Monday, January 24, 2011

Privilege and Entitlement Scorecard

There seem to be a plethora of blog and web posts lately about privilege and entitlement. In my opinion privilege is in the eyes of the one that feels they do not have said privilege and somehow feels they have a right to said privilege or are entitled to the privilege.  In many ways privilege is strictly a case of fate or individual initiative. By this I mean nobody being accused of privilege had anything to do with a privilege gained by birth because birth is arbitrary and to claim someone is privileged because they worked their ass off to get somewhere is just plain ignorant.
On the other side of the argument we have entitlement.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
An entitlement is a guarantee of access to benefits based on established rights or by legislation. A "right" is itself an entitlement associated with a moral or social principle, such that an "entitlement" is a provision made in accordance with legal framework of a society. Typically, entitlements are laws based on concepts of principle ("rights") which are themselves based in concepts of social equality or enfranchisement.
In a casual sense, the term "entitlement" refers to a notion or belief that one (or oneself) is deserving of some particular reward or benefit[1]—if given without deeper legal or principled cause, the term is often given with pejorative connotation (e.g. a "sense of entitlement").

Darn it, there is that word pejorative again as in “sense of entitlement”. The United States Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and the United States Bill of Rights are along with the Magna Carta among the greatest legal documents ever produced by man in my opinion.  We need to all recognize that as a species we humans are flawed and quite badly at times. Among these flaws are avarice or greed, envy, hate, and more than a few others.
Entitlement and envy are cousins.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Envy (also called invidiousness) is best defined as an emotion that "occurs when a person lacks another's (perceived) superior quality, achievement, or possession and either desires it or wishes that the other lacked it."[1]
Envy can also derive from a sense of low self-esteem that results from an upward social comparison threatening a person's self image: another person has something that the envier considers to be important to have. If the other person is perceived to be similar to the envier, the aroused envy will be particularly intense, because it signals to the envier that it just as well could have been he or she who had the desired object.
What many see as privilege could be simple envy. What some feel they are entitled to could also be simple envy. Now that we have some simple terms defined we can decide how one decides who is privileged and by the way that is sarcasm when discussing privilege with those born transsexual.
In my opinion we need a scorecard that allows one to decide just how “privileged” one is in life. We will give ourselves a 1 for a privilege and a –1 for lack of said privilege. If one is zero then your life is neutral or privilege neutral to be more exact. If your number reaches positive then you are a privileged person. If negative then one is not privileged but possibly “entitled” to something for nothing.
Okay, I was just kidding because keeping a scorecard on privilege and entitlement is about as stupid as worrying about privilege and entitlement or obsessing about privilege and entitlement. My maternal grandparents came to this country penniless from Ireland and my grandfather was the leader of a large union but he worked his ass off to get there and he actually made money in the stock market.  My paternal grandparents never left Wales but my dad who grew up in a home with no running water and an outhouse made it to Eton and Oxford because he was intelligent and both his grandparents lived and died in the slag towns of Wales. My mother was the first member of her family to ever graduate from High School and ended up at Radcliffe because she was very intelligent.
I was told this in another blog.

Or, in Elizabeth’s case, had very well educated parents, came from an affluent family in a large metropolitan area, and was offered the best psychiatric care on the planet…and also transitioned and had GRS at an early age.  But that was simply not the case for many if not most of us.


