Privileged: intersectionality, focus and winning

March 2, 2017

privilegedSome people aren’t going to like this because it’s not simple. Sometimes, nuances in this kind of discussion are hard to see, especially when most readers gloss over them. In fact, I once lost someone I thought was a friend because they didn’t get my political nuances. Of course, I thought they got my heart, but apparently that wasn’t true. Oh well. Her loss.

But I digress.

I get a little tired of discussions of privilege I see, especially in some of the women’s online political groups I belong to. There’s talk of feminism, intersectional feminism, accusations that white women are only interested in white feminism (who even know there was such a thing).

Silly distinctions defocus us.

Maybe that happens, but I’m not sure it’s very common. But here’s what I think: these kinds of silly distinctions and distractions are why we have this horrible man sitting in the White House.

In my opinion a feminist is a feminist. I am a feminist. I am a proponent of equal rights for women of all hues, all nationalities, all sexual orientations, all socio-economic strata. I am a feminist.

Intersectional feminism has been the subject of huge debate in some of the online women’s groups.  What that means is feminism that recognizes that some may have more layered oppressions as well: homophobia, racism, classism, etc. My response to that is “Yes, that’s always been true and for me being against all those awful isms is embedded in my feminism.” I mean, SERIOUSLY?

Focus wins elections.

Look chicas, if we waste our time nitpicking the kind of feminists we are, that horrible man is going to take away ALL our rights, one by one. The Right has always been far better organized around a single issue and more strategic, while the Left lost this election because we can’t seem to get together. Everyone wants their own little niche to be a focus. Which is all well and good, if we’re willing to let the basket of deplorables continue to run this country.

Bottom line, babies. Bottom line.

And one more thing. There seems to be a great need to call people out for their privilege.

As a white woman born into an upper middle class family, I was born into a certain amount of privilege. But I won’t apologize for it. My privilege is part of who I am and I can’t change it and I won’t hang my head about it just to be politically correct. Instead, I use my privilege as much as I can to help others and I know many, many others in my situation who do the same.

Privilege is not a sound-bite issue.

Some of us have a more nuanced view of our privilege because our parents were first generation Americans born of illiterate parents who came to the U.S. seeking a better life. Was my father privileged because he was a doctor? When English was his second language and his parents couldn’t read or write?

It’s very hard for me to know the struggles my grandparents and my self-made parents went through and to see myself as privileged in every respect. I’m definitely privileged as a white person but they were not. They were, in fact, discriminated against as “dirty Italians” in the first half of the 20th century. So maybe there’s “intersectional privilege.” Read that with tongue planted firmly in cheek. It’s silly, this kind of distinction. It’s a losing political mentality.

My deep belief is that nitpicking at people who have good hearts and who want to make sure the real American Way stays in place and that progressive values run the country means that we’ll never get back in power. Because we’re too busy fighting ourselves to effectively fight the enemy. The danger to all we believe it.

So that’s it. That’s what I think. That’s what bothers me today about the situation we find ourselves in today and our lack of political strategy on the left.

We need to unite.

Let’s get it together, unite and fight the common enemy. Because if we don’t?

I don’t even want to think about the consequences. They’re too dire.





39 comments on “Privileged: intersectionality, focus and winning
  1. robin masshole mommy says:

    I agree – I think if we work as one voice, it will help. A LOT. I am mortified by what is going on in our country right now.

  2. I could never, and still can’t, understand why human beings can’t agree that everyone matters, that we all have value and deserve equal rights. Whether or not you believe in Gd you have to figure we got here on earth for some reason, and it’s not for power, greed, intolerance, violence or any other ludicrous reason.

    We are here to live a rich, full life. What’s the friggin’ problem with everyone? Let there be peace. I wish.

  3. I try not to get too politically involved online, but I really believe that so many need to speak up and make their voice heard. We all deserve equality and we all deserve a chance to succeed in life.

  4. At this moment in time, all women need to adhere together to resist the Trump Regime!

  5. pia says:

    You got me with “nuance,” something that too few people understand.
    We’ve become a nation of lazy thinkers.

