As a 22 year old white woman who grew up in Northern New Jersey, I’ve heard the phrase, “Check your privilege” many times in my life. I’ve heard it said to men who were a little too sexist without realizing it, I’ve heard it said to wealthy people, and I’ve heard it said to white people who don’t know the difficulties of being a minority. I wanted to keep this blog for my creative writing, and I don’t think of this as creative but a neccessary thought share.
I grew up in one of the wealthiest areas of the country and I went to a “new Ivy” for undergraduate and am now pursuing my PhD in chemistry. I am not super financially secure, but would not classify myself as financially insecure, I’d say I am safely in the middle, I don’t have money to play around with, but I have money to live a good enough life. So yes, I am blessed, there are many who would be thrilled to have these credentials and I admit I am lucky to have them.
In a certain respect, I never really thought that I could speak out on issues I see around me. Talking about issues with finances was not right I went to a school that cost 60,000 dollars a year, although struggling to pay the bill, who was I to talk about struggling financially? No offense, Kaitlyn but while you are going to your little rich bitch school, I’m working in all my spare time to afford my state school.I understood where I was and my privilege and therefore didn’t share.
Then one day I shared, and I realized that maybe my privilege needed to stop being checked. I went to a party one night, drank fast because we got there late and ended up on the couch. There I met a boy, who’s name I couldn’t tell you, I laughed at his jokes that probably weren’t that funny. He kissed me, I pushed him away. That should have been the end of the story but it wasn’t. I ended up being saved much further damage by a more sober friend, but if he hadn’t come, I couldn’t tell you what would have happened I couldn’t have physically ran away or moved much more than a cushion away.
I was shocked and particularly horrified by the incident based on a previous situation I had been in, it was overwhelming. I went to my school counselor and admitted my horror and my fear at what could have been and how I was still shaking and felt violated. Her response?
Roll eyes, and say, “Well, that’s what happens when you get that drunk.”
She was not looking empathetically at me. She was judging me. She was judging me and my ‘privilege’. I’m a white girl from Northern New Jersey studying chemistry at a world class university. I should have known better, I could feel it her look, poor little rich girl can’t hold her alcohol.
My first thought was fuck you and that about covers thought two, three and four.
My fifth thought was that I hated this idea of privilege, yes some people are more privileged then others , but this should not dictate our responses to them and we should not be so prejudiced to think this girl should have know better or well who’s really surprised that happened to her?
This is disgusting and a step backwards for all of us. What is the difference in me thinking this man could never understand rape because he’s a man and he will never be raped and wow, this girl was wearing a revealing outfit, she must have been asking for it.
Either way it’s shaming a person and making them scared or embarassed to come forward with a horrifying tale and forcing them to suffer in silence.
I never reported the nurse who said this to me.
It took me one year to admit to anyone that this is how I was talked to.
It’s taken me two years to realize she was wrong.
My ‘privilege’ doesn’t minimalize that I was taken advantage of.
Me being drunk doesn’t justify a boy taking advantage of me whether I’m rich, poor, white, black, latina, etc.
So stop using privilege as a reason why someone can’t contribute ideas or share thoughts.
You don’t move things forward by doing this. You don’t make things better.