It does make me sound very privileged doesn’t it.  This is total and complete bullshit. In almost all cases somebody in the so-called privileged family worked their ass off to become privileged or better off and the big thing about the United States this is the goal of everyone except for the vocal few that like to scream about privilege which equates to an advantage in their minds and they would in many cases would like to take that away from people whose families earned that advantage.
There are important privileges though.
Now there is one privilege that is determined by fate and that is race and as a Nation we have worked hard to eliminate racism and most of us could care less and the proof is in the President of the United States Barack Obama. The United States is the first Western Democracy of note to elect a man of color to lead it and we did in a landslide and we did it peacefully. The rest of world please take note.
There will always be racists because idiots need someone to hate but in the US today if you are willing to study and go to school and work at it you can still go a long way.  How about being the first black President? Sorry, already done.
The next privilege is being born male and the male privilege which comes attached. Hard to argue that one but it is fate. An interesting privilege since one can give it up if born transsexual.  I am always leery of those transsexuals that climbed the corporate ladder and got rich and then decided it was time to be a girl because they were born transsexual and then of course keep that male privilege.  It is a personal failing on my part to think this way but then again I am sort of a skeptic but again that is me. If they really want to piss me off they can decide they are feminists but then most modern feminists piss me off anyway. I have several friends that walked away from everything just to be normal young women and those are women I admire.  I tolerate the others.
There is of course the famed passing privilege or the “blend factor” which anyone born MTF transsexual knows about.  I gather from certain people no longer blogging publically that we should be ashamed because we are elitist simply because we blend.  Oh, they would couch it behind other words and phrases but it was envy and as my god is my witness I wish I could give it to all of you but I can assure you in my case I kind of doubt you would have survived my childhood because I am surprised I did myself. Passing or blending in is just fate again unless one has the resources to spend 100K plus on making oneself pretty which a certain Obama Appointee did which is cool and yes I did know her before.
The irony of all this talk about privilege and entitlement is who the people talking about it are. It is us and we are them and I would understand if someone said being born transsexual is the ultimate non-privilege but most like to couch it in socio-economic terms and spout modern feminist mantras about how bad things are for women when many gained their notoriety as women born as men or made money as men and then believe they became women and thus have the right to be feminists. Total nonsense actually but then I am sure they were undercover women the entire time as I have been told multiple times. Unless you have worked your entire life as a woman, I have by the way; you are just a bullshit artist talking about feminism.  Living 45 to 50 years as men and then transitioning and now believing they are feminists can best be categorized as total bullshit. Try working as a woman without them knowing you were once a man for about 10 years by starting at the bottom and then talk to those that have walked a path you have not a single clue about.
Male privilege is a fact of life but it is changing because women are changing it and it can only be changed by women who were never perceived as male and if that bothers you then tough because it is a simple fact of life so get over it. You can be a transsexual activist but leave the feminism to those perceived as women otherwise it is just men invading something else women feel is their own.
Here is a quote from a real feminist.
“If you have some daily anguish from some cause that’s not really your fault — a rotten family, bad health, nowhere looks, serious money problems, nobody to help you, minority background (I don’t have that — a WASP — but I had other things), rejoice! These things are your fuel!”
Oh, if I did have a scorecard here is mine

White +1
Family wealth +1
Female -1
Born transsexual -1
Blending or passing +1
Pretty smart +1
For a +2 on the Privilege scale. I actually should be +3 because I willingly and gleefully was a girl and then a woman.
Wow, I am privileged I guess.  Could have fooled me but then us privileged folk do not know we are privileged I have read.

10 comments:

Caroline said...

To the privileged pile I would add anybody who has ever had the nerve to try any kind of transition whether they succeeded or not.

This group is the merest tip of the iceberg. Most of us who have lived their entire lives without anyone knowing of their life of torment.

Caroline xxx

Elizabeth said...

Anyone that transitioned with this crap has my love but I think you need to live and work as a woman before you start being a feminist.

Unless you have started work as a woman where you had to fight your way up the ladder then commenting on feminism takes a lot of hubris.

It is just my opinion but one forged by 40+ years of working as a woman in a man's world and nobody ever had a clue about me. I know all to weel about lower wages, harder advancement, and male prejudice towards me as a young girl and then a woman.

Anne said...

I really have to laugh to keep from crying when I here "folks", TG's, with a full set of male equipment carry on about mysogeny and the oppression of women by men.

I also find it highly ironic and notable that while the mainstream, (read the "cis" world), finds me to be a reasonably attractive and admirable woman, the TG's absolutely HATE my success, and by extention my accomplishments.


I am curious how I would "rate" on your scale of privilege.

I was born to a single mom who immigrated to this country as a recent HS graduate. Being of hispanic heritage, she settled in East LA where I grew up. I was "privilged" to learn English when I started school. It was at this point that I was also "privileged" to learn that I was not properly "plumbed" as a little girl.

So I am I +2 or -2 ? Then of course came growing up and going to school. My mother had by then married a first generation American, the son of an Italian immigrant. He too was a HS grad. Together they recognized the value of education and managed to send me to Catholic School. So that was definately a plus(+), paid for with money earned by the sweat of their brows, by my parents. From there I EARNED, by virtue of my own hard work and study, the "privelege" to attend and study at the best college prep in SoCal. OK another EARNED privilege. Another plus(+).

