Why I am privileged, and why I am thankful

I saw this about privilege video online, and it was an eye-opener:

Wondering what privilege is? This video has some answers for you.

After that, I did an online quiz (not related to the video) to find out whether I was privileged. It came back with the result of 37 point out of 100, and the answer that I am not privileged.

I disagree.

Some of my friends commented on the post and did the quiz, and a bickering argument ensued about being privileged.

So what is privilege?

To me, privilege is:

  • Never having had to fight in, or live in, a war.
  • Never having had to beg.
  • Never having lived below the poverty line.
  • Never having starved, or struggled for enough food.
  • Never worried about the safety of my water supply.
  • Never having felt my life was seriously threatened.
  • Never having been homeless.
  • Never having been without access to full, high quality healthcare.
  • Having always had access to free, full vaccination – for my children and myself.
  • Having had access to affordable, high quality education.
  • Having always had warm clothing and a warm, safe place to live.

Survival privileges versus social privileges

There has been a lot of emphasis lately on privilege in the media, in particular to do with the recent changes to marriage equality laws in the United States. It’s great to see positive changes happening around the world. New Zealand managed marriage equality in 2013 while Australia (my country of birth) has yet to achieve this milestone.

We'll keep pushing for marriage equality in Australia...and it WILL happen!
We’ll keep pushing for marriage equality in Australia…and it WILL happen!

I’m proud to say that New Zealand was also the first country to give women the right to vote, back in 1893.

But while these changes make a massive difference to quality of life and happiness, I’d argue they’re not as important as having, say, access to health care. They’re not changes that might affect your ability to survive, although they are definitely changes that affect happiness and, in some cases, depression and similar.

This is why, while I’m a woman who didn’t qualify as “privileged” in the quiz above (mainly because I’m not straight, I’m not Christian, I’ve experienced racism, and I’ve dealt with some mental issues that were raised), I’d argue that I’m still very privileged.

Privilege…and fairness

I believe that being a privileged person gives me the responsibility to help make this world a fairer place. I’ve benefitted in so many ways from the privileges I’ve enjoyed, and it’s only fair that I support measures to bring those privileges to everyone else.

If I don’t do that, I’m being a bit of an ass, don’t you think?

People – and societies – grow stronger by sharing strength. When you take a look at the economics of the countries that aren’t doing so well, it’s clear that they’re gutting the middle and working classes, with all benefits filtering up to the rich.

But without people spending money, economies stall and fail. And who do you think spends money in economies? That’s right – the millions of middle and working class citizens. Because there aren’t enough rich people to keep any economy going.

Fairness makes sense. Supporting the wellbeing of others makes sense. Not just ideologically but economically. When people are healthy and whole, they’re happier, more stable, and things are more balanced. Everyone wins.

So am I privileged? Yes. Am I thankful? Yes.

And will I keep on fighting for equality?


1 Comment

  1. I took the quiz and got 40/100 points, which to the results means that I am not privileged at all. Like you, I disagree. Although I have had my own set of struggles, I feel amazingly privileged. We have food to eat, we have clothes to wear, and we have a roof over our heads. We have so much more than families struggling all over the world. My husband has been to war, and it is his continuation with the military that provides us with (limited) healthcare but at least some of our coverage is paid for.


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