Linkspam: Unpacking the invisible knapsack Straight privilege edition
So apparently this month is LGBT Pride Month. I therefore snagged this from ontd political which gives the info that it was first put together by students of Earlham College and then link-enhanced by the current poster. Do I need to mention the part where ‘phobic assholes of any kind will be summarily deleted and banned? Oh who am I kidding? Homophobic, transphobic, any ‘phobic assholes of any kind will have their comments summarily deleted and be considered for banning depending on the severity of the offense. That having been said…on with the show.
- I can be pretty sure that my roomate, hallmates and classmates will be comfortable with my sexual orientation. (Example: “Gay bulling in schools ‘common'” – BBC | Campus Climate for LGs – The Task Force).
- If I pick up a magazine, watch TV, or play music, I can be certain my sexual orientation will be represented. (Example: More gay characters on TV now than before – Variety | LGBT Character Shows May Lose Tax Credit – SD G&L News).
- 03. When I talk about my heterosexuality (such as in a joke or talking about my relationships), I will not be accused of pushing my sexual orientation onto others.
- 04. I do not have to fear that if my family or friends find out about my sexual orientation there will be economic, emotional, physical or psychological consequences. (Example: PFLAG Rejection Statistics – PFLAG)
- 05. I did not grow up with games that attack my sexual orientation (IE fag tag or smear the queer). (Example: From Bullies to Heroes: Homophobia in Video Games – Student Pulse.)
- 06. I am not accused of being abused, warped or psychologically confused because of my sexual orientation. (Example: “Camp that ‘cures’ homosexuality” – Times Online.)
- 07. I can go home from most meetings, classes, and conversations without feeling excluded, fearful, attacked, isolated, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance, stereotyped or feared because of my sexual orientation. (Constance McMillen Wanted to Take Her Girlfriend to the Prom, So the School Board Canceled it – CBS News.) It’s also worth noting that CBS probably chose the worst picture of her to pair with that article. It’s hard to say if that was motivated or not.
- 08. I am never asked to speak for everyone who is heterosexual.
- 09. I can be sure that my classes will require curricular materials that testify to the existence of people with my sexual orientation. (Example: Banning Gay Books – Alternet).
- 10. People don’t ask why I made my choice of sexual orientation.
- 11. People don’t ask why I made my choice to be public about my sexual orientation.
- 12. I do not have to fear revealing my sexual orientation to friends or family. It’s assumed.
- 13. My sexual orientation was never associated with a closet.
- 14. People of my gender do not try to convince me to change my sexual orientation.
- 15. I don’t have to defend my heterosexuality.
- 16. I can easily find a religious community that will not exclude me for being heterosexual. (Example: Homosexuality and Religion – Religion Facts).
- 17. I can count on finding a therapist or doctor willing and able to talk about my sexuality. (Example: Rekers and the Barbarism of Anti-Gay Therapy.)
- 18. I am guaranteed to find sex education literature for couples with my sexual orientation.
- 19. Because of my sexual orientation, I do not need to worry that people will harass me. (Largest Ever Study on Anti-LGBT Harassement – GLSEN).
- 20. I have no need to qualify my straight identity.
- 21. My masculinity/femininity is not challenged because of my sexual orientation. (Examples: Are Gay Stereotypes true? – ABC).
- 22. I am not identified by my sexual orientation.
- 23. I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help my sexual orientation will not work against me. (Example: ‘Doctor Shock’ – Huffington Post.)
- 24. If my day, week, or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether it has sexual orientation overtones.
- 25. Whether I rent or I go to a theater, Blockbuster, an EFS or TOFS movie, I can be sure I will not have trouble finding my sexual orientation represented. (Example: Before ‘Bruno’: A brief history of gay characters in movies and TV – NY Daily News).
- 26. I am guaranteed to find people of my sexual orientation represented in the Earlham curriculum, faculty, and administration.
