Of Course, That’s How it Works   Leave a comment

So I was reading an article about women in Christian ministry, and the author was talking about criticism of the practice. One line really stuck with me. He said something to the effect that even some women criticized women ministers for being in the ministry.

And my thought was, of course women criticize women ministers. That’s how marginalization works.

I happen to be a privileged person. In that, I am lucky. The odds of being as privileged as I am (citizen of the wealthiest nation in the world, male, straight, white, not poor, nuero-typical, and in good health) are actually pretty low. So the only why it is even possible for privileged people to stay privileged is to get marginalized groups to police themselves. Women criticize women who want an equal role in ministry, gay people are told that their very existence should be a cause of shame, racial minorities are bombarded with unflattering portrayals of racial minorities on television.

Privileged people aren’t privileged because they’re better or even more numerous than unprivileged people, they’re privileged because society is set up to serve their interests and ignore the interests of others. That only works so long as marginalized people accept being ignored.

Unfortunately, realizing that marginalized people have more power than they’re normally given credit for isn’t a magic bullet. Privilege doesn’t just happen. It is enforced. Violently. Economic violence (read, poverty), physical violence (read, bullying), and psychological violence (read, television and many other things) are all used to keep marginalized people marginalized. So I’m not saying that everyone should stand up immediately and stop putting up with privilege. Many people don’t have enough privilege even to do that. I’m saying that we should all understand how privilege works (so not express surprise that some marginalized people advocate against their own interest), and do whatever our own unique situation will allow us to do.

That’s all anyone should ever ask of anyone else. I don’t want any more.


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