointing to those groups? Ask them to give that up? But if you use "under-privileged", it doesn't do that at all. It focuses us on where inequality stems from; the fact that some people don't get those head-starts, and those privileges. And we can look to fix it in a positive sense by actually giving the under-privileged more power, rather than just stripping things away from people who had no conscious decision in what they got in life.
But really, I don't understand the reasoning "group X has privilege, it's okay to be abusive to them". I really don't. I've seen people try to justify why it was okay to hurl effectively sexist abuse at men, racist abuse at white people, and general abuse at people with wealthy parents, and all they could do is get to "privilege" and the reasoning stopped. In some circles people are forgetting what it represents, and using it as an excuse to dismiss peoples opinion on a subject. Rebecca Watson's "Privilege Delusion" is pretty much this taken to a dozen paragraphs, for instance. Scarlet A.pngpatheticModerator 11:43, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
On top of what A said: first off, I think the concept tends to be very badly reified - people forget that it is a generalization that applies to demographics, not an "invisible backpack" carried by every individual to whom it applies in every situation. Second, it is treated as a excessively deterministic factor; your "level" of privilege in regards to race, gender, etc. is seen to be an accurate indicator of your prospects in life, even at the expense of far more relevant characteristics like, as A points out, wealth, class and also intelligence and geography (i.e. a lesbian black girl born to wealthy parents in New York has much better prospects in life than a straight white male born to a single mother in an Alabama trailer park). (More generally, you can't reduce the nigh-infinite complexities of individual circumstance down to a category as simple as gender or skin color, but I guess that's more of an argument against social determinism in general than privilege in particular.) Fourth, privilege is not concrete, but relative to different contexts. Being white might be an advantage in America, for example, but it won't do so much for you in Japan, or even arguably in NBA tryouts. Fifth, despite being an ostensibly viable sociological concept it's turned into a colossal snarl word; similar to accusations of racism, it sets off raging moral alarm bells in the audience and tends to be an instant conversation-ender. The terminology itself also implies that privilege is arbitrary and wrong; turns out, privilege isn't inherently nefarious: in a democratic society, that majority demographics will experience certain privileges that minorities will not is simply inevitable; furthermore, our society enforces some privileges that few people would argue with (do you think college graduates shouldn't have better job prospects? That the mentally healthy shouldn't be preferred for certain fields?). It also frequently lends itself to a kind of cataloguing of grievances, a collective whining that tends to take the place of constructive dialogue about solutions to social problems (after all, as many maestros of the term will happily inform you, the first - and sometimes seemingly only - step to "solving" privilege is simply to talk about it and "raise awareness"). The way the term is used, then, very frequently involves implicit (or sometimes explicit) guilt-tripping (do not ever point this out to a privilege-monger though, they will deny it furiously), often to a particular end: "If you want to purge the Original Sin of being white/straight/male/Christian/able-bodied/whatever, you have to support my political cause!" Which brings me to my last point: while A gives a very good liberal understanding of the term, the idea of privilege has its origins in, and is still most heavily used by, much "harder" varieties of the left; the idea comes from Marxist social analysis, and still tends to go hand-in-hand with socialism (and in some cases, ethnic separatism). There's a large school of thought associated with the term which holds that Western society is inherently racist or otherwise bigoted, from the bottom up, and cannot be fixed except by switching to a completely different social order and system of government. Needless to say, this school of thought tends not to have a high opinion of things like capitalism and liberal democracy; "privilege", to them, is evidence that we can't all live in a fair society without government-enforced equality, at the expense of individual rights - I mean, privileges. Oh, and one last thing: the term is sufficiently vaguely defined that even people using it in its sociological context can mean completely different things by it. Despite KoTL;DR's insistence below, I have encountered numerous people who treat the concept of privilege as very much a binary: "privileged" and "oppressed" as binary states of being, reliant on context. So, it's a very messy term. 174.252.54.126 (talk) 19:01, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
Also, I think the reasoning behind why privileged groups are acceptable targets goes something like, if you're in group A and you're in a room with nine people of group B, if you make fun of group B it's funny because you're not really in a position to hurt them, but if they make fun of group A it's bullying because you can't actually fight back/you rely on the good graces of group B for your continued wellbeing. I agree though that this gets used as a cover for all sorts of borderline or explicitly bigoted statements (often of the passive-aggressive variety) against the dominant group, and if anything encourages the mindset of looking at people as groups rather than individuals. This can get particularly nasty when some minorities are considered more "privileged" than others, c.f. the amount of anti-Semitism from black activists (Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Spike Lee) that gets overlooked or dismissed as negligible because Jews are percieved as occupying a higher social stratum, despite also being a minority that still faces prejudice in many parts of the world. Also another reason why I tend to dislike efforts to catalogue and stratify ethnic grievances in the interest of determining who's the biggest victim; it's a race to the bottom and it usually leads to some ugly places. 174.252.54.126 (talk) 20:06, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
"Oppression Olympics." Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 20:18, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
Precisely. It's a hell of a lot less productive than talking about long-term solutions to tangible social problems, but for those who relish victim status or self-righteous self-flagellation it's a lot more satisfying in the here and now. 64.254.165.221 (talk) 20:25, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
Before this goes a little too far, I have to reiterate that as the concept of being unable to recognise head-starts you get in life purely because you actually had those head-starts, it's a fine concept. It's very true, and perhaps is the cause of some people saying stupid things. Realising this is fine, and helping people realise this is admirable. But that's a very specific use that relates to things like observation-selection effects - so "privilege blindness" is what it's talking about. Its overuse as a buzzword is the issue. Scarlet A.pngnarchistModerator 20:44, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
Well, that is what's being talked about here. What I'm saying is that I don't think it's as overused as people think it is; it does get misused (happened to a friend of mine not long ago, and i cringed at his response because he's not a racist guy and I don't think he understood what the person making the accusation was talking about to begin with), but assuming outright it's overused without really taking a look at how it's used is in and of itself (IMHO) a form of privilege blindness. My point is that it isn't usually the thoughtstopper a lot of people take it for, simply because the concept is somewhat hard to understand, and when you do understand it, hard to accept. (As for calling it Marxist... well, [citation needed], but also, Marx wasn't wrong about everything. You can accept a Marxist take on history without being a filthy communist.) EVDebs (talk) 07:38, 6 December 2012 (UTC)
I never said that the fact that it's Marxist makes it wrong, just that that's where it comes from (well technically it came from feminist theory, which was itself influenced by Marxism; but look up "critical theory" and "critical race theory" to get some sense of the background here) and accordingly it still has strong associations with Marxist ideologies of varying levels of radicalism. Also, I don't think anyone here is just assuming it's overused; we're saying it is, based on empirical observation. 74.8.89.90 (talk) 07:56, 6 December 2012 (UTC)
Well, given the nature of the concept, I'm inclined to think the empirical data you're using is incomplete. I mean, okay, show me an example where the term is abused, and assuming I agree with you, okay, there's an abuse. It happens to lots of terms. The question is, is it abused to the degree that a lot of people seem to think? That's where the point of contention lies. To me, the only way to answer that is to look at it from the perspective of those with less privilege. I don't know. Once it finally clicked with me, it proved to be one of those things that should have been blindingly obvious on first explanation. I mean, the phrase "check your privilege" is supposed to get you to think, not to make you stop thinking, which is how it's usually interpreted. EVDebs (talk) 08:17, 6 December 2012 (UTC)
But that's still a somewhat vague and subjective definition (and, again, one of many), and of little use to serious argumentation. In that context it's basically the same thing as asking a person to consider that their perceptions may be colored by implicit biases toward whatever groups they happen to be a part of - it's almost certainly true, but doesn't actually discredit anything they might be saying and tends to be phrased in such a patronizing and judgmental way as to provoke defensiveness. 64.254.165.221 (talk) 21:04, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
It's also worth noting that the term itself implies something that is enforced from above (fitting to its Marxist roots), whereas the dynamic it actually refers to is something that arises from an array of historical, cultural, and even natural and circumstancial factors; the implication that the rights of privileged groups are something that has been "given", as from a parent to a child, is probably another reason why the term provokes such strong reactions in people. 174.252.54.126 (talk) 22:32, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
Fair enough point, but that's mainly a lexical issue. "Unearned majority privilege" is the closest I can come to a more precise description of the concept, but it doesn't quite cover situations like apartheid South Africa, where the privileged class is a powerful minority. It's one of those situations where whoever coined the original term didn't do a good job of picking their words carefully. EVDebs (talk) 18:32, 6 December 2012 (UTC)
I think they picked their wording very carefully, but what they were describing is not the same thing you are. This is what I mean when I say that defining the term is problematic. Also, as far as pointing out abuses of the term, I think I've done one better: I've outlined several criteria that (IMO) constitute the term's abuse; finding examples that meet one or more should not be difficult, but you couldn't make me go wading through the sewage of Tumblr to find them if you paid me. 64.254.165.180 (talk) 06:55, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
(unlike many conversations around here, this one is really rich and meaningful. i hope your opinions (all of you) get into the article.)Green mowse.pngGodot She was a venus demilo in her sister's jeans 20:57, 5 December 2012 (UTC)

(UNINDENT)I'm just going to have to guess that EVDebs has spent a bit too much time browsing shitty tumblrs like dumbthingswhitepplsay. The instances in which "check your privilege" is abused as a guilt trip / oppression olympics are usually fringe tumblrs and other various clogospheres. "You're white / straight / male / cisgendered, so you're wrong." The best way to know if it's relevant is to do what you should - to think on it. If your position relies on experiences that you have that are caused by your privilege, you should be able to see it (i.e. that you're accidentally mansplaining / cissplaining / straightsplaining) without having to take days at a time. If you can't, then it's pretty likely that the person using it against you is blaming their own shortcomings on their underprivilege - and using it to stop you talking, rather than to help you talk in a more understanding manner. tl;dr y'all need to stop browsing tumblr. Polite Timesplitter talk to me sugar, but best keep it on thedown-low 11:06, 6 December 2012 (UTC)

It's this that I'm most concerned about, although the article doesn't invoke the p-word directly, I imagine that's just because the author hasn't heard of it. Most of my encounters with it being over-used or mis-used have been via discussions on Facebook where it's practically a drinking game for about 2-3 people. I don't think it's entirely one of those thought-terminating clichés, as if you do push for more detail you can get it - it's not like it's used by stupid people who don't grok it, but like most jargon it can just get a mention and is left there. Scarlet A.pngssholeModerator 12:21, 6 December 2012 (UTC)

Misdefinition?[edit]

I always learned a privledge is something that is earned. You don't earn less worry of sexual assault by being male: you happen to have been fertilized by a Y-chromsome-carrying sperm and happen to be in a society where heterosexual men perform most sexual assaults. The Heidelberg Kid (talk) 15:27, 25 January 2012 (UTC)

