[By Ben Noble]
The Anti-feminists on YouTube and elsewhere have the tireless job of perpetually debunking feminist propaganda. While doing so they need to be careful that they don’t unwittingly buy into one of their premises. The one I’m going to talk about today is privilege. The feminist declares that privilege exists and that it is immoral. The anti-feminist debunks the existence privilege and largely does not address the morality of such a concept. Both groups appear to accept the premise that privilege is immoral. I am here to say that if privilege exists, it is completely moral.
The companion YouTube video for this post can be found here.
Privilege is a nebulous term and I think intentionally so. That way feminists can move the goal posts at will to gain advantage in an argument. Regardless, here are a few definitions for privilege before I get into my arguments.
Google search for “privilege”:
“A special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group. Education is a right, not a privilege.”
“We can define privilege as a set of unearned benefits given to people who fit into a specific social group.”
“Anti-oppressionists use “privilege” to describe a set of advantages (or lack of disadvantages) enjoyed by a majority group, who are usually unaware of the privilege they possess.”
“A privileged person is not necessarily prejudiced (sexist, racist, etc) as an individual, but may be part of a broader pattern of *-ism even though unaware of it.”
“Privilege is a special right or advantage available only to a particular person or group of people. The term is commonly used in the context of social inequality, particularly in regard to age, disability, ethnic or racial category, gender, sexual orientation, religion and/or social class. Two common examples would be having access to a higher education and housing. Privilege can also be emotional or psychological, regarding comfort and personal self-confidence, or having a sense of belonging or worth in society. It began as an academic concept, but has since become popular outside of academia.”
Like the definition of feminism, the definition of privilege is splintered into two pieces. There is the written down definition and the application of the idea in reality. The written definition doesn’t say anything overtly controversial, but is used as a hammer of moral reckoning with +2 triggering. The part that is left out of the written definition is that this privilege is immoral and must be stamped out using any means available, even the aggression of government.
It is important to keep in mind that these definitions do not include unequal representation or treatment under the law. If we are to have a government, then it should treat everyone it interacts with equally. There are massive problems and flaws with that system now, but there are no codified advantages given to individuals as it relates to sex, race, or what have you. That is a topic for another day. My comments are only directed to the peaceful interactions between individuals, not between the state and individuals.
As I said before, the anti-feminists do a very thorough job of debunking the claims, statistics, and narratives that feminists put out there. I think they have yet to truly rebut the ethical framework that feminists operate from as it relates to “privilege”. It has no coherent moral foundation and if we were to accept it’s existence, it does not present the societal moral dilemma they claim it does.
Top down morality
First, privilege assigns moral agency to groups of people or society at large and then holds any individual in that group responsible for the group’s “actions.” They say that “Society gives advantages to this group” and “Society disadvantages this group.” Society is not capable of action, moral or immoral. Only individuals are. It is ridiculous to look at societal trends, decide some are immoral, and then convict all the individuals in a racial, gender, or socio-economic group. In literal terms, society doesn’t exist because it is made up of individuals, but feminists don’t seem to get this. Assigning blame to all the individuals in a group based on perceived wrong doing is the very definition of stereotyping, prejudice, and bigotry.
It doesn’t stop there either. As Geek Feminism says “A privileged person is not necessarily prejudiced (sexist, racist, etc) as an individual, but may be part of a broader pattern of *-ism even though unaware of it.” This is the feminist original sin. It is bestowed on you at your birth and nothing but confessing your sins can absolve you. To be honest, that doesn’t seem to work, either. At the head of this church is the holy trinity of privilege: the white heterosexual male. I am sure most people are familiar with this most holy intersection of the privilege venn diagram.
Privilege is moral
Now that I have described how the concept of privilege is incoherent, lets get to the point of this whole exercise. Morality. Privilege rejects the principle of freedom of association and property rights because it is often accompanied by the drive for government regulations, quotas, and punishment. Feminists also use this original sin as an excuse to verbally attack dissenters, drive speakers from college campuses, and try to get people fired from their job.
All human interactions should be voluntary and you should be able to do what you will with our property. As long as you don’t directly harm anyone, no one’s feelings should have any control over your ability to act. Individuals should be able to choose who they love, who they are friends with, who they seek employment with, and what products they buy. Conversely, individuals should be able to turn down romantic advances, reject friendships, reject employee applications, and turn down customers. These are two sides of the same coin. You get to accept and reject association with other individuals for any reason. Even if those reasons are petty, repulsive, or against your self interest. The desire to force anyone into associating with people that they don’t want to is a violation of the rights of the individual and therefore, immoral.
Right off the bat, this nullifies many of the petty complaints filed under “privilege.”
If the average women is paid less for the same work as a man, it is moral. Those employers offered their female employees a job and level of income and the women agreed. No need to look any further. I mean, you can if you want to, but to force employers to take an action they otherwise would not have is immoral.
If women feel that society objectifies them, that is completely moral. No one is forcing women to dress a certain way. No one is forcing women to appear in sexual roles in the media. Women have the right to dress and act how they wish. They are also free to reject association with anyone that objectifies them directly. Individual women objectify themselves. To say otherwise is to rob women of moral agency. If a woman feels bad for not looking a certain way, then that is an internal conflict between how she wants to look and how she actually looks.
If a certain demographic isn’t represented in a industry or company, that is completely moral. Even if there was a concerted effort to lessen diversity, that is completely permissible. If BET wants to only have black people on their network, then that is up to them. If the women’s section of Huffington Post wants be made up of exclusively white middle class women, that is their right and their choice. If the NBA chooses to have a majority of black players, then so be it. If you complain about industries or companies being too white or male, then you must as a matter of principle speak out against all instances of disproportionate demographic make up.
I think you get the point by now. There are too many “privileges” to address in one post, but you can use the simple logic and principles I laid out here on any issue you can think of. Just ask yourself: Is this a case of people exercising their right to freedom of association? Are they exercising property rights without infringing on others? If the answer is yes to both, whatever is happening is probably moral. If you don’t like it then you can use your right to freedom of association and mind your own damn business. I think we’ll all get along much better that way.
Buzzed How privileged are you? [https://www.buzzfeed.com/regajha/how-privileged-are-you?utm_term=.xme0l8a8K#.vw8jLWaWX ]
Privilege [http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Privilege ]
Privilege 101: A quick and dirty guide [http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/09/what-is-privilege ]
Privilege on Wikipedia [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Privilege_(social_inequality) ]
Here’s a bad tweet from The Huffington Post [http://gawker.com/heres-a-bad-tweet-from-the-huffington-post-1777993036 ]