- 27. I can walk in public with my significant other and not have people double-take or stare. (Example: Kiss Off: A gay couple cited for holding hands on Main Street Plaza – Salt Lake City Weekly).
- 28. I can choose to not think politically about my sexual orientation.
- 29. I do not have to worry about telling my roommate about my sexuality. It is assumed I am a heterosexual.
- 31. I can remain oblivious of the language and culture of LGBTQ folk without feeling in my culture any penalty for such oblivion.
- 32. I can go for months without being called straight. (I suppose this depends on where you are and who your friends are.)
- 33. I’m not grouped because of my sexual orientation.
- 34. My individual behavior does not reflect on people who identity as heterosexual.
- 35. In everyday conversation, the language my friends and I use generally assumes my sexual orientation. For example, sex inappropriately referring to only heterosexual sex or family meaning heterosexual relationships with kids.
- 35. People do not assume I am experienced in sex (or that I even have it!) merely because of my sexual orientation. (Example: GLBT Stereotypes – GLBT Social Sciences).
- 36. I can kiss a person of the opposite gender on the heart or in the cafeteria without being watched and stared at. (Example: Is Main Street USA Ready For Gay PDA – ABC News).
- 37. Nobody calls me straight with maliciousness. (Example: John Mayer’s Apology Wanted for Use of Gay Slur – Aceshowbiz).
- 38. People can use terms that describe my sexual orientation and mean positive things (IE “straight as an arrow”, “standing up straight” or “straightened out”) instead of demeaning terms (IE “ewww, that’s gay” or being “queer”).
- 39. I am not asked to think about why I am straight.
- 40. I can be open about my sexual orientation without worrying about my job. (Example: Bias in the Workplace: Consistant Evidence of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination [.doc download] – UCLA).”
Can you add more?
26 thoughts on “Linkspam: Unpacking the invisible knapsack Straight privilege edition”
I’ve got one for you, that happened to me personally: “If I am the victim of violence or psychological mistreatment, people won’t tell me that I ‘invited’ or ’caused’ it by being honest about my heterosexuality.” (I actually had my high-school guidance counselor tell me that by being out of the closet I was “inviting” other students to attack me. And I’ve seen that other times, where people dismiss violence/mistreatment of gay people, with the rationale that “they should keep it in the closet then”.)
So much for “guidance”, there. What an utter ASSHOLE really, I want to know how she’d go around hiding her heterosexuality. And like you said, it is so fraking common!
Yeah, after I’d gone to her three times to try and get the homophobic harassment to stop, she told me that I was inviting it by being open, and that if I came to her with another complaint she’d “have to find [me] another school”. That was a thinly-veiled threat, since my school was the safest in the district, and as bad as my experience there was it would have been even worse at another school, and we both knew it. It was basically a way of saying, “Shut up or it’s going to get even worse.” I know she went on to become the assistant superintendent of the whole school district a few years after I graduated. I’m not sure whether that’s better or worse; while she had more access to influence how the schools ran, at least she had less access to actual students.
I realized I forgot one on my list of additions: “I can easily find a church or other religious institution that is willing to marry my significant other and me.”
Oh, and a few more that are fairly obvious, although not so common to college students (usually):
* I can marry my significant other easily. I don’t have to potentially travel to another country or state in order to be married, and if I do get married, it will be recognized all over the world.
* I don’t risk losing custody of my children due to my sexual orientation.
* If I want to adopt children with my significant other, I know we won’t be rejected as a result of our sexual orientation.
* If we need to use a sperm donor to have children, I know my significant other and I won’t be refused service at a fertility clinic due to our sexual orientation.
People don’t say that something is “too heterosexual” as a reason to refuse doing it.
(seriously, more or less all the boys in my brother’s class refused to pay attention in frensh because it “souded too gay”.)
No casual acquaintances or complete strangers would ever say “I don’t think it’s right for a heterosexual couple to do that to a child” if me and my partner choose to have one.