Nope. Privilege doesn't have to be earned; some people just have it. Where do you see the term defined that way? P-Foster Talk "Watched Mad Men thinking it was supposed to be a sit-com. Found it disappointing." 15:31, 25 January 2012 (UTC)
I was always told when X is a privlege, I have to earn the right to X or I would not be able to X. The Heidelberg Kid (talk) 17:19, 25 January 2012 (UTC)
Probably addressing the semantic difference between "having the privilege to do X" and "being privileged". Definitions. -- Seth Peck (talk) 17:22, 25 January 2012 (UTC)
EC Do you know what a dictionary is? I suggest the O.E.D. "2.a. A right, advantage, or immunity granted to or enjoyed by a person, or a body or class of persons, beyond the common advantages of others; an exemption in a particular case from certain burdens or liabilities." "b. In extended sense: A special advantage or benefit; with reference to divine dispensations, natural advantages, gifts of fortune, etc." Nothing about it being earned. P-Foster Talk "Watched Mad Men thinking it was supposed to be a sit-com. Found it disappointing." 17:26, 25 January 2012 (UTC)
But, the first definition of the Collins World English Dictionary: "1. a benefit, immunity, etc, granted under certain conditions". Like, for example, getting your license after passing your driving test, or being allowed out past curfew because you had good grades. -- Seth Peck (talk) 17:40, 25 January 2012 (UTC)
Oooooh, the Collins? Beats the hell out of the OED for reliability, don't it? Anyway, add "being white or a male" to that list of "certain conditions," and there's no problem. P-Foster Talk "Watched Mad Men thinking it was supposed to be a sit-com. Found it disappointing." 17:43, 25 January 2012 (UTC)
I'm just saying that the definition isn't as narrow as you think it is. Definitely NOT saying that the OED is wrong, but words are tricky things. I grew up hearing about "privileges" all the time, especially when they were revoked. I think this can be easily resolved by acknowledging the two distinct differences of the word, as they are both on mission: (a) what it means to be white/male/straight/rich/American in a Ralph Ellison/Malcom X sense, and (b) the difference between rights, which are inalienable, and certain licenses (the ability to drive in a state, the authorization to sell liquor in your restaurant, etc) that can be granted and/or taken away by government entities. I added text last month that tried to highlight these differences...if we need to, we can make it more clear.
Another option would be to be like Schlafly and stubbornly stick to one definition of a word. -- Seth Peck (talk) 17:53, 25 January 2012 (UTC)
And a third option would be to find another word that better defines one of the definitions of privilege and create it as a separate article, with disclaimers to the effect of "Privilege should not be confused with X" with X being "license" or whatever word maeks more sense. -- Seth Peck (talk) 17:56, 25 January 2012 (UTC)
A fourth option would be to find a reliable source that expressly states that the word "privilege" expressly implies that such privilege is earned and not bestowed by nature or chance. Off with you, come back when you find it. also, we're not an encyclopedia, and we're certainly not a dictionary. We don't need articles for every noun. P-Foster Talk "Watched Mad Men thinking it was supposed to be a sit-com. Found it disappointing." 17:58, 25 January 2012 (UTC)
A fifth option would be to understand words have many meanings, but there is one critical meaning for this article, since it's about the position of power that WASPS have in the US, or Huntus have in (shit, which country in southern africa...anhow).Pink mowse.pngGodotGrow a vagina 18:00, 25 January 2012 (UTC)
I like Godot's option. Mention "what else privilege could mean" and then focus on why it's important to RW. Oh, wait, it already does that. -- Seth Peck (talk) 18:29, 25 January 2012 (UTC)

Edit break[edit]

"A fourth option would be to find a reliable source that expressly states that the word "privilege" expressly implies that such privilege is earned and not bestowed by nature or chance." The article has absolutely no sources given for any of its claims. None. So, what, anyone can say anything they want as long as they agree with you, but the moment they disagree, suddenly you turn into a citation Nazi? This concept of "privilege", as the article acknowledges, is by definition not one recognized by the mainstream. This is a concept that liberals have identified, and then came with a pre-existing word with a similar meaning, and re-purposed it for this concept. The article should acknowledge this. This concept of "privilege" is not identical to the traditional meaning of the word, just as the mathematical concept of "sphere" isn't exactly the same as the common meaning of the word. And this new concept is very poorly defined. Oppression is when people are disadvantaged through human agency. While sick people can be oppressed, a sick person being disadvantaged is not, in and of itself, oppression. Also, a distinction is made between rights and privileges, yet this article says that rights can be a type of privilege. Also, most of the so-called "privileges" are lack of oppression. Much of this "privilege" concept is simply an attempt to reframe the issue as not minorities having something taken from them, but the majority having something given them to them. Finally, the statement " In other words, it refers to the ways that even someone who is ostensibly a supporter of equal rights for a group of people can still inadvertently marginalize or oppress them" is not supported by the rest of the article. How does a man walking alone without fear of being raped oppress women? If men were to fear being raped, would women be any less oppressed?Fdof (talk) 05:55, 27 July 2012 (UTC)

Ah, the "I don't agree with it, so it's not mainstream" fallacy... awesome. --Eira OMTG! The Goat be Praised. 06:03, 27 July 2012 (UTC)
To attack the substance of your argument. Privilege is in at least one place, defined as: "A special advantage, immunity, permission, right, or benefit granted to or enjoyed by an individual, class, or caste." So, why yes, men do have a privilege in that they do not have to worry about being raped when walking alone at night. In fact, the article itself makes it clear that privilege is talking about "disadvantage" as well as as "oppression". No, a sick person being sick is not oppression, but it is a disadvantage.
So, no, by definition, everything you complain about is mainstream definition of the term "privilege", whether you disagree with how the term is being applied or not. --Eira OMTG! The Goat be Praised. 06:10, 27 July 2012 (UTC)
"Ah, the "I don't agree with it, so it's not mainstream" fallacy... awesome." Ah, the "I'm going to just attack a strawman and make sarcastic remarks about it" fallacy. If you continue to be rude, then the obvious conclusion is that it's not worth it to try to have a conversation with you. Mainstream usage of the term "privilege" refers to something GIVEN, not something NOT TAKEN AWAY. Something held by half or more of the population is by definition not "special". If this IS the mainstream usage, then why do you have EXPLAIN to everyone what it means? Your position is absurd. A person might grudgingly admit that being able to walk sorta kinda technically fits the definition of "privilege", but no normal person would consider that a standard use of the term.Fdof (talk) 03:43, 29 July 2012 (UTC)
"Theory" in general parlance means something like "wild ass guess" yet it means something considerably more detailed in science. Would you argue that science, therefore, is wrong? If you want to play the arguing by definition card, please, by all means do, but no intelligent person will take it seriously because you seem to be arguing against a well-used, well-known and important social concept because the word doesn't fit the one narrow use you have for it. Scarlet A.pngtheist 23:39, 29 July 2012 (UTC)
Shorter ADK: Learn to play your language-games! Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 00:19, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
But when Wittgenstein says it, apparently it makes him a genius! Scarlet A.pngnarchist 01:21, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
To paraphrase Charles Bukowski, the difference between you and Wittgenstein is that he wrote a book on it and you didn't. And he got there first. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 02:05, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
The fact that you define the favored group as 'normal' and the unfavored group as 'abnormal' or 'unprivileged' is just another manifestation of their privilage. Privilage isn't binary; some people can be in multiple areas that are privileged. For example: given mainstream American society, a white male might be more privileged than a black male... but a white 'affluent' male even more so. And even below the black male is a black female, etc. It's not "If most of the population has it, then it's normal!" it's a case of specific demographics being favored over others. If you can belong to more than one, then it stacks. Oh, and 'If this is the mainstream definition, why do you have to define it?' Many people aren't aware of their privilege or comparative lack thereof. There are whole sociology branches devoted to privilage, intersectionality, and how it shapes society. We define it for the same reason that most encyclopedias define anything. By your logic, why even have RW at all? Not amused. 0/10, Fdof. ±Knightoftldrsig.pngKnightOfTL;DRgarrulous en guerre 01:13, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
Privilege is benefiting from unconscious discrimination, or more even more to the point, enjoying discrimination by omission/status quo bias. For example, for whatever reason Asian Americans are underrepresented in American academics despite being more than qualified. You as a non-Asian American going into American university higher learning (this is what's especially tricky, even non-whites unwarrantedly benefit from this) benefit from this reduced competition even though you had nothing to do with the policies. Again, the reason doesn't have to be targeted discrimination (then it would be just plain racism); the actual reason might be giving people automatic and undue weight to, say, children of alumni. Nonetheless, the actual effect is that demographics don't actually reflect Asian American ability.

Of course it gets especially tricky because, like KnightOfTL;DR said, privilege isn't necessarily a binary. Who enjoys more privilege; a black cisgendered homosexual male Christian or a paraplegic white transgendered female Muslim? Not only is it impossible to answer short of context, it's meaningless to even think of it without a context. But it's still a useful concept. Dr. Swordopolis (talk) 23:08, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

""Theory" in general parlance means something like "wild ass guess" yet it means something considerably more detailed in science. Would you argue that science, therefore, is wrong? If you want to play the arguing by definition card, please, by all means do, but no intelligent person will take it seriously because you seem to be arguing against a well-used, well-known and important social concept because the word doesn't fit the one narrow use you have for it." What the hell are you saying here? I'm arguing that this is a use of the word "privilege" that differs from the mainstream use. I never said this use is "wrong", I just said that if differs from mainstream use. I even gave the example of the word "sphere" to highlight this distinction. And now you come along and make the same exact point. Sheesh. Do you even bother reading what other people write before responding?

"The fact that you define the favored group as 'normal' and the unfavored group as 'abnormal' or 'unprivileged' is just another manifestation of their privilage." I never did any such thing. And if you're such an expert in "privilege", why can't you even spell the word correctly? "Privilage isn't binary; some people can be in multiple areas that are privileged." The definition that P-Foster gave defined it as an advantage. The article itself defines it as rights and advantages. But you're treating it as the state of being advantaged. These are distinct concepts that are being equivocated. I am responding to an argument being made on the basis of the first meaning, and you are responding using the second meaning. Either you're not paying attention, or you're being deliberately dishonest. "Oh, and 'If this is the mainstream definition, why do you have to define it?' Many people aren't aware of their privilege or comparative lack thereof." That doesn't answer the question. At all. In fact, you're supporting my point. "We define it for the same reason that most encyclopedias define anything." Perhaps you didn't bother reading RW:MISSION? "RationalWiki is not a general encyclopedia; it does not require articles on every known subject." "By your logic, why even have RW at all?" So, your question is, if we aren't going to have articles explaining what people already know, then why have RW? Umm... to have article explaining what people don't already know? Were you seriously not able to figure the is out for yourself? "Not amused. 0/10, Fdof." I don't exist to amuse you. Your attitude is incredibly arrogant and condescending, and not conducive to constructive dialog.

"For example, for whatever reason Asian Americans are underrepresented in American academics despite being more than qualified." What are you talking about? Asian Americans are overrepresented. Are you seriously this ignorant? "the actual reason might be giving people automatic and undue weight to, say, children of alumni." If children of alumni are given a preference, then children of alumni have a privilege. Saying that white people have a privilege because children of alumni have a privilege, and children of alumni are white, is a wildly fallacious argument. In fact, asserting that a particular white person is privileged, simply because they belong to a race that contains privileged people, is flat-out racist.