After that, I EARNED a high enough GPA to be accepted to Stanford, Georgetown and U of Cal. As being the underprivilged child of working class immigrant parents, I lacked sufficient "privilege" to attend the private schools and had to settle for public, State sponsored University.

I hve to admit that the intellectual challenge was just not there and I essentially "skated through" on what I had in HS and my writing skills. "No worries, mate", by ten I had bigger fish to fry and more pressing issues to deal with.

So I would have to conclude that privilege is a certain combination of simple dumb luck and hard work.

As for being a feminist, I had never given it any thought. After transition I worked initially as a stripper and moved very quickly into Real Estate. Some of you may remember that the 70's and early 80's was a great time for RE and despite the slow down of the late 80's, I muddled through and managed to survive and continue to prosper having been "privileged" to have avoided the current RE meltdown.

In addition to that I started and operated a very successful Gen'l. Eng'g. consulting firm from which I finally EARNED enough "privilege to retire in 1997. I have also been "privilged" to have enjoyed the love and attention of more than a few fine men, and I certainly EARNED THAT privilege.

So on balance, I would have to say that I have lived a very privileged life and for that I will make no apologies. I paid my dues in blood, sweat and tears and I am proud to have had that "privelege"

Elizabeth said...

@Liz

First let me tell you that you are a terrific writer. Your posts are so refreshing and you say the things I want to say but you do it with so much truth. I hate when people think that transitioning early is a privilege because it isn't. I would say that I was privileged simply for having a family that accepted me even though they are poor as dirt and could not financially help me. A far as being passable, I consider myself to blend in and it in no way made my transition any easier, if anything it held me back because I was young and pretty and that gave me false validation and made my transition later than it had to be because vanity took my thoughts away from my transition.

As far as being entitled, I hope one day I earn entitlement. So far all I have done is follow my heart and that doesn't make me entitled to anything. The people who earn it by taking advantage of being male and then switching it like a light switch make me feel he same way you do. I have known one person who did that and it is almost as if when they transitioned, they lost all of the maturity that they gained by working hard and acted like a child who inherited responsibility. And then to be feminists on top of that??? Live the life of a women, hell live the life of a full ime trans women even before you ever open that can of worms. I have been living life as the real me for 8 years now and I have felt some of the unfairness women feel but would still not take on something like that.

@Anne

I commend you for working hard to earn the privileges that you ARE in fact entitled to in my opinion. Young t-girls coming up could learn a lot from you.

Elizabeth @ OMGItsATranny.com

Susan said...

Well, as I wrote the block quote above I have to point out a couple of things the first of which is that taken out of context, as it is, it is easy to say that it is representative of privilege...and in fact it is. It is also the truth is it not? Your parents are well educated, you do come from a large metropolitan area do you not? And, you were counseled by Harry Benjamin, though I guess he wasn't a psychiatrist per se. I mean, you do give the above information here on your blog.

But, in context, that quote was but one sentence that was attempting to illustrate the different backgrounds of those who transition, of which yours was but one of the three that I described...and of which no hierarchy was opined.

Anyway, in the paragraph in which you called that quote "total and complete bullshit" you go on to say that:

"In almost all cases somebody in the so-called privileged family worked their ass off to become privileged or better off and the big thing about the United States this is the goal of everyone except for the vocal few that like to scream about privilege which equates to an advantage in their minds and they would in many cases would like to take that away from people whose families earned that advantage."

I've said essentially the exact same thing on my blog. I'm not one of those who screams about the privilege others have, nor have I ever wanted to take some perceived privilege away from someone who might have it. When I think about privilege at all, and I rarely if ever do, it is in this context:

"I’m proud of whatever privilege I have; they are the fruits of my labor and I worked very hard to get them. I’m not about to give them up. I don’t apologize for having them and am not inclined to relinquish them to someone who feels they are entitled to them just because I have them."

"I have no sympathy for those who feel they are entitled to privilege but are not willing to work for them…and even less sympathy for those who throw privilege they don’t have in the face of those of us who do. Having privilege is nothing to be ashamed of."