If I choose to get a divorce, I can, if need be, get the court to enforce that I can see my child, or that the other parent continues to pay to support the child.
(The last one falls under the marriage one above, but my friends parents went through a nasty divorce that ended up okay because both moms are wonderful people, but could have been terrible.)
No one calls consensual sex between married/highly committed heterosexual partners “disgusting.”
I really like this unpacking thing. I actually took a class in high school that required us to do it for two identities we weren’t… It definitely started some good discussion (ha, and one of the examples I wrote above I’m pretty sure I also used in that class).
Not completely true. I’ve heard too many “ewwwwww, old people sex!”. Although I suppose “old gay people sex” would induce a longer eww.
I don’t have to worry about being separated from my legal spouse because they’re from another country, just because my own country doesn’t recognize our marriage as valid because of our sexual orientation. I’m legally allowed to sponsor my spouse for permanent residency.
Sadly, I could come up with these all day.
* If my long-term partner is hospitalized, I won’t be denied the right to be in the hospital room and/or participate in their care as a result of my sexual orientation.
* If my long-term partner dies, I won’t be denied fair inheritance due to my sexual orientation.
* When going to meet the family of my partner, I know they won’t automatically reject me due to my sex. I won’t have to pretend to be just a friend or a room-mate.
* I don’t need to worry about losing my volunteer position (such as being a Scouts leader or a Little League coach) if my sexual orientation becomes public knowledge.
* I don’t need to worry about losing my military career due to my sexual orientation.
* Nobody claims or insinuates that I am more likely to molest children and/or carry diseases because of my sexual orientation.
Thank you for the eye-opening. I feel very schooled, and humbled. Not to be flippant, but as I read the list, I felt as though my brain was expanding. I hope I can pass the same on to my son when I correct him about using “gay” as a pejorative, and correct him *every* time he uses it. Again, thank you, so much!
Don’t forget just how much cheaper it is to be in a different-sex relationship!
* My partner can use pre-tax money to pay for my health insurance and health care costs.
* If my spouse dies before I do, I have a legal right to continue to inhabit our shared home.
* If my spouse dies before I do, the state will not evict me from our shared home and sell it in lieu of Medicaid costs. (http://aspe.hhs.gov/daltcp/reports/liens.htm and scroll to “States are prohibited from making estate recoveries”: spouses are protected from estate recovery but unmarried partners are not. And that’s federal law, so same-sex couples aren’t counted as spouses even in states where same-sex marriage is legal.)
* I don’t need to pay lawyers hundreds of dollars to craft individual agreements to make sure my family members can inherit my money without paying exorbitant taxes. (http://www.outestateplanning.com/totalreturntrust.htm)
* I don’t need to pay lawyers hundreds of dollars to craft individual agreements to give me power of attorney, medical decision-making powers, child visitation rights in case of divorce, joint ownership of assets, and the other benefits that come with legal marriage.
I posted these at Alas but I wanted to present them to the different audience at ABW as well:
* It is assumed that I have sex only with consenting adults
* My sexual tastes are taken seriously; it is believed that I really am interested in what my behavior suggests I’m interested in and what I say I’m interested in.
* Particularly if I am in a relationship, I am assumed to feel some affection for my partner, and to respect him or her.
* If seeking a partner, I needn’t worry about whether I’m doing so in forums in which my sexual orientation is welcome.
* I can seek psychological counseling or psychological treatment without fear that the professional will try to “cure” my sexual orientation.
(Quick note about my lack of a name: I am not out publicly – see #4. This handle is the one I use on whofic.com.)
I learn a lot from reading this blog & liked this post especially. I wanted to share about my experience, because it is so rarely represented in discussions like these, and if I want that to change, well, that’s my job. I am a BDSM “switch” and went through this list, replacing “sexual orientation” with “kink”, and then chose the ones that applied most strongly to me. Here we go:
* I can be pretty sure that my roomate, hallmates and classmates will be comfortable with my kink.
