“We are surrounded by differences every day, but our society places a value on only some of them. By valuing the characteristics and lifestyles of certain individuals or groups and devaluing those of the others, society constructs some of its members as the ‘others’" (Rothenberg, 2016).
Once this happens the “others” are seen as less valued, deserving, smart, and even seen as non-human. Privilege comes from the macro-level settings where the specific social characteristics of race, class, gender, sexuality, and religion are believed to be normal and with supposed natural liberties, while those not honored are questioned and condemned. People may find themselves in a position of privilege just by fitting the demographics.
Racism, sexism, heterosexism, and classism can be formulas to social privileges; they cannot be entirely described as an expression of bias by themselves. People may not hold openly prejudicial thoughts, they may not view themselves having any of these advantages, yet they are able to appreciate the social advantages that their inherent social privilege affords them. There are advantages gained through access to better schools, housing, jobs, higher wages, education, access to services, and political representation. Oppression created by these social privileges form pens, they form walls which are not unintentional, inevitable, or rare. They are thoroughly connected to each other, like a spiderweb, designed to catch one between the other, limiting movement in any direction. These social privileges box people into belief structures that are hard for them to climb out of and walk away from, catering to some while oppressing the rest.
It becomes hard to see or even understand the differences in these social constructs. It is almost from birth we are conditioned to respond to our societal normalcies. If we are raised in a specific culture, a certain setting, we come to believe with little to no question that the actions of this community are acceptable. It isn’t until we are exposed to other cultures and beliefs that we are challenged to evaluate our current beliefs and make adjustments or change if we find it necessary.
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Rothenberg, P. (2016). Race, class, and gender in the United States: an integrated
study (8th ed.). Worth Publishers.
Roysircar, G. (2008). A Response to “Social Privilege, Social Justice, and Group
Counseling: An Inquiry”: Social Privilege: Counselors’ Competence with
Systemically Determined Inequalities. The Journal for Specialists in Group Work,
33(4), 377–384. https://doi.org/10.1080/01933920802424456
Woehrle, L. (1995). General overview of feminism and social change - The Politics of
Reality: Essays in Feminist Theory by Marilyn Frye [Review of General overview of
feminism and social change - The Politics of Reality: Essays in Feminist Theory
by Marilyn Frye]. Women’s Studies Quarterly, 23(3), 215–. Feminist Press.