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Old 04-25-2013, 05:11 PM
CherryBlossomGirl CherryBlossomGirl is offline
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Angry The Concept of Privilege - A Rant.

I have noticed the bandying about of the term 'couple privilege' as of late, and definitely have some thoughts and opinions on that term (when the fuck DON'T I have opinions and thoughts?)

So....I love it when people in developed countries talk about the privileges of their peers. Poly problems are utterly and completely first world problems; it's not that they don't have weight, but when you compare it to, say, the realities of living somewhere like Tunisia, it starts putting things in perspective.

Every single person I know, including myself, is sickeningly privileged; I was born in a country with clean drinking water, no bombs reigning down upon my head, the ability to educate oneself, access libraries, social programs, own property (especially as a woman), vote, and the sheer miracle of being able to drive (a car that I own and bought with my own money that I earned at my own job) down to the local grocery store and fill my cart up with whatever I so desire or go to a place where free food awaits me if I am desperate.

We are so insanely blessed that we get to explore the nuances of being human in our lives. The minutae of emotional experience that unlocks the tiniest microcosms of emotion. We are so privileged that we get to work on our jealousy around multiple partners! Not on dealing with a waterborne illness from drinking dirty water, dying of malaria, or being slaughtered by our fellow countrymen over our religious beliefs, but on our feelings around our partners being with other partners.

Some might argue that those are rights. But what are rights if they are not mandated privileges that people have fought for over centuries?

So when people talk about something like couple privileges, I nod and smile, and try to wrap my head around where they're coming from, but think.... seriously? My mom was on the frontlines of the Civil Rights movement, was beaten and battered and stood strong while they didn't give up their ground, and was part of a movement that changed America forever. I, and hundreds if not thousands of others have collected thousands upon thousands of signatures to submit to the UN to recognize the status and safety of homosexuals on a global level - the fact that we are so far along in our development that I could marry a woman in a place like New Zealand, or Canada, but that gay men are being murdered on a daily basis in Brazil shows a definite privilege imbalance.

To me, it's an incredible blessing and luxury that I not only get to be in a consensual, chosen relationship with a man whom I could press charges against if he abused me, I get to have OTHER people in my life on an intimate level as well! I can not only have a lesbian relationship and not be killed for it; hell, I can even call a florist and dictate a love note to my girlfriend and not have anyone involved bat an eye! And now I get to figure out how to be the best possible person within that complex and interesting lifestyle structure.

So when I hear things like 'couple privilege' I have to wonder; are we so privileged that we have we lost all perspective? Am I privileged because I have a husband? Or am I privileged because I have a husband who treats me as an equal? Or am I privileged because hotel rooms have a general maximum occupancy of two, and our girlfriend lacks privilege because she has to sneak in, or pay an extra occupant fee on the room? Where does my privilege begin, and end, exactly? And if privilege is something that I was born having, how can a relationship that I have invested seven years of my life building with another human being even be classified as a privilege - I created and earned that partnership, I wasn't born married to this man (although in some countries, you can be promised to someone upon birth). Couple privilege, hey? I think it's worth talking about.

Last edited by CherryBlossomGirl; 04-25-2013 at 05:21 PM.
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Old 04-25-2013, 06:01 PM
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nycindie nycindie is offline
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I always have a hard time understanding it whenever someone invokes the word privilege in an accusatory tone. When I was growing up in NJ, I remember sitting in my mother's car and reading the back of the inspection sticker that was on the windshield. It said: "Driving is not a right. It is a privilege." I always took that to mean "something you earn." You have to pass the test and be knowledgeable about road signs, symbols, traffic laws, and then you are given the privilege of driving. If you fuck up, the privilege is taken away.

So, even though the dictionary defines privilege as a "special right, immunity, or benefit enjoyed only by a person beyond the advantages of most" (as in the privileges of the wealthy), and a "special right, immunity, or exemption granted to persons in authority or office to free them from certain obligations or liabilities," (such as when UN diplomats can park their cars anywhere they like in NYC without getting ticketed), it also defines privilege as "a grant to an individual, corporation, etc., of a special right or immunity, under certain conditions."