* If I pick up a magazine, watch TV, or play music, I can be certain my kink will be represented.
* 04. I do not have to fear that if my family or friends find out about my kink there will be economic, emotional, physical or psychological consequences.
* 06. I am not accused of being abused, warped or psychologically confused because of my kink.
* 09. I can be sure that my classes will require curricular materials that testify to the existence of people with my kink.
* 12. I do not have to fear revealing my kink to friends or family. It’s assumed.
* 17. I can count on finding a therapist or doctor willing and able to talk about my sexuality.
* 18. I am guaranteed to find sex education literature for couples with my kink.
* 28. I can choose to not think politically about my kink.
* 35. In everyday conversation, the language my friends and I use generally assumes my kink.
* 40. I can be open about my kink without worrying about my job.
There are a good handful of features of vanilla privilege (particularly straight cis vanilla privilege). Though as someone who is kinky but not gay, I’m not sure how much the privilege concept even applies in that context.
On this – “Though as someone who is kinky but not gay, I’m not sure how much the privilege concept even applies in that context.”
Perhaps that varies person-to-person. What’s different between kinky/gay is that kinky people really can hide their kink without major life consequences (though it does cause difficulty with finding partners and figuring out consent issues) – but the down side there is we end up being invisible. I have recently seen people using the terms “heteronormative” and “non-heteronormative” and feel like I have a place there. As do straight men who like pegging.
I want to thank you for sharing these. Pre-emptively, I think the issue of BDSM in particular (and to at least some extent, kink in general) both overlaps with, and dovetails with, the sexual and gender orientation privileges being discussed here, such that you’re enriching this conversation, not derailing it.
I’m not particularly into BDSM myself; I sometimes read BDSM erotica, some of which works for me and some of which leaves me cold (or worse); I’m currently in a poly relationship in which my primary partner also has another partner who is her sub; I have a number of friends and acquaintances who are involved in BDSM relationships and/or communities to greater or lesser degrees and who trust me enough to have let me know that; and I’m willing to engage in BDSM play with a partner to whom doing so is important, though I’d probably be terrible at maintaining BDSM interaction all the time or even in all my sexual interactions with a given partner (and I recognise that that’s not an indication of there being anything wrong with BDSM, just that it’s not something I’m by nature adept at, like bowling or flying a helicopter).
As a result, reading through your list made me aware of my privileges in comparison to people I know (and people I don’t) who are into BDSM (and/or other kinks I don’t share) in ways that made me thoughtful and sometimes uncomfortable. Being made aware of one’s unconscious privileges is rarely comfortable, but (hopefully) is always enlightening. It also made me realise the extent to which I’ve blinded myself somewhat to some of the privileges I do still have, despite being a disabled female-bodied non-Christian queer trans person of mixed race who “passes” (as white) in some situations but not in others and is also frequently mistaken for being Jewish or Muslim, and so is far more accustomed to being aware of privileges others around me are taking advantage of which are not available to me.
So, thank you, thank you, and thank you.
That’s a great list, but I have to say that it doesn’t really address trans issues.
Would you be interested in helping us out with that?
Queen Emily’s link below is good, I also like this one (which hers links to):
ABW, I also wrote an expanded one of those a year back, that I’d be happy to send along to you for re-posting.
Cedar did a pretty comprehensive cis privilege list here:
Here’s one I thought of: No one will ask me “Who is the man in the relationship?” (Or, “wears the pants”, or other questions based on sexist relationship paradigms.)
Speaking of trans issues, I’m always amazed there are people who, on learning that someone is M2F, think it’s perfectly OK to ask if she’s had the operation. This is mind-bogglingly rude and intrusive but I’ve been present when someone asked that very question of a transwoman. What lies between someone’s legs is between them, their doctor, and their lovers and is no one else’s damn business. Surely this isn’t a difficult concept to grasp?
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