Elizabeth said...

Susan,

You brought me into the middle of a post about sailboats that basically had me in tears because my dad loved sailing and those memories of the little time I had with him are so precious. Then you spoiled it.
Actually Susan it was not taken out of context. You might like it to be considered out of context but in the context that you diverted a nice sailboat post to jump into the argument with Aria and me I was probably being gracious to you because in a very deceitful way you questioned my being and why I would post pictures plus other items and then said they could be real or faked but I believe they are, maybe. You did not straddle the fence on this one as well as you often like to.
The irony was and is I was trying to be honest about my background because I was questioned by Aria and her friends as you did. You knew this because you would not have jumped in for your veiled defense of Aria. Funny you never questioned Aria Blue and her mysterious self but then Aria Blue was above reproach was she not? I am who I am and Aria Blue turned out to be a fraudulent, lying, duplicitous, disingenuous, and worst of all a deadbeat father yet in that post you questioned her being not once, just mine.
You brought the other narratives in just so your questioning of mine would not be so open yet you did question mine along with others. It's a cruel twist isn't it when you think about it. The very thing that causes extreme distress in kids like me later in life becomes described as privilege or possibly denied by someone like Aria or slyly questioned by you who should know better but then you were defending Aria were you not?
Wow, I do love the inference to Dr. Benjamin Susan. Isn’t Dr. Benjamin the devil incarnate to Aria and her friends? Yes I came from a large Metropolitan area but that was never any help and you would have known that if you had read anything on this blog but you brought your personal bias to the argument. I guess all those shrinks that almost killed me were a privilege. Yes my parents were well educated but we were not wealthy. The money resided with my grandmother and not my parents. You claim it was a privilege and I would beg to differ. I was lucky to be born to my parents because they always loved me. I am so sorry yours did not. If that is privilege then so be it but fate is a better categorization.
Just to set you straight Susan I did not fully transition until I was 23 years, 8 months, and 20 days old. I had surgery when I was 25 years and six days old. Tomorrow is the 40th anniversary of my surgery. Admittedly I did not do boy that well and passing as a boy was not easy and I did have the advantage of starting hormones early which gave me more of a girl’s puberty which I am thankful for.
Maybe you were just innocently writing what you wrote but in my humble opinion you are too smart and literate to have written that without totally understanding what you implied or inferred.
I am always interested in your opinions and they are always welcome.

Liz

Susan said...

No, I didn’t bring you into the middle of a post about sailboats; I barely mentioned you in passing in a post about sailboat and legitimacy entitled Lazarettes and Legitimacy…and, yes, you pulled out of context the quote in question.

Now, with regard to you and Aria Blue I said this on Lazarettes and Legitimacy http://tgnonsense.wordpress.com/2010/12/06/lazarettes-and-legitimacy/ :

“On a different note, I see there is quite the brouhaha going on between Aria Blue and Notes from the T-side . I read one comment this morning from my very good friend Leigh on Aria Blue’s blog where, in part, she said THIS:
In regards the aria vs elizabeth(liz) thing, I have read both sides, commented both sides and for the life of me I can’t see where either is right or either is wrong. What is wrong is that the proverbial $hit has been flung far from the fan and covered a lot of people that were mostly innocent bystanders, causing them to become embroiled into this circle of accusations that should never have happened.
I haven’t kept up with al the drama but I think Leigh has a good point. I also read THIS from CassandraSpeaks, quoted in part, over on Notes from the T-side:
Elizabeth, first off, I don’t give a damn what others may think because I know that relationship was exactly what you say it was. My own experience at a similar stage was not punctuated by the parental contact with doctors as yours was. Though at 14 my Mother did consult with several general practitioners who assured her I would “grow out of it” But I was very much in love with a boy in a very similar way.
I also think CassandraSpeaks has a good point.

Susan said...

I went on to say this:

"For the record, I’ve chatted with both of these two, Leigh and CassandraSpeaks, for a long, long time. Leigh and I go back years and years and have spent a considerable amount of time together in real time. I double dated with her the night she met her husband and know him well also. I agree with both of these ladies on a lot of things and I know they agree with me on many as well. I don’t, however, think that because we all may agree on something that makes anyone a minion of another. We are all older ladies who share our own independent ideas…we’ve all been around for a long time. Someone on one of these two blogs said something about “button pushing”…I think a lot of that is going on…needlessly.

