On Privilege

I did this quiz recently, to find out how privileged I am considered.  The quiz covers a range of topics, from mental health to gender to race.  I scored 37/ 100- underprivileged.  Probably this calculation was based on my being non-white, lesbian, experiencing a mental health problem and being female.  And having skipped meals at times (during studenthood) in order to pay rent.  All of which, I agree, make me non-privileged in comparison to the average white, middle class, cis, heterosexual male in a high-paid role.  I am less privileged in comparison to somebody who has never experienced racial discrimination, never been called a dyke in the street, never feared for my sexual safety purely on the basis of his (or her) gender.  I will never know what it is like not to have experienced poor mental health.

And yet.

I feel privileged, and I feel it would be wrong of me to underplay the privileges I do have.  For example, I am cis.  I will never know what it is like to feel born into a body that is read as the “wrong” gender for me.  I will never experience transphobia.

I do not have a physical disability, nor a visible one.

I live in a country in which being gay is not illegal.

I rarely experience discrimination because of my race (though I understand I might not always know I have experienced it!)

And, most importantly, I was born in Europe.  By virtue merely of where I was born, I experience a privilege that many (most) people do not.  I speak English as a native language, for example.  Without a non-English accent.  This in itself opens opportunities to me that may not be open to speakers of other languages, something it would be ignorant of me not to admit.  I was born in a wealthy country, with free healthcare and schooling.  I was born into a democracy.  I have a “white-sounding” name, which does not inhibit my CV from being taken seriously (see studies in the USA regarding CVs handed in by white Americans as compared to African-Americans.

In so many ways, I am a privileged person, something I am grateful for.  Something I must never take for granted.

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10 thoughts on “On Privilege

  1. I took this quiz, and I, too, was surprised to get underprivileged! (I took it just now). I think it’s because of mental health reasons – plus, the same with you, being poor in uni and stuff – where some things added up. But, I was really surprised. A little bit worried … because I’m straight, white, cis, and from Australia … I feel pretty privileged! Thank you for sharing this 🙂 Was really interesting.

    • Thank you! Hmm that is interesting… weird how the quiz is calculated, I think. And worrying, I agree, as it gives a strange impression of what privilege is, or isn’t! !

  2. I did the test too and, surprise suprise.., I got a scoring similar to yours. I feel like it is quite an unfair test though. I understand that the factors measured are commonly regarded as determinants of SES, but who are the creators of that test to determine what is important in MY Life. I consider myself very privileged and none of the quiz statements have never been determinants within my own perception. I simply regard my life as so much more than those circumstances.

  3. This is very thought provoking and it’s great that you define your own privilidges. We are lucky living in the UK I’d say. Ps. You’re Becky Bee, I’m Queen Bee lol 😆

  4. I’m not privileged and I’m an old white guy lol. I think most of it was because I’m gay. I scored 26/100. I hate to say that I agree with the results. While I do enjoy some privileges in my life, overall I feel like I’m not. Guess I need to do some gratitude lists.

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