"Of course it gets especially tricky because, like KnightOfTL;DR said, privilege isn't necessarily a binary." You aren't using "binary" correctly.

You people are really on the edge of invoking Grey's Law, and you really need to knock it off. If you can't come up with something that isn't blatantly moronic to say, then don't say anything.Fdof (talk) 22:40, 31 July 2012 (UTC)

Can I ask you something? Are you French? Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 22:52, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
Yay! Telling somebody who's been here longer than you to read the rules and that they're a jerk when they've probably been around long enough to see their fair share of clowns like you! 10 jerk points!
"asserting that a particular white person is privileged, simply because they belong to a race that contains privileged people, is flat-out racist."
You didn't even read what I said, did you? Privilege is not a binary. There are no groups 'privileged' vs 'not privileged,' it is a continuum of traits that society favors vs. does not favor. So yes, any particular white person IS privileged in at least OUR CULTURE for simply being white. That is ONE avenue of privilege, it does not 'switch on' privilege, it is ONE FACTOR that society favors. Think of it this way: For someone to be picked by an agent to be a mainstream supermodel, they often have to be pretty AND thin AND tall. People who are pretty and thin have SOME of the privilege in this situation and MIGHT be considered. People who are neither pretty, nor thin, nor tall, have very LITTLE advantage in this situation, and likely will not be picked. The agent, which in this case is a metaphor for social acceptance, FAVORS those traits, but only in CONCERT do they create someone who is on the extreme end of the privilege spectrum. Someone who is white, in our culture, fulfills at least one part of the description of what society favors. If they don't fit anything else, then it's less likely they'll be as favored by society, and as such, less privileged, than someone who does. Privilege is cumulative, and favored traits are likely, but do not always, go together. If you are white, you are favored a certain amount. Because you are favored, it's more likely you get a job. Because you got a job, it's more likely your kids will go to college. If your kids go to college, it's more likely they'll end up wealthier. If they end up wealthier, they are represented as success, and reinforce their image as the favored image. It's not racist to point out that mainstream society is inherently racist. Even systematically racist in many ways. Intersectionality, man. Check it.
"You aren't using binary correctly."
Oh man. Did you just say somebody here does not understand what on vs. off means? Like, the concept that most toddlers understand? Are you for real? ±Knightoftldrsig.pngKnightOfTL;DRsufficiently advanced argument still distinguishable from magic 23:20, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
Hey, Neb, don't put down the French. they all but invented the kind of rhetoric he's trying to play. they would MDR at him ! Green mowse.pngGodotL'important c'est d'aimer 00:57, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
Please do not Gish Gallop. This wiki highly discourages such behavior. I will address any such conflicts that I have with what you're presenting later. As of right now, I do not have the time to do so. --Eira OMTG! The Goat be Praised. 20:28, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
Y'know, I'm amazed someone could seriously say things like "Nazi" and "blatantly moronic" in a discussion of word implications... 99.50.98.145 (talk) 20:39, 1 August 2012 (UTC)

"Telling somebody who's been here longer than you to read the rules and that they're a jerk when they've probably been around long enough to see their fair share of clowns like you!"

Posting an appeal to authority argument on RationalWiki? Seriously? Also, "clown" is a personal attack.

"You didn't even read what I said, did you?"

You said that there are "areas" that are privileged. So, what, areas are privileged, but groups aren't? I don't see how this distinction is conveyed by you saying "privilege isn't binary". Just because what you're saying is confusing as hell doesn't mean that I'm not reading what you're saying, and pretending otherwise is rude.

"If you are white, you are favored a certain amount. Because you are favored, it's more likely you get a job."

That's not necessarily true.

"It's not racist to point out that mainstream society is inherently racist."

I never said it is. Your insistence on strawman is very dishonest.

"Did you just say somebody here does not understand what on vs. off means?"

No, I didn't say "not understand", I said "not using correctly". So, not only are you making unsubstantiated accusations of me not paying attention to what you're saying, you're clearly not paying attention to what I'm saying. How about, from now on, you actually pay attention to what I write before responding? Is that really too much to ask? As to the incorrect use of "binary: "a" is an article. Articles modify nouns. "Binary", at least in this context, is an adjective. Therefore, it is not correct to say "a binary".

"Please do not Gish Gallop. This wiki highly discourages such behavior." What about strawmen? Is this wiki okay with them? And how is responding to other people's posts a Gish Gallop? If anything, the steady stream of BS you people are spewing is a Gish Gallop. Fdof (talk) 23:57, 1 August 2012 (UTC)

I tried to explain the topic to you in simple terms, but that seems to have backfired What don't you understand about privilage not being a binary? Someone's level of privilage is cumulative, each trait they have that society favors adding up to create a more 'favored' or privileged individual. The more traits you have that society favors, the more likely you are to hold privilage. I even linked you to Intersectionality, which is pretty much the study of this, which you could have read at your leisure. At this point I am literally copying and pasting my notes from my Social Inequality in the USA course. What can I do to explain to you that you would understand? Literally take you to a university and sit you down with the sociology professor? Look, I don't really care if you think I am personally attacking you or not; at this point I have tried to explain to you the concept of something not being binary, instead being cumulative three times. Three. And the parts you have failed to get are a) 'what is a group', which is explained to toddlers by separating out M&Ms by color, and b) the concept of something not being a binary, which is explained to toddlers by mixing black and white and making grey. I am sorry, but this is ridiculous and beginning to piss me off.±Knightoftldrsig.pngKnightOfTL;DRlavishly loquacious 00:19, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
1. The meaning of the term "binary" is not completely clear. And no, that's not due to me being too stupid to understand it, but rather to the ambiguity in the term.
2. This entire discussion was sparked by me stating that the meaning of "privilege" used in this article was not the same as the OED definition presented by P-Foster. The OED definition, presumably, would be considered "binary". Hence, you agree with me that your use of the term "privilege" is not the same as the OED definition. So you agree with me on the central issue.
3. Given that you're using a nonstandard definition, it's rather arrogant for you to complain about me not using your meaning, especially when you haven't explained it clearly, you're complaining about my comments to someone else (or maybe it was you; the comment is unsigned), and you're nitpicking about the wording of my comment, rather than any substantive issue. Remember, I was responding to P-Foster's definition. What you jumped on me about was a discussion of that definition.
4. You've made several different claims: privilege isn't binary, privilege is on a continuum, privilege is cumulative, some people can be in multiple areas that are privileged, and it does make sense to speak of a group being privileged. These are five completely different claims. Simply saying "it's not binary" does not communicate the other claims, and my use of the term is not inconsistent with it not being binary. Furthermore, saying that there are areas that are privileged implies that areas can be either be "privileged" or "not privileged". And that is, according to your meaning, "binary", right? So you're saying that privilege is binary.
5. "I even linked you to Intersectionality" Right. You're incredibly rude to me, and now you expect me to allow you to give me reading assignments? I don't need to read that article to know you're full of crap.
6. "What can I do to explain to you that you would understand?" Gee, how about having a rational, mature, civil, and respectful discussion?
7. "at this point I have tried to explain to you the concept" No, what is at issue is not the concept. There's a difference between "I don't understand which concept you are trying to convey" and "I don't understand the concept that you are trying to convey". Apparently, you don't understand that.
8. "being binary, instead being cumulative three times" Oh, come on. Do you seriously think I don't know how to use the search function in my internet browser? The first time you used the term "cumulative" was after my use of privilege that you're complaining about. And your first use of the term "binary" was immediately followed by "some people can be in multiple areas that are privileged", which completely confused the issue.
9. "And the parts you have failed to get are a) 'what is a group', which is explained to toddlers by separating out M&Ms by color, and b) the concept of something not being a binary, which is explained to toddlers by mixing black and white and making grey." I don't have any trouble understanding those concepts. You're being extremely arrogant in not taking responsibility for your poor communication skills, and instead blaming my intelligence.
10. "I am sorry, but this is ridiculous and beginning to piss me off." 'You're getting pissed off?Fdof (talk) 02:53, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
fdof: "b. In extended sense: A special advantage or benefit;" This OED definition is perfectlly inline with the article. Also, the definition that I linked to fits, and Wiktionary's definition "A peculiar benefit, advantage, or favor; a right or immunity not enjoyed by others or by all; special enjoyment of a good, or exemption from an evil or burden; a prerogative; advantage; franchise; preferential treatment." Addresses all of your claims of "misuse" of the term. Therefore, this article is not a misuse of the term. Just because you disagree doesn't make us wrong.
Let's leave everything out of this conversation, besides the definitions. No fisking (quoting people excessively and addressing them point-by-pedantic-point) and no gish galloping... posting walls of text that no one wants to read, because the very first line of it is inherently fucked up, and therefore why should I read the rest of it, I already have enough shit to fill a wall of text myself just from the first two statements.
Finally, a personal attack is not necessarily an "ad hominem fallacy". It is only a fallacy when it is used to dismiss a person's claim. "Your argument X is wrong, because you're a pedophile." is an "ad hominem", "Your argument X is wrong, because of logical argument Y, you pedophile." is simply a personal attack, and not a fallacy. (One might claim that it's irrelevant, and turns people off to your argument, but that's a style issue. The argument is still valid.) --Eira OMTG! The Goat be Praised. 03:41, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
"5. "I even linked you to Intersectionality" Right. You're incredibly rude to me, and now you expect me to allow you to give me reading assignments? I don't need to read that article to know you're full of crap." Are you expecting us to re-write a sociology text for you? "But that's not what "heritable" means! Oh, you want me to read a genetics paper? Fuck that!" I mean, I could give you some real reading assignments to show why your conception of language itself is totally faulty, and you are thus wrong on an even more fundamental level than what Eira and Knight are arguing, but if one Wikipedia page is too much.... So let's cut the crap. Is your beef either: a, you're a pedant for definitions, or b, you just don't like the fact that there's "PC" stuff used by the dirty libruls on the wiki? Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 04:55, 2 August 2012 (UTC)

Addresses all of your claims of "misuse" of the term. Therefore, this article is not a misuse of the term. Just because you disagree doesn't make us wrong. What are you talking about? You didn't address any of my claims. You just posted a bunch of definitions and then declared that I was wrong. Saying that I am declaring you wrong simply because I disagree with you is incredibly rude, dishonest, flat-out hypocritical, and shows that you have absolutely no interest in engaging in constructive dialog. Also, "in line" is two words.

No fisking (quoting people excessively and addressing them point-by-pedantic-point) Yeah, you don't like quoting people. Makes it harder to engage in blatant strawman attacks. How is addressing what people say pedantic? I like quoting people and then addressing what they say. You like not quoting them and not addressing what they've said. I think my way is more honest. But if you insist, from now on I'll just respond to everything you say with "You're wrong", and maybe some strawman or other dishonesty thrown in, since that's apparently how you think discussions should go.

and no gish galloping Again, how is this Gish galloping?

Finally, a personal attack is not necessarily an "ad hominem fallacy". Huh? What are you talking about? Did I accuse someone of an ad hominem fallacy? Or are you just randomly posting non sequitors? Here's an idea: how about you stop posting nonsense, and then I won't have any need to post "walls of text" addressing your nonsense?

