Originally Posted by BaggagePatrol
I can see how as a theory, you could look at the eradication of prejudice as being reachable. I guess it all comes down to my reality/practical philosophies about What Can I Do? Changing the world is an overwhelming prospect, but not being a jerk creates ripples, giving of time and space creates change in your community, and that can travel outwards. In some ways the philosophies are similar, they are just on a different scale.
Do I think I can make a difference? Yes. Do I think that I can change the world? Maybe a small part of it, but on a global scale it's unlikely that any of us will live to see a time where there are not privileges attached to being caucasian, or coupled, or English speaking, or...... There's been lots of movement on all fronts, but I feel like that boils down to smaller communities making a different first, and I tend to start there when I think of change.
So I am super curious Annabel: What does that world look like? I'd love to hear your thoughts; you're such a thoughtful and conscientious person in general.
Aw, well, thanks! I'm by no means an expert. And I want to be very clear that I'm not trying, in any way, to say that what you do, on any front of fighting the kyriarchy
(I know this word isn't in common usage, thus the link, but it sums up the whole of what we're really trying to discuss better than anything else) and/or fighting for a better world in general, isn't enough, or that I'm doing more. In fact, I may well be doing less, I haven't done much volunteering at all lately for example (been, er, a bit busy
I recognize that one must ask one's self "what can I realistically do?" in order to stay sane, and that, therefore, keeping the thought "we must dismantle all systems of oppression post-haste or else we're failures!!!" in the forefront of one's mind is gonna be a losing proposition. Nevertheless, I think that "well, it's an impossible problem to fix" isn't the most useful attitude either, for one's self or for society at large. Rather, I would go with "we must fight these problems when and how we can, that they may one day be behind us" is a good middle ground -- firm, but also somewhat zen-like.
How to approach this on a practical level? As I said above, I think that not being a jerk is a great first step. That entails knowledge, first of all. You can't stop hurting someone until you realize that you need to look down in order to see if you're stepping on their foot, so to speak. Reading about the experiences of others, paying attention to stories that are different from one's own rather than dismissing them, and even actively seeking out responses to oppression from the oppressed are good starting points for acquiring this knowledge.
Let's talk about race, since it's such an obvious and familiar marker of oppression in our society. Once you begin to understand racism, you can work on not being a jerk, which is to say not being actively racist. Not telling racist jokes, not making racist assumptions, etc. This is actually much harder than one might think, of course, especially when it comes to the assumptions and thought patterns that we may never have thought to challenge because they were instilled in us from such a young age by the culture at large. However, it's so very, very important. This is the minimum standard for being a decent human being in a fucked up world, imho. It is the starting place, not the ending place.
What comes next, then? Being actively anti-racist. How does one do that? Again, I'm definitely not an expert, but I'd say it comes down to not just not causing problems, but working to solve them. For instance, not being racist would mean giving a person of color an equal chance of being hired, if you were in charge of hiring at your job. Being anti-racist would mean looking around and asking "Are there people of color in positions of power in this place of work? If not, why not? And how could it be changed?" Maybe it would mean re-thinking how you reach out to potential employees, and using new avenues that would be more likely to reach a more diverse audience. Maybe it would mean advertising that you are seeking to create a more diverse workforce and would therefore especially welcome applications from minorities. Maybe it would mean springing for an anti-racist training for the various recruitment staff at your organization. Yikes, that all sounds like a lot of work, and maybe even some money! But it doesn't have to be that intense. It could just mean finding a person of color who works in your field and asking if they would be willing to talk to you about the issue of race in your job market -- "Did you encounter barriers to entry? If so, what were they? Do you have any ideas for how we could do a better job of reaching out to people of color?"
Talking in a serious way about the touchy problems of oppression in our society -- race relations in particular, but also gender relations, class relations, etc. -- can in and of itself be a radical, anti-oppressive act. It can be scary to talk about these things, especially "across the aisle" as it were, and it requires a ton of humility on the part of the more-privileged actor if they're doing the initiating of the conversation. But by talking to each other, we can uncover solutions that might stay buried otherwise. Simply openly discussing these things is probably the #1 way to help begin to dismantle them.
Idk, was that all even coherent?
As for how all of this might relate to the original topic, I honestly don't know if all "couple privilege" is something that SHOULD be eradicated -- like, I'm not opposed to tax breaks for married couples, for example, nor do I think that we should abolish "+1s" from event invitations. I just think that folks in primary partnerships ought to be aware of the privileges that society grants them so that they can examine critically whether they're acting at the expense of others in order to maintain that privilege, such as with the example that I believe someone (Tonberry?) referred to above of requiring a third partner to stay in the closet to maintain a married couple's image as socially acceptable, without considering the hardships that that requirement places on the third partner.
With privilege tends to come a sense of entitlement -- and "couple entitlement" is what I might term the classic "unicorn hunter"-style face-palm-inducing actions of too many primary-partnered-folks in relation to their secondary partners. At this point it begins to morph into a different issue entirely (though arguably a related one), and a much more complicated one.