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Monday, April 13, 2015

Y --> X as Applied to the Concept of Social Privilege

I hold a view on things that many people, particularly those most affected, find offensive.
I hold the view that "privilege" is not an appropriate label for the societal advantages that being male and being white provide for someone.

My stance on this is based on the idea that the middle-class white male should be the base starting point for everyone. Everyone should get that level of opportunity and non-bias applied to their efforts to build a solid and sustainable life for themselves.

If we apply the Y to X methodology of problem solving to this situation we see that my view is actually correct.

First off we must define the problem statement.
What is wrong?

The thing that is wrong is that not all parties get treated equally.
It has nothing to do with gender nor with race; it has entirely to do with the mere existence of bias in the system.

This is, essentially, the "first split" of the problem and it results in three groups: people who are advantaged and have success handed to them, people who are able to achieve success without dramatic hurdles impairing them, and the disadvantaged who are often unable to achieve success regardless of their own abilities and efforts.

The next split, if one were to proceed toward trying to solve this problem, is to examine the data regarding conditions that lead to the three different groupings.

Rather than outline this from the "bottom up" methodology I will skip directly to the obvious conclusion. The advantaged group and the middle group are, mostly, white males.

This creates a false appearance of privilege because the other demographics see, clearly, a correlation between skin color and gender that is then interpreted as a potential causal mechanism. It is not. If it were a causal mechanism then all white males would hold all positions of power and no one else would be able to achieve any.

So let's split off that as a current demographic cause of the privilege experienced in the higher group as compared to the middle group. What remains is inherent wealth. Wealth is something that everyone in the advantaged group possess. They possess it in abundance. They possess it in enough quantity that they can set is aside to grow more wealth at rates that are hard to spend. (We could do another split on this group to examine those who earned their wealth versus those who inherited it, but I find that to be unimportant for this line of logic).

Examining the key difference between the second and third groups outlines a vast difference in the available wealth. The second group is able to meet their basic needs while the third group is struggling on a daily basis to ensure that they are fed and housed, etc. It is nearly impossible to break through the upper wealth barrier when your needs are met, and equally difficult to break into stability from poverty.
Thus the lower two groups cannot be privileged and the bottom group is actually oppressed by their socioeconomic status. This validates my opinion that middle-class white males are NOT privileged. They are the default starting point; the rich are the privileged and the poor are the disadvantaged.

The gender bias, like the wealth bias, is not a situation of males being privileged; it is also a situation of oppression.

By putting forth the accusations of privilege toward those who are obviously also struggling the blame of the overall situation is being misdirected and in such a way as to mask those really at the heart of the issue.

There are a lot of people who benefit from not being among the oppressed who fear the erosion of their own position through the elevation of the remainder. They should worry about this. Removal of the oppressive factors against women and minorities will force the more mediocre of the white, middle-class males to compete more for their own current position. This is not the same as privilege; it's increasing their competition by removing oppressive factors against those who are the opposite of privileged.

Examining the picture in this manner in a more widespread situation would bring about as much shame on those who fight to preserve the situation, perhaps more since they are then to be seen as supporting active oppression rather than relying on their own privilege. Examining the situation in this light will highlight those who are most privileged and that, in the end, will work to their detriment. This is why they are perfectly happy to distribute the claim of privilige in such a way as to dilute their own responsibility in the eyes of the oppressed.

We need to reverse our perspective on this and start calling those who are not privileged as being oppressed instead of examining the idea of all white men as being privileged.

I see the situation for what it is; I see that many people I know have opportunities that the "American Dream" promises and many more are encountering roadblocks along their way due to their skin color or gender. I see my own struggles and I know that I am NOT privileged; I am working through life as best I can. I have seen privilege - I have seen the rich who get everything handed to them. I see those who can treat people terribly with a complete disregard to anyone else. THAT is privilege; not struggling through day-to-day life.

We need to work at this problem not from accusing people of having an unfair ADVANTAGE but, rather, accusing society of being able, and willing, to create a disadvantage for a vast portion of the population.

How can we level the disadvantages out?