Are you expecting us to re-write a sociology text for you? No, as I already said, I'm asking you to have a rational, mature, civil, and respectful discussion. As opposed to posting completely unproductive insinuations like "Are you French?"

a, you're a pedant for definitions, or b, you just don't like the fact that there's "PC" stuff used by the dirty libruls on the wiki? c. As I have already said, and you have deliberately ignored in favor of misrepresenting me, this concept employs the word "privilege" in a manner that is slightly different from the mainstream use. I am not objecting to that. I am simply saying that this fact should be recognized.22:07, 4 August 2012 (UTC)

"Saying that I am declaring you wrong simply because I disagree with you is incredibly rude, dishonest, flat-out hypocritical..." ok then, please explain to me how my argument is wrong then, rather than just saying "you're not making an argument" because I am making an argument.
"Yeah, you don't like quoting people." Actually, I do like quoting people. I'm actually a bit of a minor expert in fisking. (But nothing like PJR... I just don't have the mental resilience to keep it up.) The whole reason why this wiki discourages fisking is because it puts up enormous walls of text from pedants fighting back and forth. I've had to learn to control my urge to fisk, because it just fills the wiki with a bunch of worthless text, none of which actually addresses any issues.
"Makes it harder to engage in blatant strawman attacks." No, it leads to people addressing minor or trivial points instead of attacking the substance of the topic at hand.
"You like not quoting them and not addressing what they've said." Actually, if you were to read my response, it would be clear that I have addressed what you're arguing. But it will be addressed again, fisking style, since that appears to be what you prefer.
"from now on I'll just respond to everything you say with "You're wrong", and maybe some strawman or other dishonesty thrown in, since that's apparently how you think discussions should go." I'm not saying "You're wrong". I'm saying "this is a mainstream definition of privilege, and it covers the entire content of this article, thus not a misdefinition." But I'll spell it out more pedantically below, because you're (short bus) special.
"Did I accuse someone of an ad hominem fallacy?" ... not explicitly, but you did say: "Also, "clown" is a personal attack." Who gives a shit if it's a personal attack, unless they're making an ad hominem fallacy?
"Also, "in line" is two words." Ah... that answers my question. You're bringing it up, just because you have to comment about every single detail of a person's response, rather than address the subject of their argument. Again, who cares if "in line" is two words or one? You understood what I said, and the only point of bringing it up is an attempt to discredit your opponent by showing off their minor typographical/orthographical/grammatical errors. Just like you mentioned the personal attack, as if somehow mentioning that they're using a personal attack against you makes their argument any less wrong. "2+2=4, you fucking assturd." ... hm... 2+2 still equals 4, even though there's a personal attack in there.
"How is addressing what people say pedantic?" Because you're addressing everything that they say. You don't have to address spurious errors, and personal attacks. They're irrelevant to the argument, so don't bring them up.
"You just posted a bunch of definitions and then declared that I was wrong." and "...this concept employs the word "privilege" in a manner that is slightly different from the mainstream use." Odd that. I post a bunch of definitions by your own admission, and those definitions actually define "privilege" in such a way that it would cover the contents of this article. These definitions are mainstream, or they wouldn't be in a descriptive dictionary. So... how can you even continue to post anything at all, when your central argument has been cut down so decisively. Do you need me to spell it out for you?
This article presents: "It [privilege] refers to the rights and advantages held by a group in power that are exercised unconsciously." (emphasis added)
I presented the definition from wiktionary: "A peculiar benefit, advantage, or favor; a right or immunity not enjoyed by others or by all; special enjoyment of a good, or exemption from an evil or burden; a prerogative; advantage; franchise; preferential treatment." (emphasis added per alignment)
I presented also the dictionary.reference.com definition: "a right, immunity, or benefit enjoyed only by a person beyond the advantages of most"
But there is also: "the principle or condition of enjoying special rights or immunities."
There is also Merriam-Webster: "a right or immunity granted as a peculiar benefit, advantage, or favor"
Freedictionary.com: "A special advantage, immunity, permission, right, or benefit granted to or enjoyed by an individual, class, or caste."
So... you can see how I'm confused about how this article employs the word "privilege" in a manner that is different from mainstream use. Numerous dictionaries agree that our article easily passes the muster as covering "privilege", so it must be in mainstream use. Taking us full circle to my original statement: "I don't use the word this way, so that means you're using it differently from the mainstream." No, in fact, it is you, who appear to be out of touch with the mainstream. --Eira OMTG! The Goat be Praised. 02:31, 6 August 2012 (UTC)

I've posted, again and again, my arguments, which you have, again and again, refused to present an argument to. And no, "You're wrong" is not an argument. Here are my arguments once again:

Mainstream usage of the term "privilege" refers to something GIVEN, not something NOT TAKEN AWAY. Something held by half or more of the population is by definition not "special". If this IS the mainstream usage, then why do you have EXPLAIN to everyone what it means? Your position is absurd. A person might grudgingly admit that being able to walk sorta kinda technically fits the definition of "privilege", but no normal person would consider that a standard use of the term. The definition that P-Foster gave defined it as an advantage. The article itself defines it as rights and advantages. But you're treating it as the state of being advantaged. These are distinct concepts that are being equivocated. The OED definition, presumably, would be considered "binary". Hence, you agree with me that your use of the term "privilege" is not the same as the OED definition. So you agree with me on the central issue.

Everything you wrote constitutes spurious errors and personal attacks, so I guess I'm not supposed to respond to it, though. I do think, however, that if you don't want me to respond to spurious errors and personal attacks, you shouldn't post them. If I respond to them, you whine about me wasting space, and if I don't it looks like I don't have a response.Fdof (talk) 05:43, 6 August 2012 (UTC)

Actually, the most mainstream use of it that I recall from being at school was in the context of being "underprivileged" (synonymous with "disadvantaged") to refer to those working class areas that are deprived of funding or where most kids had fewer prospects because of the local job market or the area that might have been a bit downtrodden,

except it's rarely applied to class any more, even though that's the biggest privilege discrepancy.

You're still arguing by definition, though, which isn't particularly useful. Scarlet A.pngpostate 08:39, 14 August 2012 (UTC)

"implying that middle/upper class children would be privileged - which is exactly as the use is here"

NO! I previously referred to a group being privileged, and I got jumped on, accused of not paying attention to cryptic comments about privilege not being "binary". THAT IS WHAT I AM DISPUTING. *I* am saying that in the common usage of the term, it is acceptable to say that someone is privileged. Is it too much to ask that you actually pay attention to what someone is saying before responding? Also, I am not the one who brought definitions into this discussion, so that's another point on which you are simply talking out of your ass. If you have an actual counterargument to my actual argument, present it. Making snarky potholes just sends the message that you're not interested in civil discussion.Fdof (talk) 02:41, 16 August 2012 (UTC)
"Mainstream usage of the term 'privilege' refers to something GIVEN, not something NOT TAKEN AWAY." no... in your ideolect it might mean that. However, I presented a number of definitions that support the notion that a privilege can be an "immunity not enjoyed by others or by all". (Namely, males have a relative immunity to the fear of being raped. Yes, some men are raped, but it is nowhere near the approximately 1 in 8 women who feel that they have been raped.)
"Something held by half or more of the population is by definition not 'special'." Again, you are arguing from your personal ideolect. Many definitions provided by sources other than the OED simply require that not everyone have it. Also, the article makes no mention of the word "special". So arguing against its use here is kind of moot. Even if you were right, it wouldn't change the content of the article.
"no normal person would consider that a standard use of the term." Fallacy of lack of imagination, and an ad hominem/No True Scotsman fallacy. 1) You don't speak everyone's ideolect, you only speak your own, so you can't speak for how any person would perceive the definition of the word, you can only speak for yourself... that you're unable to see how a normal person would consider this a standard use of the term shows that you are lacking in imagination. 2) The fact that you say that anyone who disagrees with you would not be normal, very explicitly states that you're making a No True Scotsman fallacy here, of the most explicit form. 3) The ad hominem comes into effect, because you're immediately dismissing the opinion of anyone who disagrees with you, based on no rational argument, but rather just because they disagree with you.
"The article itself defines it as rights and advantages. But you're treating it as the state of being advantaged." I think I'm missing something. The article defines "privilege" as "the advantages people have that they don't think about," yet also uses the nominalized adjectival form "the privileged" which refers to "those who are privileged" -> "those who have or enjoy one or more privileges" (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/privileged?show=0&t=1345360525) -> "those who have or enjoy one or more advantages people have that they don't think about." This is all very simple grammatical process, which makes me wonder if you might have a gene that makes you incapable of morphology... There is no equivocation going on here. If there were, and you're suggesting that we're saying "privilege" is being used with the meaning of "the state of being advantaged", then we would be saying, "This person is privilege," or "This person privileges." Or some other absurd construction that we're not actually using.
"I've posted, again and again, my arguments, which you have, again and again, refused to present an argument to." Except for citing tons of definitions that show that the use of the word "privilege" in this article is consistent with their definitions. If enough people hold a definition that allows a dictionary to describe it in a way that is consistent with this article, then it MUST be at least somewhat "mainstream". Again, just because you disagree with the definition, or find it to be a violation of your personal ideolect does not mean that the mainstream actually feels the same way. I would liked to call this the Solipsistic fallacy, wherein one presumes that the rest of the world is just like them, even if their particular viewpoint is a minority, or extreme opinion.
"Also, I am not the one who brought definitions into this discussion" Except that your argument starts with: "This concept of 'privilege' is not identical to the traditional meaning of the word..." Your argument is only true if the mainstream definitions of privilege agree with your ideolect, and not with our article. Quoting numerous definitions, I can show that this is demonstrably false. Many mainstream definitions coincide with OUR ARTICLE, not with your ideolect.
"Making snarky potholes just sends the message that you're not interested in civil discussion." This is RationalWiki, everything here gets snark. If you want to have this debate with people who aren't going to be snarky about it, then go to Wikipedia. RW on the other hand explicitly states that it has a SNARKY POINT OF VIEW.
"I've posted, again and again, my arguments, which you have, again and again, refused to present an argument to." No, I have responded to your arguments, repeatedly. I've shown that many mainstream definitions are consistent with our article. Thus, your assertion that the "mainstream meaning of 'privilege' does not agree with this article" is patently false. It may not comply with your ideolect, but it does comply with the vast majority of people who speak English.
"Everything you wrote constitutes spurious errors and personal attacks" ... Actually, I've attempted my hardest to get rid of all my personal attacks in the debate, since you seem so pent up about people using them. And "spurious errors"? WTF? You claimed that the meaning of "privilege" doesn't comply with this article, and I produced data showing that it is in fact in compliance with this article. So, I don't know where these "spurious errors" are, unless you're simply confusing "spurious errors" with "things I disagree with." --Eira OMTG! The Goat be Praised. 07:39, 19 August 2012 (UTC)

Division and composition[edit]

1. If you're not going to engage in good faith discussion on the talk page, you shouldn't be editing. 2. The "minor edit" classification should not be used gratuitously. 3. Given that the example I gave was presented RIGHT HERE IN THE TALK PAGE, it's hardly a "straw man".Fdof (talk) 02:45, 19 August 2012 (UTC)

"fallacy of division"[edit]

"Often, the fallacious nature of "privilege" is disguised by saying that the group with "privilege" have a "better chance" of something good, or a "lower chance" of something bad, but this is simply a different variety of fallacy; a white person who is not eligible for the legacy preference derives no benefit from the preference, and arguing "White people are more likely to be eligible for legacy preferences, this person is white, therefore this person is more likely to be eligible for legacy preferences" is an example of the fallacy of division."

