Polyamory.com Forum  

Go Back   Polyamory.com Forum > Polyamory > General Poly Discussions

Notices

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #21  
Old 04-26-2013, 09:55 AM
Cleo Cleo is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Europe
Posts: 414
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
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.
This. It's about couple-centrism.. putting yourself as a couple in the center, instead of yourself as an individual. Couple-centric couples tend to act 'priviledged' though.. or maybe 'entitled' is the more correct word? like they are entitled, have the right, to certain privileges?

I'm married, but couple-centrism makes me want to run. And not just in poly situations. Mono couples can be infuriatingly couple-centric as well.
__________________
early forties, straight.
the guys: Ren - husband; Curlz - bf of 2 years, Brig - bf of 7 months; Knight - non-sexual bf; MrBrown - it's complicated
Ren's girls: Lou - gf of 2 years, Liz - very new gf
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 04-26-2013, 10:53 AM
Emm's Avatar
Emm Emm is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Australia
Posts: 717
Default

The word privilege, as it's usually used in these conversations, is rarely about the actions of the person observed to hold it but rather about how those around the person (or in this case couple) treat them.

If I were a man in my current job (military), I would have the privilege of knowing that when I walk into a meeting at least 90% of the other attendees will be of the same gender as me (I've been keeping a tally in my diary). When I need to speak to others at a similar level of authority I would have the privilege of knowing that I would be dealing with someone of my own gender. When I start a new job in a new office I would have the privilege of knowing that I will be judged by my actions rather than my appearance. If I were to become angry that my instructions to a subordinate weren't being followed and expressed my displeasure I would have the privilege of knowing that nobody would make jokes about menstrual cycles. When a new item of uniform clothing is issued I would have the privilege of knowing that it was designed to fit my body shape (seriously, I don't know what they measured when designing our old shorts, but it wasn't a human female).

None of that says that a male in my position is in any way lording it over me that he's male and I'm not or that he feels entitled to more respect than I get, but he's starting from a position of comfort that I'll never know. The fact that he has never asked to be treated any differently doesn't reduce the fact that, simply by being a male officer rather than a female officer, he is demonstrably treated differently in countless ways every day.

In the case of couple privilege, it exists whether the people in the couple use it to fuel their sense of entitlement or not. When an outsider assumes that the members of a couple will act a certain way and makes room for that to happen without friction then that's couple privilege in action. By asking people to examine their privilege nobody's saying that they should reject it out of hand or feel guilty about it, just that they should realise that not everyone has the same advantages.
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 04-26-2013, 11:25 AM
Natja's Avatar
Natja Natja is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 822
Default

Emm, that is a very powerful statement, thank you. It was precisely what I meant by unexamined privilege.

I have recently been on the receiving end of some people reacting badly against being told they have privilege, personally I think they were entirely ignorant of the term but I have seen people get defensive about it before because they take it as an accusation, rather than it just being, what upsets me would be people who deny it and get hostile.

The situation I am referring to hurt many women (myself amongst them) and denied them a safe space, I was gutted. I still get a bit emotional when I think about it.

Natja
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 04-26-2013, 12:03 PM
Emm's Avatar
Emm Emm is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Australia
Posts: 717
Default

Part of the problem may be that the word has different meaning in a casual or conversational context than it does in a sociological context.

Just as non-scientists often equate the word "theory" with a wild-assed guess rather than as an explanation based on observation, experimentation and reasoning that has been tested and confirmed as a general principle helping to explain and predict natural phenomena, "privilege" is casually understood to be a special right either gained unearned through birth or by deliberately stomping all over those less fortunate, whereas in a more academic context it can simply mean accidentally having an advantage that others accidentally lack.

If someone feels you're accusing them of deliberately putting people down in order to gain advantage for themselves when they've done no such thing it's no wonder they become defensive. Unfortunately the English language is imprecise in just enough places to allow that sort of miscommunication.
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 04-26-2013, 12:52 PM
CherryBlossomGirl CherryBlossomGirl is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 212
Default Great conversation.

Annabel: Yes, I do see patterns in relationship forums for sure; it seems like a lot of that is centred around inexperience, the loss of ideals and having people's limitations pushed way beyond comfort zone.

I have a lot of respect for the way you do poly, and totally hear what you're saying - it helps it make a lot more sense to me to have those quotes, as it provides context for a theory.

BG: Hell no, there is no attempt at justifying a lack of integrity in partners, ever. Everyone has unique experiences in poly; isn't learning/growing/becoming aware on a more and more subtle level of relationships what it's all about?