    I have been having the “privilege” conversation since I was in grad school over 20 years ago. We were supposed to sign something affirming that the only oppressed people in America are all Blacks and Native Americans. I refused. is the white mentally challenged male who needs somebody to push his wheelchair and has neither family nor resources privileged in any way? It was the most extreme example I could think of. I was laughed at–but it did get people thinking.

    I don’t know how many people assumed that my father’s college education was paid for by some cabal of Jews. No, he had both a basketball and math scholarship but as it was the depression had to give up the scholarships to support his parents. He went to night school and it took him eight years. Is that privilege or valuing education and the prospects of future rewards?

    I, his daughter, can never deny my privilege. Though I have a disability I have certain realistic expectations that have generally come true–I was never good at marriage. I like living well and I do. I also work and worked damn hard either because that’s native to me or ingrained or both.

    There’s so much to this subject Carol. It’s one we should discuss much more

  6. Rena says:

    I just don’t understand why more people can’t see this. It’s like the country is wearing some sort of blinders when it comes to the horrible man. Every single life matters know matter what race they are, what sex they are, who they sleep with, or where they come from. If we don’t come together we’re going to fall apart which is already happening.

  7. penpen says:

    I’m not sure the problem is privilege so much as those of us who are so-called “privileged”–are educated, have jobs, sleep in a safe place–were talking to ourselves during the campaign. If something good has come out of this election–and a silver lining is mighty hard to find–it’s that there is much more unity in the center and left. Resistance is now the battle cry. Show Up. Speak Out. There’s so much we agree on–whether it’s the de-funding of the EPA or the fear-mongering about Muslims. Nothing like outrage to get us together and to reach out and start talking to others.

  8. It is great that you are not apologizing for it! Why should you?

    GREAT post!

  9. Amber Myers says:

    I so agree! We do need to unite. There is so much ugliness online and I’m getting a tad tired of it.

  10. Bernadette Callahan says:

    It seems like as much as social media and access to the internet brings us together, it divides us. There seems to be something to disagree about everyday, and it is usually either some simple and not worth it or something totally out of our hands but it is still disagreed upon.

  11. Colleen Wool says:

    I dont get into politics. Everyone has an opinion.

  12. Barbara says:

    If you didn’t know my background many would believe I am privileged. I’m pretty sure they will look at that differently when my memoir is finished. I grew up poor white trash, pretty much. Not all my family was trash but, my mother was and drew that type of men to her regularly. I always believed there was a better life and I was certain I could make it happen. I found a good guy who looked beyond my circumstances as did his family. It changed my life. I was eighteen. After marriage and having 2 sons by the time I was twenty-two my primary goal in life was to create a nurturing environment for me and my family.
    My husband (still for 48 years) had a great career with a major retail company. We moved like army brats almost annually. I found a way to reinvent myself with every move. So many different ‘careers’ became my college education.
    All this said privilege was never a part of my life but, for a lot of years, there were many who believed we were.
    Didn’t mean to ramble, Carol, but I am sick of people assuming privilege when they have no clue what others have endured to get where they are in life.

  13. Helene says:

    Our strength will be in our numbers and our voice, so yes, we must be a united force.

  14. Elizabeth O. says:

    Privilege is a wide subject and the discussion about it will certainly never end. I think it’s important to just focus on what we can as a group of people that’s united in views.

  15. We have to focus and not over analyse. We’re all in this together and can’t let that horrible lying creep take away all that’s good in America.

  16. amanda H says:

    I’m a huge believer that less government is better. That we should stop making more rules, and start fighting for our freedom to life, liberty, and property/happiness. This is the time to unite and fight for our country.

  17. The only way we’re going to defeat this truly deplorable administration is to stand together, respect each other and work together to get rid of this common enemy. Divided we fall.

  18. Privilege is something that one need not be apologetic about.One cannot control the circumstances in which one is born. But what is important is that one recognizes the value and is also aware and sensitive to the less privileged,

  19. Natalie says:

    I really enjoyed reading your perspective on this. I am a feminist and am proud to say so!