Except that if whites have a higher admissions rate, then that white person is more likely to be eligible for legacy preferences. You're automatically assuming here that the white person won't have the privilege, and thus are committing the fallacy of affirming the consequent, or begging the question. --Eira OMTG! The Goat be Praised. 07:51, 19 August 2012 (UTC)

Except that if whites have a higher admissions rate, then that white person is more likely to be eligible for legacy preferences. That is just plain absurd. You're automatically assuming here that the white person won't have the privilege No, I'm presenting an argument for why the white person doesn't have the privilege and thus are committing the fallacy of affirming the consequent, or begging the question Those are completely different concepts, and the fact that you treat that as synonyms shows how little you understand logic.
*looks up affirming the consequent* You're right, they are different things. In that case, I amend my argument to be that you are simply begging the question. At best, you're making a tautology... since you doubt my logic skills, let me lay out your argument in formal logic:
  • P: Legacy preference provides a better chance of admission to college A.
  • Q: Person B does not have legacy preference to college A.
  • R: All people with legacy preference to college A are white.
  • S: Person B is white.
  • T: Person B does not have legacy preference. So, is not privileged.
Do you see? Proposition T is just a restatement of proposition Q. It still doesn't change or affect proposition R, which shows that whites have privilege, because legacy preference is only available to whites. No matter how many whites you attempt to show as counter-examples, the case will still remain that whites have a higher preference for admission, because they are the only class whom can possibly benefit from legacy preference. --Eira OMTG! The Goat be Praised. 19:41, 19 August 2012 (UTC)
I've been trying to come up with a response to that, and I'm having trouble, as it's in Not Even Wrong territory. What you have presented is not formal logic, and it's not my argument. Slapping labels on propositions doesn't make it formal logic. You have done nothing to show that I am begging the question. In fact, given that I am saying that "proposition R shows that white people have privilege" is an ambiguous statement, with one of its meanings being false, you are the one begging the question by flatly asserting that it is true. My argument is quite simple: A statement about a population is not necessarily true when discussing the people in that population. A white student who is not eligible for a legacy preference derives no benefit from other white students getting legacy preferences, and therefore is not privileged. A statement about a group has two interpretations: a statement about the group as a whole, or a statement about the members of the group. "white people have more privilege" is true in the group sense, but not the member sense, so concluding that any particular white person is privileged is fallacious. Consider the statement "Black people are less educated than me". The group meaning is "The average education level obtained by black people is lower than mine", which is true. The member meaning is "The set 'black people' consists entirely of people who are less educated than me", which is false. Similarly, the statement "White people are more privileged" has a group meaning of "The overall average privilege of white people is greater than the overall population", which is true, and a member meaning of "The set of white people consists entirely of people who are more privileged than the overall population", which is false. This equivocation between the two meanings is the core of the fallacy of division. Fdof (talk) 19:53, 28 August 2012 (UTC)
"it's in Not Even Wrong territory" No, it's not.
"What you have presented is not formal logic, and it's not my argument. Slapping labels on propositions doesn't make it formal logic." When all one has done is state propositions, and not made any formal argument, YES IT IS. "P: Socrates is a man" is a subset of formal logic.
And in this case, you have no argument, and that is the point that I'm trying to make. Your argument takes an "arbitrary" person with selection criteria that they are white, and do not have legacy preference, and then you note that despite being white they do not have any privilege in this case, because they don't have the legacy preference. But your SELECTION CHOICE was that they do not have any legacy preference. You are begging the question, or at best, just restating a prior proposition.
In fact, in this specific example, YOU are the one committing the fallacy of division. We said that WHITES have Privilege, not "EVERY white person has Privilege in all cases". Yet you are the one who is asserting that we are making the claim that privilege applies to every white person, instead of white people as a class. YOU ARE THE ONLY PERSON HERE CONFLATING THE TWO STATEMENTS. --Eira OMTG! The Goat be Praised. 07:21, 30 August 2012 (UTC)

"For instance, if a university offers legacy preferences, and only white people are eligible for these preferences, this will be used of an example of "white privilege", when in fact the privilege is held only by some white people, not white people as a whole; this is an example of the fallacy of composition."

Except that statistically, the privilege only applies to the group of whites. Statistically, as a whole white people have privilege in this scenario, as they are more likely to be legacy candidates, and experience legacy privilege. We're not claiming that privilege is DEFINITE, or binary, we're claiming that it's an imbalanced preference towards one group. If only white people are eligible for legacy preference, then white people have the privilege of POSSIBLY gaining the legacy preference. --Eira OMTG! The Goat be Praised. 07:55, 19 August 2012 (UTC)

Fdof, there is nothing logically difficult about understanding privilege (although it seems like we need to be using a more precise statement of the concept, like "minority privilege" or something like that). Privilege as it's being discussed here is a spandrel. It's a result of cultural perceptions, not a specific decision to say that one group is better (although it frequently does result from the latter, it's not the same thing). Think of it by analogy to delusional parasitosis. Yes, something is clearly going on, and there's no question that the victim is suffering. But no matter what the victim perceives, the etiology is something entirely different from what it appears. The comparison here isn't exact, but I hope it explains it at least as far as saying that there is something going on in Western culture that favors straight white Christian males and anyone who can pass for one. (Passing is a major demonstration that privilege does in fact exist -- if it didn't, nobody would bother to try.) EVDebs (talk) 19:08, 19 August 2012 (UTC)
But white people in general do NOT have the possibility of gaining the legacy preference. Only some do. That is my whole point. While one can make statements about what is "statistically" true, that doesn't change the fact that it is misleading. If I have ten people in a room, and I give $10,000,000 to one of them, then "statistically", they all had their average wealth increased by $1,000,000 but in reality, the vast majority didn't receive any benefit, and describing this as saying "The average wealth of people in the room increased by $1,000,000" is wildly misleading.Fdof (talk) 19:53, 28 August 2012 (UTC)
Yes, white people in general DO have a greater possibility of gaining the legacy preference. If you want to collapse everything down into "people who have legacy preference" and "people who do not have legacy preference" then there's no statistical model involved. You have two groups, people with legacy preference, and people who don't. But when we're talking about a statistical group of people, those people are arbitrary, and random, and the question is asked "what are the chances of them having trait X". "'The average wealth of people in the room increased by $1,000,000' is wildly misleading." Misleading perhaps, BUT TRUE. And it's only misleading people some people can't seem to get their fucking brains around statistics.
If passing is evidence of privilege, isn't lack of benefit to passing evidence that "privilege" is an inaccurate term? And given that legacy preferences are not given to those who pass, doesn't that suggest that "privilege" is an inaccurate term?Fdof (talk) 19:53, 28 August 2012 (UTC)
Well, both passing and privilege are contextual things. If there's no benefit to passing in that context, then the concept of privilege (as we're discussing it) is meaningless, but only in that context. In the case you describe, the definition of privilege doesn't seem to apply without more information about the situation, and since it's a toy model, there isn't any to be had. When discussing privilege and passing, the concepts apply when the privileged people are the norm, and the people who stand out are inherently viewed with suspicion. It isn't even necessarily a conscious thing; when people who are perceived as "normal" don't receive negative treatment that those who are perceived as "other" regularly do, that's what the definition of privilege under discussion here is. (It's somewhat like social Darwinist misinterpretations of natural selection, in fact probably intimately related.) The really important thing is that this is a thing which happens, and "privilege" is the term that those to whom it happens because they don't have it have chosen to describe it with. As I said before, the use of terminology is confusing and occasionally a bit inflammatory, but we have to work with the language as it's given. EVDebs (talk) 00:39, 29 August 2012 (UTC)
"If passing is evidence of privilege, isn't lack of benefit to passing evidence that "privilege" is an inaccurate term?" No, lack of evidence is not proof of non existence. Privilege need not be guaranteed, or certain in order to apply. Yes, a man could be mugged and raped while walking alone on the streets, yet they still do not typically worry about it, why? BECAUSE IT DOESN'T HAPPEN VERY OFTEN. Likewise, not every woman who walks through the streets at night alone will get raped, but this doesn't mean that they can stop worrying about it happening, why? BECAUSE IT HAPPENS OFTEN. --Eira OMTG! The Goat be Praised. 07:21, 30 August 2012 (UTC)

Importance could be higher[edit]

Considering privilege as defined here is a major issue with what's going on in the skeptical community, not to mention an incredibly widely misunderstood concept to begin with, I would have to say the importance of this article is HIGH. EVDebs (talk) 23:36, 19 August 2012 (UTC)

I'll push it up. Scarlet A.pngtheist 23:38, 19 August 2012 (UTC)

Removed examples that are manifestations of reality rather than social factors, and tits.[edit]

A woman having to hide her tits isn't a "social factor"? OnTheInternetNobodyKnowsYou'reAGod (talk) 03:49, 7 October 2012 (UTC)

