What Even is Privilege?

What Even is Privilege?

Helena Griffin, Contributor

In today’s society the discussion of privilege and how impactful it can be has become a more and more popular topic. While there are many individuals that claim that privilege doesn’t exist in today’s day and age, it has become clear that many people don’t fully understand the meaning of privilege is or even how it can look in everyday life. However, it is clear that on both sides of the argument no one can seem to reach a consensus.

Privilege is defined as a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people. There are many different types of privilege but the ones with the most significance today have to do with either race, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, citizenship, physical ability, health, level of education, disability, and socioeconomic status. 

When individuals with more privilege than others refuse to acknowledge that they had more opportunities because of their advantages, they help to perpetuate the problematic dynamic that occurs. It causes others to feel like their problems and struggles are insignificant and that others simply don’t care or have any respect for them. Privilege rears its ugly head in almost every form and area of life. It can help to secure jobs, or homes, or even insure your safety.

Privilege can look like many things. It can mean not getting fired because you got pregnant while you worked for a company and they don’t want to pay for maternity leave. It can mean not even getting a chance at a second interview because when you got there you didn’t fit the “look” for their company when really you just weren’t their desired race. It can mean not having the right to marry the people you love regardless of your gender until 2015. It can mean not getting to go to college and being able to find a good job because you couldn’t afford the tuition. It could even be not being allowed to use the bathroom that you feel comfortable with because your gender identity doesn’t align with the societal norms of what gender identity should be. 

More and more people have begun to oppose these stigmas and barriers that offer someone a significant step up in life with no extra work done, but this effort is far from over. It is important to educate yourself and others on what you can do to be an advocate for causes that work to break down privilege so that all people can have a fighting chance in life. Until everyone is treated equally no matter their differences there is no liberty, there is no justice, and there cannot be freedom until we are all allowed the same privileges as everyone else in society.