  20. Cristina Leau says:

    Together we are stronger! Wonderful article. It’s nice to hear someone speaking so frankly.

  21. I don’t live in the US. However, I feel that your advocacy is universal. We need to respect and help each other. There are women who don’t stand up for other women. I understand them because maybe they are afraid but we need to make a change even bit by bit.

  22. Diane says:

    I totally agree, Carol! When you lose focus, you accomplish little. Keep sharp, my sisters. Keep focused!

  23. eazynazy says:

    Yes we all deserve equality and success in life

  24. I enjoyed your article. The most important thing is for everyone to work together.

  25. Leah says:

    I live in Australia and seeing what America has been going through has been unbelievable. I never though in a million years Trump would get in, but the other option wasn’t that great either was it?!

  26. Kelly Reci says:

    I agree! What a wonderful post.

  27. Samantha says:

    A much needed reminder during this time.

  28. I was going to opt out of commenting on this one but, to heck with it. I appreciate the essence of this post which I will encapsulate as “unity.” I am also appreciative that you and those in similar circumstances as you, see, accept and embrace, and work from your “privilege.”

    As a black woman, an immigrant to Canada – citizen for over 10 years now, I must say that not all feminists are equal. I have had and still have the experience of “feminists” wishing and telling me that the colour of my skin ought not to be an issue in my feminism. It took me years to heal from that “abuse.” See, my colour was part and is still part of the non-privilege that I experienced and still experience. I am not colour blind and when people tell me that they are, especially feminist, that is insulting as it denies a part of who I am and the experiences that helped to form me.

    Should that stop me from speaking truth to power? Absolutely not – and it never has. I speak out for ALL women. But for some reason, pardon me, there are white women who are very uncomfortable with my blackness on the “feminist” battle line, so to speak.

    It is a reality that will not change unless we face it, embrace it and change it among us women who are seeking basically the same things – the right to be.

    Great post as always.

    • I really appreciate your point of view. I think it’s hard for many who do not walk in the shoes of others to relate. I am horrified that you know feminists who do not see the color is an issue… I am dying to have a conversation with someone of color about the meaning of “colorblind” to people of color. I’d like to understand that hot button better. Maybe I’ll email you on the side next month once my business is launched. Because I’m dying to talk about all of this with someone who has a position. Thanks again.

  29. Anna nuttall says:

    There seem to be a big division between people. We all need to unit and become as one. A nice post and i agreed with your view. xx

  30. Hannah says:

    Very much agree!

  31. Cameron says:

    I usually stay out of political posts, but finally someone else said it! The more we sit around arguing with one another about things that ultimately don’t matter, the more we’re going to be distracted from the bigger picture! Bad things are happening and will continue to happen the more we argue with one another about stupid details. Sure, I might not agree with everyone’s opinions, but that’s why they are opinions. Can we agree to disagree already? We need to be working together to make the world better – not arguing over our differences.

    We should be joining together to fight for other women, ALL women. Just because you don’t see oppression and inequality doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Just because you don’t agree with someone doesn’t mean you shouldn’t fight for their rights. I fight because I am thankfully privileged, because I see what it can be for everyone else. Just because I’m happy doesn’t mean I can’t help someone else get there too.Great post!

  32. Shannon says:

    definitely agree that we all must unite as one! Departing ourselves from one another will only lead to downfall. Time to shape up as a community

  33. Wildish Jess says:

    I can’t even get started on this topic. Sadly we will never be able to unite because there are too many narrow minds in the world.

  34. michelle says:

    I choose not to engage in online political conversation. But I do applaud you for stating your opinion.

  35. Shaheen Khan says:

    You do not need to be apologetic about being privileged. I can understand why the debate on privilege stems out at this point, but I also feel it should be sidelined so that Americans can put their heads together to actually focus as a united front on the most important aspect right now. The rest of the world now seriously doubts the collective intelligence of a country that has such high ideals.

  36. Sauumye says:

    I agree!! Unity is the most important aspect. You have written it wonderfully.

  37. I’m in the UK and I don’t understand what’s going on there.. so many unexpected things happening in the last year!

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