Emm: "Part of the problem may be that the word has different meaning in a casual or conversational context than it does in a sociological context.

Just as non-scientists often equate the word "theory" with a wild-assed guess rather than as an explanation based on observation, experimentation and reasoning that has been tested and confirmed as a general principle helping to explain and predict natural phenomena, "privilege" is casually understood to be a special right either gained unearned through birth or by deliberately stomping all over those less fortunate, whereas in a more academic context it can simply mean accidentally having an advantage that others accidentally lack.

If someone feels you're accusing them of deliberately putting people down in order to gain advantage for themselves when they've done no such thing it's no wonder they become defensive. Unfortunately the English language is imprecise in just enough places to allow that sort of miscommunication
."


This perfectly sums up the reason for me creating this post. Exactly what I was reaching for, but couldn't grasp - thank you!

Last edited by CherryBlossomGirl; 04-26-2013 at 12:55 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 04-26-2013, 12:57 PM
Tonberry Tonberry is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Canada
Posts: 1,374
Default

It's always difficult to come up with instances of your own privilege, as you mostly notice when you're treated badly, not when you are not, and I've been in a relationship or another for something like 10 years now. But here are a few I can think of:

- I can mention my relationship status and to this date nobody has implied that because of that relationship status, I must be unhappy, or that this status is caused by being a bad person.

- When people have met me recently and they invite me to something, what they add ("and your boyfriend/husband") actually matches my reality, so I do not have to correct them, nor do I feel like I'm somehow not good enough or different.

- People do not constantly try to introduce me to people I have never met and try to get me to date them, despite my lack of interest and my telling them I'm not interested.

- When I walk with my boyfriend, I do not get harassed, flirted with and then insulted due to refusing advances from complete strangers.

- I can adopt in many countries where I could not, were I single. I had already had a child, it would not be assumed that I am a lesser or worthless parent due to my relationship status.

- I can get tax benefits in many countries where I could not, were I single (requires a certain of time living together, and in the case of some countries, marriage).

- I can get medical benefits (varies based on country, usually requires marriage).

- I can get trust and opportunities based on being introduced as my partner's girlfriend. I can get invited to events based on being his girlfriend as he gets a +1. both of us can be invited to anything that someone organises for couples.

- I have someone to turn to when things go wrong.

- I have someone I can have sex with if I'm horny, without having to worry about danger as I already know and trust him.

- If I turn on a TV, read a book or even listen to a song, my relationship model (being in a relationship) is the most common model, I can be certain to see it everywhere. Furthermore, I do not see my current relationship status being portrayed as a phase to go past as soon as possible, or a terrible result of things going wrong.

- I have access to a fair number of deals on a variety of things that have a reduced price for couples (or sometimes for any number of people larger than just one).

- I can go to the restaurant with my boyfriend and not be stared at as the weird/poor/sad woman eating alone, even though when I did it as a single I always enjoyed myself. Instead, people who come up to me will be telling me I look happy, cute with my partner, or that I'm lucky. They will not tell me how terrible or sorry they feel for me. Same thing with going to the movies.

- If I have a bad day and get frustrated or angry, I won't have to hear people comment that it's because I'm single, or that it's the reason I'm single.

These are a few I can think of. I know there are many more, but as I said, it's hard to think when most of these are the way you would assume and want everyone to be treated.
Some of these privileges disappear when you're in a relationship with someone of your gender. Some of them disappear when you're in a relationship with more than one person (which can lead couples to try and hide additional partners in order to keep their privileges). All of them are things I have personally experienced/had to deal with or witnessed someone experience/have to deal with.

I don't feel guilty for any of these things, nor should I. But that certainly doesn't mean they don't exist. And it doesn't mean that now that I don't have to live with them all the time, everywhere, they're not a big deal anymore. It can still be hard to live with when everything around you constantly tells you that being single means specific things about yourself, that it's not "right", that it's something you should change, that you're sad or pathetic or less worthy, and so on.
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Old 04-26-2013, 01:11 PM
CherryBlossomGirl CherryBlossomGirl is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 212
Default Thank You!

Ahhh!!! That makes more sense Tonberry, thank you!

I would say though, that a lot of the below could be enjoyed with a friend (2 for 1s, going to dinner together, not getting harassed, etc.) I understand that the privilege referred to is a pretty specific context, but when a lot of those things can be experienced with a friend, a father, a co-worker, it gets muddy for me. Plus 1's are often friends for me at events, too.