Rules against baring one's privates apply to both men and women (some would say they are applied more stringently to men, although that might just be because men comprise the majority of flashers). Reality takes over from there. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 03:52, 7 October 2012 (UTC)
Right, but what's social is the question of what body parts count as "privates". Mesn's torsos aren't. Women's are. It's socially determined, at least here where I live,that tits are a private part in some contexts--walking down the street--but not in others--at the beach. and in other places, tits aren't a private part at all. different societies, different ideas of private parts. Ain't nothing natural about it son. Men enjoy a privilege of being able to display parts of their bodies that women often--but by no means universally--don't. OnTheInternetNobodyKnowsYou'reAGod (talk) 03:57, 7 October 2012 (UTC)
Ah, right; men have mammary glands that they are "able to display," then? Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 03:59, 7 October 2012 (UTC)
Men have nipples which they are able to display more easily than women. A guy with moobs can go topless without getting in trouble. An A-cup or less woman cannot. And then there's this: No mammary glands, still can't swim topless. Why? Social privilege. OnTheInternetNobodyKnowsYou'reAGod (talk) 04:05, 7 October 2012 (UTC)
Try reading the headline again; it will become apparent that the lady was allowed to swim topless. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 04:11, 7 October 2012 (UTC)
Try reading past the headline, there can be interesting stuff there: "Initially when I heard about the reversal, I was elated. Then it came that it wasn’t a policy change, it was just an exception for me. Then I was quite deflated. It seemed like it was a reaction that it was just meant to appease me,” the 47-year-old said Thursday. Jaecks wants to make sure her privilege is also extended to other breast cancer survivors who want to swim comfortably." See that word? "privilege," son. Privilege. OnTheInternetNobodyKnowsYou'reAGod (talk) 04:18, 7 October 2012 (UTC)
After the offending boob was cut off yes. But the fact that boobs are prohibited is 100% a question of male privlidge. Men can't handle seeing boobs, I guess. Consdier this: in the US movie system, any **female** nipple in ANY context will get you an R. Even if the nipple shown is in teh most artistic, touching emotional scene about a woman who is going to lose her boob due to cancer. That's male privileged. Green mowse.pngGodotrien ne marcherait 04:21, 7 October 2012 (UTC)
Breasts get you an R, flaccid pricks get you an NC-17. Male privilege, indeed. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 04:27, 7 October 2012 (UTC)
How about this. The USA is strangle anal about the human body in general. --Revolverman (talk) 04:29, 7 October 2012 (UTC)
Quite. Many discussions involving "privilege" consist of cherry picking one side or aspect of some social custom or policy, then using this as "evidence" for "privilege." Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 04:31, 7 October 2012 (UTC)
A female placid organ gets you an nc-17 as well. The point is that women are more bound in having to cover up than men. In every circumstance. There is no instance, in any culture I can think of, where men have to cover some part of the body women can leave uncovered. Yet many if not most cultures define areas women must cover, that men do not have to. Green mowse.pngGodotrien ne marcherait 04:33, 7 October 2012 (UTC)
Is that privilege, or just the manifestation of many societies not being able to handle the nude human body? I mean what is considered "nudity" are the parts Men and woman do not share. --Revolverman (talk) 04:38, 7 October 2012 (UTC)
When it comes to Western formal dress, women can wear sandals and sleeveless garments and men cannot; but I suppose that is just splitting hairs. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 04:40, 7 October 2012 (UTC)
Well, this went retarded real quick. Scarlet A.pngbominationModerator 05:08, 7 October 2012 (UTC)
Indeed. Things were going along nicely until somebody blundered in and started reverting without so much as an edit comment. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 05:15, 7 October 2012 (UTC)
My understanding was that the concept of "privilege" didn't necessarily have to apply to socially-imposed circumstances; if it did, you would have a hard time in some cases determining what qualifies as which. Do factors that result naturally from one social group significantly outnumbering another in a particular country/region count as social or natural? 98.110.80.151 (talk) 02:05, 28 May 2013 (UTC)

Related article[edit]

I'm not sure what to call it, but do we have (or should we have) a related article about 'splainin'? That is, arguing from a position of privilege, while being blind to the difference privelege makes? eg whitesplain' or mansplainin'. Sorry I'm not very good at being clear today. SophieWilder 20:56, 5 December 2012 (UTC)

I've never quite understood what it actually means beyond being a snarl word to describe when an MRA opens their mouth, irrespective of what comes out of it. Scarlet A.pngpatheticModerator 21:02, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
Is this like the experience of having your husband tell you how you are supposed to feel while on the rag? or telling you that "god, it's just blood, what is the big deal?" Or having some white guy tell you that "if only you'd not get into the gangs it would be so easy for you". --Green mowse.pngGodot She was a venus demilo in her sister's jeans 21:04, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
Does that make "You just don't get it, do you!" womansplaining? Scarlet A.pngpatheticModerator 21:17, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
pro'ly. especially if she just don't get it!--Green mowse.pngGodot She was a venus demilo in her sister's jeans 21:19, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
I don't think this needs a separate article. It's an extension of the idea of privilege, that a member of a privileged group will often assume to know more about anything within the domain of their privilege than a member of a corresponding underprivileged group, even if that knowledge falls in the direct experience of the underprivileged group. Blue Talk 07:36, 6 December 2012 (UTC)
Specifically, it's an application of the privilege that "men know best" for women, or "whites know best" for minorities, or cis people know best for trans people. It's incredibly common if you think about it. Blue Talk 07:40, 6 December 2012 (UTC)

No, really[edit]

Can we make this article more, y'know, "rational"/snarky like the rest of our sh't? I mean, yeah, no, not to make fun of the concept entirely, like a bunch of privileged bastards like us would do; but to at least present some balancing viewpoints too. I think we can really understand the concept of privilege and what it's good for, and at the same time show that we do not support its rampant abuse and misuse to win arguments/to feel superior/etc. (Do some of you even know how ridiculous it's gotten? There exist "privilege checklists" called "Human Privilege Checklist" (re otherkin) and "Singlet Privilege Checklist" (re people with "headmates"/imaginary friends/alt personas).) I've seen too much of the "check your privilege/educate yourself and shut up until your opinion matches mine" bullsh't on tumblr, I really think RW of all places should address that kind of thing. Left-wing nuts are still nuts, you know. — Haamer 09:38, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

Linked by...[edit]

.../r/sjsucks: Isn't this supposed to be Rational Wiki? (Drink!) In case you are wondering, the name of the sub-reddit stands for "social justice sucks". There's a commenter who claims that "The skeptic community, though, is usually very far leftwing with an authoritarian slant". :) I must have missed the skeptical conferences on Marxism-Leninism...--ZooGuard (talk) 08:44, 19 April 2013 (UTC)

I take that as a seal of approval. Scarlet A.pngpathetic 19:31, 22 April 2013 (UTC)
Good lord what a bunch of idiots. "It doesn't have that definition in my dictionary so it can't mean that." Um, yeah, sure. Because British people are talking about throwing grass at someone when they say "sod it". EVDebs (talk) 22:37, 19 May 2013 (UTC)
D'ya think the argumentum ad dictionarium should be raised explicitly in the article? Seems like it should be addressed since it's a FAQ. Scarlet A.pnggnostic 14:08, 20 May 2013 (UTC)
Maybe? I think we should probably have an article on that to begin with. EVDebs (talk) 17:15, 20 May 2013 (UTC)
Sort of have that already. But I think perhaps the article lede could be clearer that it's not what privilege "is" so much as "how it's used in this setting". Scarlet A.pngbomination 17:44, 20 May 2013 (UTC)
I think some of the examples section needs a bit of a kick about. I don't think a big bullet-point list should be there before the concept is introduced thoroughly and blindness hasn't been covered. Scarlet A.pngmoral 17:54, 20 May 2013 (UTC)
Okay, so I've added in two worked examples with a fairly flogging-a-dead-horse approach to explaining the concept, but I think it's a necessity. People should go over that and refine it, of course, but I think that's a better structure. The tl;dr list is at the end and comes after blindness and conflict are thoroughly explained. Scarlet A.pngnarchist 18:15, 20 May 2013 (UTC)

Utopia will look like?[edit]

Compare the actual examples of "privilege," such as the example of some being wealthy and others being poor, with the "its not faaaaiiiir" whining of women and homosexuals. I mean it's not like their utopia is achievable. Could you imagine a world where men didn't care about promiscuity or where women weren't attracted to promiscuous men? Could you imagine having bathrooms that aren't "gendered?" Could you imagine a world where normal people weren't disgusted by homosexual PDA? — Unsigned, by: KingtheKing / talk / contribs

Could you imagine a society that looks different than industrial Euro-America? Why, things would be all higgledy-piggledy! Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 23:36, 29 June 2013 (UTC)
We already have bathrooms that aren't gendered. We have since before Ally McBeal. Ever seen a men's sign on a portable toilet?--"Shut up, Brx." 23:54, 29 June 2013 (UTC)
Great solution.
I know! It's public policy ideas like that that show why I should be moderator. Have I sent you a mass email?--"Shut up, Brx." 02:16, 30 June 2013 (UTC)
The fact that liberals run society and yet they still whine that they can't change anything is proof that I am right. What they ask is to abolish human nature. It's like fat women whining that men aren't attracted to them. Pathetic. KingtheKing (talk) 01:44, 30 June 2013 (UTC)
"Can you imagine a world where normal people weren't disgusted by homosexual PDA?" Many of them exist, just so happens you don't live in one. Might as well say "Can you imagine a world where whites weren't disgusted by niggers on the same beach?" And my personal digital assistant is perfectly clean, thank you very much. Polite Timesplitter Let's move on to some other area of sodomy! 09:26, 30 June 2013 (UTC)
Compare the whining of women and homosexuals who have legitimate concerns about being marginalised & abused with the whining of straight white male internet trolls apparently angry that feminism & the LGBT movement even exist. ŴêâŝêîôîďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 16:24, 30 June 2013 (UTC)
Poor dears. Just can't tie a faggot to a fence and beat them to death without someone complaining about it any more... Scarlet A.pngsshole 21:15, 1 July 2013 (UTC)
Compare one instance of supposed homophobia with the hundreds of incidents of hate crime committed by blacks against whites.KingtheKing (talk) 02:08, 4 July 2013 (UTC)
Oooh, clever, the "trying to use liberals' language against them" trick. We've only seen that a few hundred million times. Totally caught us off guard. Oy... EVDebs (talk) 08:39, 4 July 2013 (UTC)
A) Completely irrelevant to this argument. B) You assume a racial edge to that rather then simple criminal. Weren't you bitching about that kinda "thinking" on other talk-pages? What is it? Better keep your stories straight! --Revolverman (talk) 09:02, 4 July 2013 (UTC)
Sure, one instance of supposed homophobia] with the hundreds of incidents of hate crime committed by blacks against whites. Scarlet A.pngnarchist 19:03, 4 July 2013 (UTC)

The ultimate privilege[edit]

Actually, I'm convinced. The concept of "privilege" is valid and excellent. Like the closely allied doctrine of unconscious racism that never goes away, no matter how opposed you are to racism in your chosen value system, it does one thing and does it well.

It's the excuse you were looking for to stop caring. After all, because of who you were born, you'll never understand. You're only fooling yourself if you try. Don't look at it as an insult; look at it as an opportunity. Pick up that get out of jail free card and run with it.

Time to man up and lighten up. You've done all you are able to end racism, sexism, &c., by turning in your KKK membership. If the privilege hypothesis is true, little more can be expected of you. You'll still be a racist; you were born one, and can't stop. It's only a problem to the extent you'd prefer not to be a racist. But according to revealed and infallible truth, you can't not be one, no matter how hard you try. Time to accept it and stop caring.

