Your indignation over others' privilege isn't helping anyone
not least yourself
I want to preface this post by noting that I wrote an entire PhD thesis critiquing the many, many systems, choices and benefits for being made available only to certain privileged groups. My PhD thesis was basically just a big petulant trant about how “privileged” this and this and that are - so I understand, very well, this premise and position. And yet… a few years on, I no longer believe that this is a helpful position to take or assert. This post is a revised perspective.
I’ve recently been coming across reviews and responses to elements in contemporary culture (books, music, social media accounts, workshops, online courses, film etc) which consistently give low ratings based on the primary critique that “this was written / created / uttered by someone privileged, for a privileged audience.”
So, a book written by a white woman is critcised for white privilege and for not addressing the concerns and constraints experienced by women of colour.
A book written by someone with greater financial wealth is criticised for being class-privileged and not taking into consideration that readers with fewer financial privileges or cultural / class capital won’t be able to access the experiences or advice shared in the book.
And look, I'm not a total blockhead. I'm not saying we shouldn't strive to have some awareness or sensitivity to the huge diversity of experiences and privileges (or lack of) in the world; or that we need to mindlessly mouth off overtly discriminatory, exclusionary, prejudiced missives at certain communities.
BUT, also, as readers, I think we need to exercise more discernment and intelligence in realising that not every creator is setting out to address, solve or heal everyone or every community's experiences and challenges across time, space or cultures. And they shouldn’t be obliged to.
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