You Guessed It, I’m a Privileged White Girl

In case you missed it, yesterday, Jezebel reposted my Role/Reboot piece on the “12 Year Old Sluts” Facebook page. This is my third time on the mothership roller coaster, and I learn a little more about temporary mega exposure each time. It’s a pretty cool feeling, not going to lie, to get a bunch of messages from your friends and acquaintances pretending, for a moment, that you’re internet famous. Also, blog traffic, whatttupppp.

And then you start reading the comments, and the helium drains just a little from the pride balloon. 

I’m not new to internet commenters. It’s a different thing, however, to get spammy, illiterate hate mail from Men’s Rights Activists who think you’re a cunt just for daring to address issues of gender and sex in public than to see your article picked apart by the very audience with whom you’re most excited to share it.

For the record, there are many positive comments and they all made me feel warm and fuzzy. The ones that stick, though, are the accusations of elitism. This is my favorite:

All classics – keep ’em coming Jezzie:

“Ten years ago, when I was 14, I went to Sweden with my soccer team.”

“Many women-especially those of us with a top-notch education, strong role models, and a stellar support group”

“Though “sexual capital” isn’t a phrase she will run across until her gender studies classes 10 years later,”

Oops, you caught me, I’m a privileged white girl. I mean, duh, I have time to blog on the regular and refresh Jezebel every ten seconds to check the new readership, of course I’m  privileged. Women with three jobs don’t have time for this shit. Single moms don’t have time for this shit.

I guess I’m not clear on what my privilege has to do with this particular article. If I’d left out the location of my soccer trip, or even the fact that I played at all, if I’d left out references to my education, would the message be different? Would the content be more palatable?

I called out my education because I credit it (and the people I met during it) with giving me the tools and theories that form the core of my feminism and my points of view on media, gender, and sexuality. Just because I worked hard while I was there doesn’t mean that I wasn’t extremely lucky to be able to go. I’d be an idiot to think otherwise. The fact that I was born to parents with advanced degrees, in a town with great public schools, with access to club soccer doesn’t invalidate the content of my argument.

Some people are born with a very lucky hand of cards, and while I’m not religious, I try to be grateful every day for the opportunities the location and circumstances of my birth have allowed. Are people with privilege not allowed to comment on the world? Should we stick to being grateful and guilty? Not sure what I’m supposed to do here, guys, so help me out.

Thinking about the context of what we read, the how/when/by whom it was written, is the basics of critical thinking (one of those fun things I learned in college), so I’m glad that folks are applying that to my writing, I guess. Kinda stings nonetheless.

Related Post: Maslow and Feminist Privilege

Related Post: Caitlin Moran is my hero

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16 Comments

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16 responses to “You Guessed It, I’m a Privileged White Girl

  1. I think your article was passionate and well-written and that having a ‘privileged’ upbringing does not discount your opinion. I look forward to reading more from you in the future!

  2. For what it’s worth, I read the piece in Jezebel, loved its attitude and passion, and liked your blog so I could see what else you’re up to. You’re right that while we should try to be aware of our privilege, we shouldn’t have to shut up because of it. I’m kind of fascinated by the ‘white girl’ put-down. I use that shorthand to myself and sometimes about myself all the time, but the reason why it works smacks of sexism to me. Keep on keepin on!

  3. Nikki

    What an articulate and cool response. Thank you for your thoughts.

  4. Hi, I read your article on Jezebel then followed you here and … great come back!
    I ‘liked’ your piece so that my 12 year old daughter would hopefully read it via Facebook. Keep speaking out, keep naming sexism, keep up the good work.

  5. You acknowledged your privilege, so your work is done. You’re not pretending that your experience is either the universal or should be the universal experience. At no point did I think “Her white privilege is ruining her article!” and I’m a scholar of both gender and race in American history, so I think I would have noticed. I love Jezebel, but it has its fair share (or more) of trolls on every article. I’m following your blog now too, and I’m looking forward to more good stuff!

  6. I think that only time I get upset with privileged writers (or political candidates, etc.) is when they have grown up privileged but pretend to be “just like you!”

    You’re not pretending to have had a hard knox childhood, or that you grew up on the streets in the ghetto. You are being very open about your background, and as you’ve mentioned here, thankful for the advantages its given you. There is a huge difference.

  7. Hmm… I hate that sort of criticism, too. It’s just the sort of nitpicking that made me eschew pursuing my masters degree in comp lit. An everyone’s got to toe the party line kind of mentality. I guess they wanted you to apologize for your perspective? What? Personally, I didn’t think you sounded all that privileged, but I live in NY and am surrounded by materialistic narcissists, so anything less is just cute from my POV. Perhaps you’re “privileged” because you have time to write a blog, but people who have time to write nasty comments are something else entirely– complete losers in my opinion. I’ve only gotten one really nasty comment on my tiny blog so far (and one truly hilariously nasty comment– so it doesn’t count– from a Christian dude in China, who was commenting on the fact that I was “giving away the goods for free” to my live-in boyfriend). The nasty comment bothered me for MONTHS. I even took my blog down briefly, so I understand why this is bothering you, but you’re a great, passionate writer. Don’t let the haters get you down. Some people live to troll. You wrote with a great deal of feeling, and that stirs up feeling, and some people are idiots, so…voila, mix and mess! I feel like I should write something better than this, but I honestly can’t recall anything objectionable about your post on Jezebel, except for what you were decrying, so I’m kind of at a loss.

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