What would those certain conditions be? To have the privilege of driving, the conditions are learning how to drive and proving your ability by passing a test, and then staying within the law to keep that privilege. It isn't just something given willy-nilly because you want to drive.

I once was called a "privileged white woman" by a black woman who wanted her table to herself in a crowded Starbuck's. She got mad at me when I sat in the chair across from her and did not comply when she asked me to leave (no one was joining her). I couldn't believe she said that, as if I was dominating her and abusing my "power" as a white person just to sit down in an empty chair. Do I have privileges just because I appear white (even though I am of mixed-race ancestry)? Sometimes, but my being white and her being black had nothing to do with my tired bones needing to sit down at that moment. Privileged in certain ways, perhaps, but then I am disregarded and dismissed for other reasons (being older, fat, etc.). No one person can understand everyone else's viewpoint, and know what their background is.

Often in this forum, the term "hetero privilege" has come up to point out that a straight person will never know what LGBT people will go through because of their "privilege." Of course I don't know what it's like to have to live hiding one's sexual orientation and not being allowed to love whomever one loves, but I have experienced discrimination and ridicule in my life, for other reasons. I had a shitty childhood where extreme poverty and mental illness played a serious part in my development and world view - I never, ever felt privileged in the way these accusers use the word. I just think that people get angry about things, stay stuck in their anger without resolving it, and point the finger at others for no reason. "Privilege! You are privileged and therefore not worthy of asking for anything!" Hogwash.

Yes, married people have privileges. Not all married people lord those privileges over single people. Couples who have been together a long time have a rhythm and mutual understanding, but is that a privilege? I would not wish to get involved with a man who is in another relationship that he holds higher and more important than the one he has with me, as I prefer egalitarian poly, but I would call that a couple-centric attitude, not "couple privilege." I think that some people are specifically talking about veto power when they cry couple privilege. And while, yes, I would walk away as fast as my legs could take me if a guy told me his wife or gf had veto power, and I myself have used the term "Holy Dyad" to refer to couples who have these sorts of couple-centric relationships, I don't go crying about privilege. I just think it's unnecessary.

We all have various privileges and we all have various benefits and places from which we've been excluded. Everything someone does isn't wrapped up in feeling privileged just because they are a member of a particular group. I feel like the word privilege has come to be overused in the last few years. To keep crying "privilege!" is just lazy and unimaginative, I think, and basically equates to name-calling, which doesn't do anyone any good.
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Last edited by nycindie; 04-25-2013 at 06:44 PM.
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Old 04-25-2013, 06:11 PM
BoringGuy BoringGuy is offline
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So what are you saying? That there is no such thing as "couple privilege" and that it's just a concept invented in order to... give people with too much time on their hands something to intellectually masturbate about?

The way i see it, yes we are spoiled westerners, and i can't believe some of the things people come on here to bitch and complain about. I went through a lot of the same stuff but there was no internet to wail and gnash my teeth on, and people in my social circle didn't really have the time or inclination to listen to my bullshit. People come here and complain how they just figured out they are poly and Where Oh Where shall i find other poly people to date? Never mind that we are all privileged to HAVE this internet where we can search for exactly what we want and it doesn't even charge you by how far away the source of your target website is. Sorry but i can't feel sorry for what you go through.

Yes there are privileges to being a couple, especially if you are legally married. These are too numerous to list, but some of them are precisely among the reasons why i got married. I admit that, and i'm not ashamed or even a little bit self-conscious about it. Marriage is part of a subset of privileges in a privileged society. just because some people don't have lightbulbs in their homes doesn't make married people any less privileged when it comes to say, how it affects their credit score. (all other variables being equal or equivalent, etc.)