More importantly, it gives you an excuse. Never give up a good excuse. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 15:02, 26 September 2013 (UTC)

Do you have any specific suggestions for improving the article, or...?--ZooGuard (talk) 19:03, 26 September 2013 (UTC)
I do think the tone is a bit off for an article about a piece of aggressive political cant. But then again, since I'm always going to be a sexist and a racist anyways, from the implied perspective of the article, it's cant that I'll never understand, and therefore don't have to pay any attention to. If you do actually care about racism, sexism, or the like, you probably should understand how and why the "privilege" meme is self-defeating. Fortunately, it lets me off the hook. I do think that Godwin's law should at least be discussed in the context. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 19:17, 26 September 2013 (UTC)
Nowhere does the concept of privilege tell you that you can ignore your privileges, anymore than the concept of bias tells you that you can ignore your biases. Can you ever truly become absolutely and totally unbiased? No. Does this mean that you can't be aware of your biases and work to spot and correct them and understand how they interact with your thought processes? No. Imagine if a sophist walked into a room and declared, "I am biased, and I will always be biased, and I can't understand what it's like to be completely unbiased, therefore I don't have to be unbiased." You're concurrently invoking a naturalistic fallacy and violating the is-ought distinction.
Also I'm not sure why you brought up Godwin's law, but to me it reads as if you have have Godwin's law'd Godwin's law. Shadow of Lords talk 20:12, 26 September 2013 (UTC)
The article is telling me basically that there are certain ideas and ways of understanding that are closed to me because of who I am. Assuming this is the case, it seems unreasonable to expect me to have the ability to ever take such unknowable things into account.
Actually, it's you who's violating the is-ought distinction: your sophist has it exactly right. It might be desirable for him to be unbiased, he might want to be unbiased, but if that's impossible, it can't reasonably be expected of him. He certainly doesn't deserve blame for failing. The point is that the privilege doctrine is not only divisive: but that it operates as a disincentive to care about racism, sexism, and etcetera. By telling people they'll never understand, it gives them every reason not to listen, and to write you off as a waste of time. And that's why its appearance marks the end of conversation as well. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 20:40, 26 September 2013 (UTC)
You *CAN* understand the concept of privilege, just like you *CAN* understand the concept of bias. You *CAN* understand how, having both of them, they color your perception of the world. The argument you seem to be forming is part straw man, part naturalistic fallacy, all bad. Understanding the concept of privilege isn't the same as being unprivileged, but you seem to be saying that privilege means "One should know what it's like to be somebody less privileged". That is the straw man. Privilege doesn't mean that you have to understand what it's like to be poor (for example), but you do have to understand that poor people do know what it's like to be poor, more so than you. Acknowledging privilege is the same as acknowledging bias. Building on your straw-man version of privilege, you then assert that "Because I can't know what it's like to be unprivileged, it's bad to ask me to try to be unprivileged". That's the naturalistic fallacy.
I have not violated the is-ought distinction because I haven't put forward an argument for what you *ought* to do. You have put forward an argument for what you ought to do ("One ought to not learn about privilege because one can't be unprivileged") I have refuted it.
I will state it one more time just to let it sink in. Learning about privilege doesn't mean not having privilege. It means learning how your own perceptions can be wrong. If we were to take your logic, we ought to delete every single article on this site about bias, because it's impossible to be unbiased so we might as well not even try to understand that we have biases. Shadow of Lords talk 21:46, 26 September 2013 (UTC)
It strikes me as a rhetorical problem, mostly: a question, not of truth or falsity, but rather about how to frame an argument to convince and motivate other people.
I never understood that the point of the privilege doctrine was simply to assert the existence of privilege. Rather, it's a part of a larger picture, a body of political and cultural doctrine that seeks sympathy, converts, and allies. In other words, the point is not whether poor people know what it's like to be poor; of course I assume they do. The point is whether I can learn from poor people what it's like to be poor; and more importantly, can I be enlisted in some kind of agenda that will alleviate some of their problems or address inequality of resource distribution. And that's where "privilege" becomes counterproductive, pigeonholing people and saying that the people in Column A will never understand the troubles of those in Column B. (Stated that way, it also stinks of strong Whorfianism. Your thoughts are constrained by the words you know.) - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 02:01, 27 September 2013 (UTC)
If your reaction to hearing about privilege is to decide you should stop caring, you're a horrible person. You could become a non-horrible person, of course, if you don't mind giving up on whining about being told you have privilege and finding out why the term exists and means what it does in the first place. EVDebs (talk) 22:46, 26 September 2013 (UTC)
Now we're getting somewhere. If you stop caring, you may be a horrible person. But not caring is the sanest response to the doctrines of privilege and unconscious racism. Both tell you that no matter how you try you'll never measure up, because of who you are and the way you were born.
Moreover, the people likeliest to be exposed to the doctrine are the people who are interested in caring. They're being told that they can never understand and that their opinions come at a steep discount. If you want to start a cult for only the Elect, that might not be an issue. If you want to start a movement to change society you're shooting yourself in the foot with this nonsense.
Perhaps the article ought to distinguish between privilege as an academic concept, which may be valid; and privilege as an argumentative gambit, which can be and frequently is wrong, does your credibility no good, and tends to poison the well of further discussion. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 02:01, 27 September 2013 (UTC)
No, no, no, NO, NO, NO, FUCK NO. Even granting that "check your privilege" is used that way, it's used as such a lot less than people claim. If someone tells you to check your privilege, the FIRST thing you should assume is that they're telling you that you're not paying attention to something important in the argument. The proper response is to stop, shut the fuck up, and reevaluate what you just said, compose your response, re-fucking-read it, rewrite as necessary, then respond. Lather, rinse, repeat as necessary until either the conversation advances or you're convinced that your debate opponent is a complete blockhead. (Yes, that does happen. Some social justice warriors are just that fucked up. But not nearly as many of them as people want to think.) EVDebs (talk) 04:10, 27 September 2013 (UTC)
In a less ranty mode: ultimately, you can't understand first-hand what it's like to be someone else, but come on, when did "a mile in their shoes" stop being a principle of social interaction? It isn't even complicated to explain in Internet terms. The rule going back as far as I can remember (and I've had an internet connection for going on two decades now) is that when you enter a forum, you lurk for a while and learn the lay of the land before you go ahead and start posting. This is exactly what "check your privilege" is telling you to do. When you're discussing someone else's culture, consider yourself a guest in their house, and behave as you are expected to. They'll let you know what you can get away with. In fact, I'm going to add that analogy to the article right now. EVDebs (talk) 04:19, 27 September 2013 (UTC)
It's a sign that they've entered a hostile environment, in other words. No matter how you try to spin it, it will always sound patronizing, because it is. What will happen in that case is that either the victim of privilegesplaining will leave and not return; or their ignore list will grow. When "privilege" is used as a weapon against you, you learn not to care, and to return the favor and ignore whatever they were carrying on about. After all, you already know you have nothing to contribute and will be ignored. Whatever its merits in fact, as rhetoric it's self-defeating. Let people carry on about privilege, and in the fullness of time they'll talk only to themselves.
"Privilege" is yet another of the idées fixes that dooms the political left in this country to irrelevance, a fact that somewhat vexes me. I am by no means a committed leftist -- in case you couldn't tell -- but it does seem to me that we'd have a healthier society if more attention were paid to wealth distribution. But the people who ought to be paying attention have been distracted by identity politics, and its invitation to a gestural politics of empty tokenism, as surely as the right wing footsoldiers have been distracted by abortion and gay weddings. The appeal to victimhood is ultimately self-defeating. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 14:59, 27 September 2013 (UTC)
what is this i dont even EVDebs (talk) 18:12, 27 September 2013 (UTC)
Your new argument appears to be, "It hurts the movement therefore it's wrong." Things can be unpopular political moves and still be the right thing to do. We can talk about pragmatism, but you still haven't really done anything but claim that it will hurt the "movement". You just assert that people don't like it, therefore we shouldn't do it. But, I'm not so sure. Perhaps the people who will refuse to accept the concept of privilege weren't willing to become better in any case and would just use "I don't like privilege" as an excuse. I think it's more likely that, even if lots of people are going to continue to reject the concept, by having it established we may end up creating a better society when younger people understand and accept it. I can defend this further if you'd like.
You also seem to be trying to pull something quite similar as a "not as bad as" fallacy. "Privilege is not as bad as problems with the wealth distribution, therefore we shouldn't talk about privilege and should focus on the wealth distribution." Is it not possible to discuss both? Must we spend 100% of our time talking about the one most important issue if we should discover it? It also implies that these are something like non-overlapping magisteria. But they are two highly related fields. If you can understand privilege, you can understand *WHY* the wealth distribution is bad. Your accusation of identity politics is also meaningless. I could turn it around and say, "Talking about the wealth distribution is identity politics AND class warfare! It also distracts from talking about the problem of global starvation!", but that would be stupid. Again, I'm still not convinced that there's some giant intersection resulting in a group of people who are A) willing to change their minds and B) won't now that somebody said privilege because it huwt their pwetty pwetty fee fees. Shadow of Lords talk 18:53, 27 September 2013 (UTC)
The whole concept that certain people should focus on issue X and not be distracted by issue Y (e.g. "the left" should be worrying about the economy & forget about identity politics) is a silly fallacy. This was addressed at the Saloon Bar recently, here. €₳$£ΘĪÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 19:44, 27 September 2013 (UTC)
Believe it or not, I know people on the left who follow that line of thinking, although their issues tend to be foreign policy and privacy. I hear the odd firebagger calling Obama's presidency a failed one and come away wondering wtf their criteria are, considering PPACA and significant advances in non-privacy-related civil rights. (Well, except for the VRA preclearance thing, but that wasn't Obama's fault. Not a damn thing he could have done about it.) EVDebs (talk) 20:16, 27 September 2013 (UTC)
Oh I dont know, Gitmo still around, TSA still violating people's rights. PATRIOT act still in force and enpowered, Obama claiming the right to use Drones to kill any US citizen without trial, warmongering just as much as Bush... Shall I go on? --Revolverman (talk) 20:21, 27 September 2013 (UTC)
Let's see. Obama did try to close Gitmo, but Congress threw a NIMBY fit and wouldn't let him. The Patriot Act needs to go and the TSA needs work; i'm not defending everything he's done. I do not care about the drones per se; they're a red herring, and make perfect sense from a strategic standpoint -- it simply doesn't make sense to send soldiers into harm's way if you don't have to. I do however think the targeting of innocent civilians has got to go; however, that's been an ongoing problem since air power became part of war, and although there's a lot less of it than there used to be, and some outright incompetence going on, but it's entirely possible we're just lucky that firebombing entire cities is no longer considered a valid tactic. Rethinking our entire military doctrine is probably a very, very good idea. Now, as for Obama being as much of a warmonger as Bush... I don't see it. At all. The US presence in Iraq is now mostly civilian contractors subject to Iraqi laws, and since they're mercs, meh. I would shed no tears if the Iraqis arrested and deported every single one of them. We're ramping down in Afghanistan. We were in and out of Libya in a couple weeks, and Syria wound up in a diplomatic settlement, which I strongly suspect was Obama's intent all along. (Yes, I think he would have bombed Syria if it came to that. No, I do not think he actually wanted to. Obama and Putin played Assad like a Stradivarius.) All in all, although I don't think Obama's done everything right, I think he's done almost as good a job as expected given what he was given. (Yes, I do buy into the 11-dimensional chess meme. I tried not to, but after Syria I came to the conclusion that things come up in Obama's favor far too often to be dumb luck.) EVDebs (talk) 20:41, 27 September 2013 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I think it is true that, with the rise of "Third Way" Clinton-ite liberalism, identity politics is increasingly used as a fig-leaf. I've heard it said, and this sums it up really well, that "diversity" in the current political climate means nothing more than the diversification of elites. The fact that it can be used for dubious ideological purposes doesn't make the concept of privilege invalid, however. Sort of like how cranks' love for the term "scientism" doesn't invalidate the concept of scientism itself. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 20:33, 27 September 2013 (UTC)

