Hi everyone. The Wom*n’s Collective has been working on a mix of things this week, actively organizing events and a little self-education about privilege. Since this is a topic that is relevant to the majority of people lucky enough to attend university we thought we’d share our modicum of learning with all Honi readers.
(If you would like to learn more about this then we are also very excited to let you know that will be starting a reading group in the next few weeks. Keep you posted!)
So what is privilege? In the broad definition, social privileges are abilities you’re afforded, solely based on external factors. Such as where you were born, how you look, where you live, what kind of education you have received, what you believe in, who you are attracted to, or what body you find yourself in, etc. These societal privileges are important and necessary to acknowledge and comprehend because where there is privilege, there is always disadvantage and oppression. In fact, when we neglect to question our own experiences and just accept the way society functions, we become complacent in all forms of oppression, even our own. You can moderate the degree of oppression in discrete situations by being aware of your own privilege and actively trying to counter it.
Well how do you do that? Well, firstly you have to recognize that societial discourses and narratives, institutions and bureaucracies often reinforce privilege (and oppression) as their power is implicitly based on a dichotomy of haves and have-nots. The problem is everywhere, but change can start anywhere (ie. You.) So here are some tips on how to negotiate your privilege in a space where oppression occurs:
Understand that your image of success is not the same as other peoples’.
Understand that while we work together as students, there’s no universal experience of identity that unites us all.
Be respectful and engage thoughtfully and compassionately.
If you aren’t sure about cultural experience or gender identity, ask generally not personally. Don’t forget about the internet!
Educate yourself about the oppression of others for your own sake.
Never expect or accept gratitude from minorities or oppressed groups for self-educating.
Georgia Cranko, Julia Readett and Phoebe Moloney