Take a minute, and without thinking about it too much, quickly list all the different ways in which you're privileged. Better yet, do it out loud.
Now, did you find this relatively easy, or were you a bit stumped after the first couple of more obvious privileges? If you're like most of us, you were a bit slower in rattling off the last items you came up with, and that's not surprising given the nature of privilege. Privilege tends to be relatively invisible to the privilege-holder, that is, we often don't even see the advantages that come with the particular type of privilege we enjoy. And we all enjoy numerous privileges we take for granted.
If you are currently reading this post, then you enjoy heaps of privilege right off the bat. You have time, and are likely not working in multiple part-time jobs (or sweatshops) in trying to make ends meet. You have some kind of device on which you're reading these very words, and are probably living somewhere without Internet censorship. Almost certainly, you have some level of post-secondary education, or are self-taught. Already, as you can see, you are hugely privileged.
Statistically, many of you are enjoying gender privilege (it's easier, by the way, for vegans to pay lip service to the idea of being nonsexist than it is to recognize how certain approaches that value linear or black and white thinking, or reason over emotion, may actually be rooted in sexism), racial privilege, and heterosexual privilege. What may not be as easy to see is that you likely also enjoy gender identity privilege, Judeo-Christian privilege, and able-bodied privilege. If you fit the norms of whatever is considered attractive and desirable in your culture or society, than that's privilege too.
So right away, we have all sorts of privilege that we may not even be that aware of: gender, gender identity, class, racial, economic, technological, religious, education, orientation, and so forth -- it's a bit staggering, isn't it? Which isn't to say that anyone is completely privileged, as we're all probably marginalized in one area or another, and as with anything, it's a matter of degree.
But the one enormous privilege that the vast majority of us (even those of us who can easily recognize all sorts of other privileges) don't see, is the privilege conferred on human animals. In fact, this privilege is rendered so invisible that those of us who do see the anthropocentrism for what it is are usually accused of anthropomorphism. In other words, our world is so human-centric that many cannot recognize other sentient beings as beings in their own right, and dismiss veganism as an attempt to attribute human emotions and characteristics as if those emotions and traits can only be human. It's as if most humans cannot view members of other species but through a human-specific and human-oriented lens. Quite the disability, if you ask me. ;)
My friend veganelder has also been pondering this most peculiar inability, so I would invite you to read here, here, and here.
Please do think a bit more about the notion of privilege, the extent of your own particular set of privileges, how you can help those with fewer privileges, and how you can help other humans actually see the privilege-tinted lenses they wear. Thanks.
Oh, because privilege can be hard to think about objectively when you're the one enjoying its benefits, here are a few nifty lists of examples to make it a bit clearer:
- daily effects of white privilege (an excellent link first contributed by veganelder in one of my post comments)
- 30+ examples of Christian privilege
- 30+ examples of male privilege
- 30+ examples of class privilege
- 30+ examples of heterosexual privilege
- 30+ examples of cisgender privilege
So all we need now is for someone to write a 30+ examples of human privilege list. Sadly, it shouldn't be too difficult.