Wednesday, December 20, 2017

An observation...

It seems to me (right now, anyway) that holders of group privilege (e.g., white privilege, male privilege, human privilege etc.) are mostly oblivious to that privilege (in part because society conditions us/them to be so and in part because it was bestowed on us/them, we/they did nothing to earn/deserve it) but those who are harmed/impacted by that privilege are often (however they're also conditioned to be oblivious to privilege and to assign harms from that privilege to their own shortcomings, etc., but it often doesn't "take" as well because of lived life experiences) acutely aware of being harmed/impacted.

And...just to add complication on top of complication, we can occupy both privileged and marginalized identities simultaneously. E.g., white and female, etc., black and male, etc...complexity is the rule, not the exception. 

Jeez.

Feeding into this insidious/effective social conditioning is the common situation that it is generally easier to discern whenever we are hurting than it is to discern that we are hurting others...especially if we've been conditioned to disregard the voices (this disregard is manifested by believing such stuff as: "women are too emotional", someone is "too sensitive", etc.) of those belonging to less privileged groups.

We have receptors for pain built into our physical bodies, but as far as I know, we don't have any receptors that signal when we're inflicting pain on others.

Empathy can serve that function for us but it doesn't tend to have the same immediacy and salience as do our sensations of pain. We have to work at attending to our empathy, our pain smacks us up beside the head.


Racism and sexism (and other structural oppressions) haven't persisted for centuries simply because there are lots of human a**holes (although such folks certainly contribute to it and we all are a**holes from time to time)...there are a number of social conditioning processes (which are difficult to discern and are also extremely effective) that uphold the "isms" of oppression.

These conditionings encourage/ensure the participation of "good people" in oppressive structures...as well as their socially encouraged obliviousness to that participation.

Jeez...

This means that since I occupy several identities that bestow privilege on me (human, white, male, etc) my task is to constantly struggle to recognize the harm that my privilege(s) entail and work to counter it. And...I fail at this, constantly...jeez.



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