Hm. I wouldn't phrase it the way you did ("diversification of elites"? I'd say "sharing the reins of power"...) but I also would argue that what you're talking about is not actually a bad thing, since we definitely need more perspectives in power to represent the interests of as many people as possible. As for "scientism"... I'm not convinced that actually means anything that really exists, unless you count singularitarian transhumanists. Is there anyone who understands science who actually thinks like that? EVDebs (talk) 20:41, 27 September 2013 (UTC)
If you mean, "Are there scientists who believe in scientism", then yes. I know a few of them myself. There are some scientists who legitimately believe that everything in the universe will eventually be testable. I'm not sure how I feel about it myself, but most of the folks I know who think that way think philosophy as a whole is a bunch of garbage. - GrantC (talk) 20:46, 27 September 2013 (UTC)
See, I see nothing wrong with the assumption that everything we can observe can ultimately be tested. That's not scientism; that's science. Now, as for philosophy... I've said (and caught flack for saying) that whenever philosophy comes up with something useful, it gets spun off into a different subject, and it's likely getting very close to a place where it has nothing left to give us. Logic? More akin to math than anything we'd currently call philosophy. Lit crit? That's a whole kettle of fish in and of itself, but it's its own discipline. Metaphysics? Show me something that exists that is meta, and I will consider it part of the observable world, and therefore a matter for scientific study. Philosophy seems to me to be getting close to a purely historical subject. (I have been informed that analytical philosophy is alive and well, but it seems to me that it's only called philosophy for lack of a better name.) EVDebs (talk) 20:56, 27 September 2013 (UTC)
Also, Paul Feyerabend was a jackass. EVDebs (talk) 21:02, 27 September 2013 (UTC)
(ec)"Sharing the reins of power..." Exactly. The line of criticism is that, by omitting discussions of class, this form of identity politics does nothing to ameliorate economic exploitation -- rather, it simply allows racial, ethnic, gender, etc. minorities to also participate in said exploitation. As for scientism, I disagree, but that's tangential. Let me put it another way: It's analagous to the way eugenics does not invalidate evolution. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 20:52, 27 September 2013 (UTC)
That seems like an overly pessimistic evaluation of the planned goals. Past experience seems to show that change has to happen at the top in order for change at the bottom to make any long-term difference; the Civil Rights movement would have failed without getting Kennedy and LBJ on their side. I think also that the left, being generally defined by the times it exists in, has a tendency to focus on whatever the most pressing issue is. After the recent spate of right-to-work laws, I suspect that within ten years, labor and class issues will be back on the table in a big way. EVDebs (talk) 21:01, 27 September 2013 (UTC)
My opinion is that the political left in the USA has been almost exclusively sidetracked by identity politics. The "privilege" doctrine is just the tip of the iceberg here; it just sticks out like a sore thumb because it's frequently used in patronizing ways. The larger problem is the preoccupation with social influence. This is the big problem: a left that focuses very intently on social influence, language, imagery, representation, symbolism, and other non-material goals. The revolution consists entirely of thinking correct thoughts, using correct words, and displaying appropriate attitudes constantly. But in the boardroom, everyone breathes a sigh of relief. The revolution will not cost them anything.
You may call this a "starving children in Africa" argument. But some problems are, in fact, more important than others. A living wage for everybody strikes me as a higher priority goal than telling white people they'll never understand what it's like to be Black. At least, that's what I think.
The privilege doctrine is patronizing cant about insubstantial issues. Again, if you're starting a cult that might not be a problem; you can afford to push people away. If you're trying to start a political movement that can effectively change society, that may not be a luxury you can afford: at least not at your current levels of impact and influence. If you really think that deconstructing the patriarchal phallus is a bigger deal than the peonization of the American labor force, obviously I won't convince you. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 21:24, 27 September 2013 (UTC)
I am totally baffled as to how you manage to function as a human being when you're so willing to define other peoples' boundaries for them. EVDebs (talk) 23:43, 27 September 2013 (UTC)
Some problems may be more important than others, Smerdis. However, your argument seems to be that talking about "identity politics" will drive white people away from the left, but income disparity is more important than "identity politics" and therefore we should talk about income disparity. Somehow we are supposed to accept that people won't just complain about "class warfare" when this issue gets brought up. Yes, some subset of the people may reject these discussions as "identity politics" and "class warfare". This doesn't mean that we must stop discussing either of them. You seem perfectly willing to accept this with the wealth disparity, but with privilege it somehow magically becomes an unsurpassable issue and we should just ignore it. It seems to me that what's really happening, Smerdis, is *you* feel alienated by the concept of privilege so you don't want to talk about it, and you're using the equivalent of "It's just trying to make white people feel guilty" to make it go away. Shadow of Lords talk 23:54, 27 September 2013 (UTC)
I cheerfully concede that I do believe the "class warfare" problems are somewhat more pressing than anything in the "identity politics" category. And yes, I do resent the privilege doctrine, and that moves me to find fault with it. Blame the messenger if you will, but there are plenty; it seems an instance of "strategic essentialism", pigeonholing people because it's to someone's advantage to do so. The whole focus on social influence, language, imagery, representation, symbolism, and other non-material goals is not only politically ineffectual, it's mentally invasive. Your secret thoughts will be judged. There is a large academic industry devoted to uncovering the racial and genderly sins of ... well, just about everything from Gilgamesh to Dr. Seuss. Identity politics aspires to the omnipresence of Spam in the Monty Python skit. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 05:15, 28 September 2013 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Do you, Smerdis, feel you are able to make judgments towards black Americans who fear being arrested because of police officers' known racial biases? Or do you feel that someone who hasn't lived that life should learn others' perspectives before making judgments? Wehpudicabok [話] [変] 05:27, 28 September 2013 (UTC)

I do feel I am able, and I have. By natural temperament, persistent habit, and choice of profession, I stand with the accused and against the state in every such situation. This is what I do; and yes, I do believe that their fears are well founded in fact. When the world goes pointing its fingers at people and saying "Blame them! Blame them!" my ingrained habits tell me to take their side. And I do try to do this as consistently as I am humanly able. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 05:43, 28 September 2013 (UTC)
Ah, I think I understand what's going on here. The whole concept of "privilege" is supposed to chastise people who don't give a damn about others, by showing that their lives are harder than outsiders may understand. You already understand this, so when you come across people saying that "people in the majority don't understand what it's like to be a minority," your laudable empathy with minorities is seemingly ignored, and when empathy is wrongly ignored, it causes resentment. I think when you come across people criticizing "those who have privilege," you should read that as "assholes who have privilege" and understand that you aren't the one being criticized.
Also, in my personal experience, identity politics comes pretty far down the list of the American left's priorities. Much more important are creating long-term environmental sustainability (especially switching to renewable resources and combating global warming), removing corporate influence from politics, and addressing income inequality and the broken health care system. Those are the issues that I hear about most from leftist writers and TV pundits. Privilege to me is only really hammered on by teenage tumblr users and this guy, who's a parody of teenage tumblr users anyway. Wehpudicabok [話] [変] 05:56, 28 September 2013 (UTC)
Now it just looks like you want somebody to update the article to say, "Except Smerdis, because he's a really swell guy who perfectly is able to perfectly empathize with the experiences of everyone in the world no matter their race, upbringing, time period, wealth, or gender, and for whom qualia is totally not a problem ever. You should give him a cookie if you ever see him and personally thank him for being so great." I think I'm done here. Shadow of Lords talk 14:23, 28 September 2013 (UTC)
I don't pretend to be a "really swell guy", but I do try to be aware of my limits and flaws, and to keep my expectations of myself low and of other people lower. I do also believe that most forms of utopian egalitarianism make unreasonable demands of the human animal. The privilege doctrine is no different. At heart, it seems to want to rewire the human brain's set of social instincts for dealing with first impressions and strangers, with its naive essentialism and visual pigeonholing. That strikes me as excessive ambition in a political program, though it might not be impossible. I think we're better off cultivating awareness of the limitations of our pre-rational reactions. Identity politics, with its assumption that all human behavior is learned behavior, is a part of the problem and not a part of the solution. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 18:27, 28 September 2013 (UTC)
Shadow of Lords, I'm just trying to extend an olive branch to an editor with whom I frequently disagree. I'm not proposing we change the article. Wehpudicabok [話] [変] 01:17, 29 September 2013 (UTC)
Sorry, was not directed at you Wehp. Shadow of Lords talk 18:27, 29 September 2013 (UTC)

Ableism[edit]

It seems we have an anon who objects to the cant phrase "privilege blindness", because this phrase offends by its "ableism". (Please, let it not be there. [Whew].) This objection fills me with untold delight, deep down in the bottom of my soul. Fortunately, I have a soul, and therefore am equipped to experience this delight. You have to admit that, in at least some wee, small, fundamentalist sense, the objection seems to have prima facie merit. There is no point beyond which this kind of grievance-nursing doesn't get silly, it seems. Fiat iustitia et ruat caelumwp. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 06:54, 7 November 2013 (UTC)

Yeah, that is pretty ridiculous. Wehpudicabok [話] [変] 07:03, 7 November 2013 (UTC)
And yet, the fact that someone would put in the effort to object to this, probably because they're hurt by it, is just demonstrating your own privilege obliviousness? I don't think it's going to detract from the article to provide an alternative word which is indeed less problematic. We don't have a vocabulary shortage, yet we do have systemic invisibility on the axis of ablism - Anon 05:17, December 23 2013 (UTC)
I agree with Anon, in the context of this article: blindness is seen as a bad or lesser thing to be (obliviousness), to which people with blindness would quite plausibly think this perpetuates being blind as a lesser state of being (and in turn becomes problematic on the axis of ability). - buand (talk) 05:32, 23 December 2013 (UTC)
I also agree. In the realm of discourse where 'ableism' and 'privilege blindness' and 'problematic' are valid tokens, this is a legitimate and perhaps well played move. If you accept a set of moral assumptions it kinda-sorta makes sense, despite the longstanding usage of the blindness metaphor in this context. So long as your politics has nothing to do with uniting people to achieve a common goal, it's a point well worth making. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 05:43, 23 December 2013 (UTC)
I'd like to meet some non-crank blind people who think that the word "blind" has any special meaning beyond "can't see." Nutty Roux100x100 anarchy symbol.svg 12:54, 23 December 2013 (UTC)

Privilege For All[edit]

I wonder if it'd be worthwhile to point out at the end of the article that privilege as thusly explained is actually a good thing. (To be taken seriously, not be discriminated against, not having to disprove stereotypes, etc.) Much of the criticism against notions of "check your privilege" comes from people seeing "their" privilege and therefore themselves under attack, when in fact that notion simply asks of people to empathise with another perspective, which is hardly a bad thing and mostly an effortless endeavour. Bismarck (talk) 16:02, 27 February 2014 (UTC)

Why would we need to point out at the end stuff that's already stated in the first line & explained throughout? WėąṣėḷőįďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 18:33, 27 February 2014 (UTC)

There should be no need to explain that privilege is actually a good thing as this realization has come down to us from the traditional meaning of the word. The fact that the neologistic meaning represents a gratuitous concept, is not so easily disposed of.--C.