The perils of so-called “privilege”

Sometimes I feel like being a straight, white, anglo-saxon protestant, with a physically imposing stature and strong (some would say over-inflated) sense of self worth, means I’m not allowed to voice an opinion on any minority position, or indeed any power imbalance… and indeed, when I dare to question a gay atheist, or contribute to a discussion on gender politics, my contribution is somehow invalid because my shoulder is not chipped the same way. What really gets me though, is when this happens in discussions about social conditions in an egalitarian, democratic society with universal suffrage. Life’s tough? Well vote the other people out and change it. Whiners. Sure, some WASP guy just took the job that you thought you were entitled to and is going to get paid more than you would have… well, perhaps he’s a better negotiator than you. Perhaps he went to the right school. It’s not always about gender. I don’t know about you, but if I ran a business I’d be wanting to hire the most competent candidate for the job. Gender is only an issue if you make it an issue. As is race. Sure, Andrew Johns made a profane and offensive statement, I’m not going to condone it, but do you think he thinks poorly of Greg Inglis because of his skin colour? His whole statement was predicated on Inglis’ extreme talent. I’ve got no doubt Johns said similarly derogatory things about Darren Lockyer. South Park’s Hate Crimes episode had it right – normal people these days don’t tend to pick on people of different races because they think they’re inherently less valuable than their own race. They just pick on people because of their own inherent sinfulness (all crimes are hate crimes).

Oh, to be an oppressed first world minority.

I think, if I ever want to tell people to just get on with life, I’ll need to invent an alter-ego who is a female, Muslim, gay midget from a third world African country with 18 children.

I could listen to Rage Against the Machine or enjoy other forms of artistic protest without feeling pangs of privilege induced guilt. Like a celebrity member of PETA. Then I could comment on any issue with impunity. And nobody would be able Most of the time my advice would be “life is not fair, suck it up, and get on with it.” Does anybody know of anybody with the aforementioned qualifications who voices such a message. I would buy their books.

As a member of this aristocratic class by a quirk of happenstance and genetics I feel like I’m missing out on plenty of opportunities to tell other people what to do, and can’t do so without appearing to be a bully.

I read all these minority reports online wishing I could be part of a minority so that I could passionately own a cause. Even the teams I support in sport are the “overdogs” – though there was a period of about ten years when Manly were lucky to win a game. There is no area in my life where I can call out “help, help, I’m being oppressed,” I’m not a member of any proletariat or suffrage movement. I didn’t ask to be who I am. There is not a majority position that I do not instinctively support. I am as boringly conformist as Kevin Rudd. I don’t even belong to a fashionable subset of society. I can’t dress to express myself, to distinguish myself from the masses of which I am a part. I am bland beyond individuality. A sunflower in a field of sunflowers. My cause du jour is the cause de rigueur.

There are many like me. Many not interesting people. Without exotic foibles. Without histories of oppression. Without an inherited sense of entitlement engendered by years of ancestral persecution, or the memory of a past wrong. For us there is no “audacity of hope,” but in its place the mendacity of hope.

White anglo-saxon protestant males earned their social standing. There is not a skerrick of progress in the western world in the last two thousand years that we have not worked for. That’s why we get paid more. That’s why the cards of society seem to fall in our favour. We see opportunities and we take them. Carpe diem.

If those in the minorities feel aggrieved by the power imbalance and wish to protest our implicit superiority – then why not stage a revolution. That’s how minorities achieve their ends. It’s not through whining and holding conferences or talkfests. Knock us off our perches. Don’t just complain that we’re on them. Just do something.

That is all.

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