Ok, I’m already sorry. I slightly hate the phrase “check your privilege”. It’s used so frequently on the internet in entirely the wrong contexts.
That being said, I’ve noticed this article being bandied around several times recently. It’s called “18 Things Females Seem To Not Understand (Because, Female Privilege)” which admittedly is a poor place to start – I can’t think of a better way to rile up the feminists of the internet than be referring to my entire sex as “females” (regardless of how accurate that may be). It was followed up by this article, entitled “18 Reasons Why The Concept Of “Female Privilege” Is Insane”.
Now, let me be entirely controversial. I agree with both pieces.
The first lists a range of things which the writer considers to be “female privilege”, and honestly, they are. Just because many of them have counterpoints which highlight why feminism is still a just and worthy cause, doesn’t mean that any woman shouldn’t check her privilege *shudder* when using any of these points to justify herself in a given situation. The counter-argument article is just listing those valid counterpoints, not really challenging whether or not the original ideas are examples of female privilege.
Here’s what it comes down to. These are two lists which catalogue either stereotypes, or sad statistics. It is a terrible thing that we live in a world where so many women are subject to rape. It’s also terrible that so many men are denied access to their children due to a system which assumes that a mother is a more suitable guardian. It is deplorable that women who get drunk and have sex are automatically branded as ‘sluts’, and it’s as bad that men in the same position are branded ‘rapists’. None of these things are an excuse for the rampant misogyny and misandry which invariably follows.
I think it is fair to say that if these two articles highlight anything, it’s that in a modern world where we can be discursive and challenge issues related to gender inequality, we should all be checking our privilege all of the time.
Every time a stereotype is bandied around by an internet activist they need to check their internet activist privilege – because if anything we should be recognising that for every stereotype and every statistic there will be a valid counterpoint. Those of us lucky enough to sit around spouting our views on the internet are almost always the people who have the western, developed world privilege of living in a society where individuals are being recognised as individuals, not confined to exclusivist views related to their race, gender, sexuality and religion. So let’s stop with the lists insisting that generalised groups check their privilege. If you think you have a right to come out with something like that, it’s your own privilege you need to be checking.
…and with that, she checked her mouthy-internet-feminist-cum-egalitarian privilege, decided she was all good, and published her post.