I Won’t be Checking my Privilege

The whole idea of someone telling another person to “check your privilege” has always disturbed me.

First, it’s only something you would hear from “First World” people. I’ve been to a few third world countries, had many interactions with people in those countries, and no one ever told me to check my privilege.

Next, it makes no sense. Think about it that even in the “First World”, we all come from differing circumstances. Yes, different gender, race, ethnicity, educational, and economic backgrounds. So how is anyone supposed to have a substantive conversation with another person? How is it possible for me to disagree with any position another person takes because they might make assumptions about my background and invoke “privilege”?

Isn’t it possible that any of us can understand, at least to some degree, another person of a different background, and discuss issues that we might disagree on? I say yes, we are able to do that.

Those that use “check your privilege” are people that don’t have a coherent argument to make about  the subject. It’s a way of dismissing the other person’s argument without having to defend their own ideas. It’s also a way for people to decide that the other person is too stupid to possibly be able to understand their point of view.

There’s a possibility that I might not really understand the other person’s situation. But at that point, wouldn’t it be preferable to try to help me understand instead of just dismissing me outright? I think that how we learn from each other.

But maybe I’m wrong.

So, to try and avoid this in the future I’ve come up with an idea that we can all use before we get into any serious discussion with another person: We’ll exchange a short biographical sketch along with our resumes to make sure each person is qualified to discuss whatever the subject happens to be. If the other person in the discussion happens to have a better background, then before using a phrase like “check your privilege”, you can just dismiss them out of hand.

The same for a person with a poorer background. Just dismiss them and not even enter into any conversation. The only people we’d be obliged to have a conversation with then would be those people tht have a similar background.

I think this will work out well! I really can’t see a downside, can you?

So, from now on, I won’t be checking my privilege.


8 thoughts on “I Won’t be Checking my Privilege

  1. The concept of privilege is intended as a tool for use in group dynamics, where it’s use has some legitimacy. Sadly, it had been usurped and twisted into a muzzle for stifling input from those in the “privileged” demographic. This is especially troubling to me in the gender politics arena. The population of the world is roughly half men. To exclude their voices from all issues of gender dynamics is at best ineffective and at worst suppressive. Some gendered issues are indeed a “zero sum” interaction. To exclude half of those affected by these issues from the conversation is to my mind counterproductive.


    • It’s not just gender related anymore either. As I wrote, it has to do with race, ethnicity, and socio-economic background. So, if you’re a white, middle-class, college educated man, some believe that there is no way you could possibly understand the struggles of a black, poor, high school educated man. I call BS on that.


  2. Whenever I hear “check your privilege”, I’m reminded of the line from the play, Scapino:

    “Scapino — put your pride to one side!” So Scapino adjusts his manhood in his trousers.


      • Indeed. Compared to most of the world population, we benefit from quite a lot advantages. But so do western feminist bloggers whining about how hard it is to be them. Don’t get me wrong, I think secular movements should be open to debate all sorts of views, including feminism. But this has stopped being about debate long time ago. For gender feminists, their doctrine is nothing but a vehicle to push others into defense and have their way with them. That’s why it’s actually pointless to debate the validity of their concepts, eg. privilege. They don’t care whether their views are an inconsistent mish mash in the first place. To deal with them, it doesn’t help to know how to deconstruct an argument but to know how to deal with manipulators.


  3. Pingback: Privilege and the Skeptic Community | skepolitical

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