That said, i certainly don't think that just because i am married, my spouse should dump their other partner because i said so. When people on this forum speak of "couple privilege", they are usually referring to it within that sort of context, not in the grand scheme of the universe.
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Old 04-25-2013, 06:16 PM
BoringGuy BoringGuy is offline
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Nycindie, i wrote my post before yours appeared so nothing in it was in reply to something you wrote. You probably know that already but i wanted to make sure.
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Old 04-25-2013, 06:24 PM
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Natja Natja is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BoringGuy View Post

That said, i certainly don't think that just because i am married, my spouse should dump their other partner because i said so. When people on this forum speak of "couple privilege", they are usually referring to it within that sort of context, not in the grand scheme of the universe.
Exactly! And actually in the same way we speak of male privilege or heterosexual privilege. It is about being aware of your privilege and how that can affect others, rather than some sort of idea that everyone should be the same or feel guilty for having more.

N
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Old 04-25-2013, 06:38 PM
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AnnabelMore AnnabelMore is offline
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To me, the concept of "couple privilege" has utility in the following way. Let's say that a unicorn hunting couple says they are seeking someone with whom to have a relationship, someone who will be an equal. We see this all the time. Generally, when you begin to delve into things, however, it becomes clear that this "equality" is no such thing, and yet the couple in question is having a very hard time seeing or understanding the ways in which they are not offering, and perhaps cannot offer, equality to their new partner. They are blind to the privileges that society grants them, and that they grant each other, as "the couple" as opposed to "the third". This can apply to people in preexisting couples who are starting new separate, vee-style relationships as well.

I know some people don't like him, but I really do, his writings have been of great help to me, and I found Veaux's take on it to me the clearest yet: http://tacit.livejournal.com/578925.html

Being in a couple isn't bad in the slightest, any more than being white or male is bad. None of these things should ever be thrown back at people as weapons. And none of these things have anything to do with the immense economic and social privileges we have as members of developed countries. But in all cases, it's valuable to understand the ways in which society treats one set of people differently from other people, so that we can better and more accurately respond to the context we're living in, rather than one we imagine. If that makes any sense.
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Old 04-25-2013, 06:39 PM
CherryBlossomGirl CherryBlossomGirl is offline
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Default Ye Old Bitchfest.

BG: Basically just wanted a Good Old Fashioned Bitchfest.

<start bitchfest> Yah, sure, I suppose in some sense I am privileged within my marriage - but the insinuation that because I'm married, I lord those ?privileges? over those poor, impoverished single people who have ?no privilege? just makes me rollllmmmyyyeyeyes. <end bitchfest>

NYCindie: Can't believe that Starbucks story. Ugh!

natja: How does my ?privilege? affect others? Can you give me a real world example? Do you not believe that we have the freedom to largely define our own fate and worth in our society?
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Old 04-25-2013, 06:58 PM
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Originally Posted by BoringGuy View Post
Nycindie, i wrote my post before yours appeared so nothing in it was in reply to something you wrote. You probably know that already but i wanted to make sure.
Yes, I knew that. Thanks for clarifying, though!
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Old 04-25-2013, 07:03 PM
BoringGuy BoringGuy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BaggagePatrol View Post
BG: Basically just wanted a Good Old Fashioned Bitchfest.

<start bitchfest> Yah, sure, I suppose in some sense I am privileged within my marriage - but the insinuation that because I'm married, I lord those ?privileges? over those poor, impoverished single people who

Sorry to have to point this out, but i did not say "bitch" i said "masturbate".

So masturbate, bitch. (intellectually that is. I wish i could do the real thing too, but the battery on my ipod just told me it's 20% so i have to go find an available USB port to stick my charger into). I will be back to read all about it later. Have fun without me if you think that's possible, lol.

Last edited by BoringGuy; 04-25-2013 at 07:07 PM.
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Old 04-25-2013, 07:09 PM
BoringGuy BoringGuy is offline
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Sorry to have to point this out, but i did not say "bitch" i said "masturbate".

So masturbate, bitch. (intellectually that is. I wish i could do the real thing too, but the battery on my ipod just told me it's 20% so i have to go find an available USB port to stick my charger into). I will be back to read all about it later. Have fun without me if you think that's possible, lol.


Shit wait wait, this is not the BDsm thread? Oh well. How was it though? Did i do a good job acting dominant?
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