But! It's a little less foggy now; seems like it's all centred around bad behavior when I've heard it applied, instead of just about the benefits of two people together.
Reply With Quote
  #28  
Old 04-26-2013, 02:53 PM
Natja's Avatar
Natja Natja is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 822
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Emm View Post
Part of the problem may be that the word has different meaning in a casual or conversational context than it does in a sociological context.............
If someone feels you're accusing them of deliberately putting people down in order to gain advantage for themselves when they've done no such thing it's no wonder they become defensive
Definitely, I have been caught by that before so in that last explosive case I made sure to go on to define the context so as to make sure they knew exactly what I meant. Alas, I was told that I was patronising her by assuming she did not know and doesn't matter because it is offensive anyway.....

I think she was lying through her teeth but never mind, it is all water under the bridge now.
Reply With Quote
  #29  
Old 04-26-2013, 03:12 PM
Tonberry Tonberry is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Canada
Posts: 1,374
Default

I think the times it's used as an accusation in poly contexts is when people act badly in order to preserve their privilege. It doesn't mean they're guilty of anything for having the privileges in the first place. But it doesn't justify acting badly.

For example, if two people were in an established couple and got used to the perk, chances are they know if they come out as poly or as part of a triad, V or other configuration, they will lose the perks they got from being "normal". They will be considered weirdos and so on. Therefore they might try to still appear as a couple, in effect hiding the relaitonship(s) with any new partner(s), since they need to "pick one" to introduce as their partner, and usually many people already know one person, and it's simpler to keep the same person for everything so you don't forget who knows who, or run into trouble if two people who know you as dating someone different run into each other and talk about you.
As a result, a third person is excluded from sharing privileges you get from being in a non-hidden relationship (which contains some advantages listed above, but also things like being able to hold hands or kiss in public, being able to talk about your partner(s), etc) and still gets treated as single (if they don't have an "official, out of the closet" partner too) even though they are not.
When their partners are invited to something, they're never the +1, because it would be weird. When they see their partners and other people are present, they have to make sure not to kiss, hold hands or use affectionate language. They might have to hide their relationship from their friends and family, too, if that's needed so the couple can stay in the closet.

All of this would happen because the couple wants to keep their privilege. They don't want to have to deal with discrimination. But they're fine with their partner having to deal with all the crap, so they can keep getting benefits they got used to. That's not okay.

Simply having the privileges is one thing, and it's neither good nor bad. In many cases, a privilege is really just a lack of being treated like crap, and it should be everyone's case rather than being restricted to some people.
Wanting the privileges is a different thing, and a very understandable one. Wanting to be treated with respect is pretty universal I would think.
But throwing someone else under the bus for the sake of keeping your privilege, and then denying that you're doing it, because you might not even realise it, that's when you're being shitty. Because you met someone second rather than first, they don't get to be introduced to your friends, family, coworker as your partner. They don't get to have dates with you in places where you could be seen. They don't get to talk about you to their family, friends and coworkers. They don't get to be invited to important events in your life. Had you met this person first, at that stage of your relationship, with the same level of commitment, they would have access to all those things. Instead, they don't.

Some people look at it, and instead of saying "this suck" and seeing what they can do to be more fair, they react by saying "Well you should be happy you get to be with me at all!" It's quite natural to want to preserve your privileges, especially when they are things everyone should be entitled to, but it's not fine to treat other people terribly because you're too afraid of losing them, and it's important for people to notice they're doing that, and that it's NOT "normal".

Treating someone you've been with for 10 years differently from someone you've just met is normal. Treating someone you've been for 2 years less well than you did your first partner after 2 days or 2 weeks or 2 months, simply because they didn't come first, and expecting them to be fine staying at a "not even as many rights as you'd have if I'd just met you and didn't have an other partner" for the rest of the relationship is not, in my opinion, fair or realistic.
Reply With Quote
  #30  
Old 04-26-2013, 03:36 PM
nycindie's Avatar
nycindie nycindie is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: The Big Apple
Posts: 7,198
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cleo View Post
This. It's about couple-centrism.. putting yourself as a couple in the center, instead of yourself as an individual. Couple-centric couples tend to act 'priviledged' though.. or maybe 'entitled' is the more correct word? like they are entitled, have the right, to certain privileges?

I'm married, but couple-centrism makes me want to run. And not just in poly situations. Mono couples can be infuriatingly couple-centric as well.
Yes! It's the sense of entitlement that is so barf-inducing.
__________________
The world opens up... when you do.

Oh, oh, can't you see? Love is the drug for me. ~Bryan Ferry
"Love is that condition in which another person's happiness is essential to your own." ~Robert Heinlein
Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
couple privilege, first world problems, gratitude, manifesto, pie-fight, privilege

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 03:57 AM.