I do find the bona fides of a hospital address, a physician’s business card, and a Harry Benjamin appointment card posted on the Notes from the T-side blog interesting…as well a photo of Elizabeth that is over 30 years old. I don’t care, mind you. It’s just I fail to see the point of why she would want to post them. I believe they are real, but in this day and age they could just as easily be fake documents. Who cares?

I’ve said before I have nothing but envy for those whose parents were/are understanding of our situation or of whom grew up within circumstances that allowed them to transition early. If one is inclined to believe the stories, I’m sure there are more than a few like Suzan Cooke. Girls who left home immediately, hit the streets, got into the gay scene in a big city, ended up in a gender program, transitioned and had GRS. Or, in Elizabeth’s case, had very well educated parents, came from an affluent family in a large metropolitan area, and was offered the best psychiatric care on the planet…and also transitioned and had GRS at an early age. But that was simply not the case for many if not most of us."


And, it wasn't the case for most of us.

Now, Elizabeth, take note of a few things here:

With regards to your bona fides…the part that you seem to be taking issue with. I plainly, in very small, easy to understand English words…say this:

“I believe they are real, but in this day and age they could just as easily be fake documents. Who cares?”

I stand by that. Who cares? Well, obviously you do. But I could give a rat’s butt one way or the other. I’ve been on the internet way long enough to not believe everything I read there. I mentioned to you once before that when and if I should come at you nothing about it would be ”veiled” and I meant it. And, if and when that ever comes to pass the lead up to it will certainly not start with I believe they are real…. On the contrary, I will state straight up that I think you are a fake. I haven't said that but if I thought it I would.

Susan said...

And, that brings me to the second point…you and Aria Blue.

I haven’t a clue what transpired between you and Aria Blue…no idea whatsoever. I wasn’t in on any of that. From what I know after the fact, however, I do think it was pretty childish and juvenile on both of your parts. And, no, I haven’t questioned Aria Blue and her background, then again, I haven’t questioned you or yours either. There are a lot of things I haven’t done. But, just for the sake of argument, let’s assume that everything you have said about Aria Blue is the truth. If I had that information I’d have never have revealed it on the internet…ever…and honestly don’t think much of you for doing so. I wouldn’t think much of anyone who would do something like that…I don’t give a damn what the circumstances are.

Enough Non-Sense is my second blog and though I’ve had a blog on the net for four years or so I don’t consider myself a serious blogger. But, during my time blogging I’ve had several opportunities to nail people to the cross with information about them that would make your expose of Aria Blue seem lame. And, on every occasion I’ve refrained from doing so. In a couple of instances, a person would come on my blog and reveal all of the dirt about the person in the form of a comment; I immediately deleted their comment. There are some on the net who have made me extremely angry because we have disagreed on perspective, but there is no way I would post private matters about their lives. I don’t cut people just to see them bleed. One doesn’t need a thermonuclear device to crack and egg.

Regardless of what Aria Blue’s background is or was there was a lot of what she had to say that I agreed with…sometimes a whole lot…other times not so much. That’s pretty much the way it is with most people on the net whom I follow…including your blog. If she said something I agreed with I might comment…so what? I’m certain her world didn’t rise and fall on my position, and only a squirrel would think mine did on hers.

I know one thing, Elizabeth, I’ve no desire to engage you here anymore, nor comment on your blog. Honestly, I’m above it. This is way, way too juvenile an exchange for my taste. If I need someone to interpret what I write and to read my mind all the while telling me what I really mean I can get Dysonnance to do that any time of the day or night.

Elizabeth said...

Susan,

It is quite clear you and I have a decidedly different interpretation of “barely mentioned you in passing” since I would claim I was one of the focal points in the section about legitimacy but then I am sure you would tend to disagree.

I was and still am puzzled why you would even mention me in said post. I have my own personal belief why you did but then I gather one is not allowed to interpret or read anything into anything Susan posts. Susan, if you do not want it interpreted then simply don’t post it because by definition anything posted is open to the readers interpretation and I would never attempt to read the mind of one so gifted as yourself. It is beneath anyone’s capabilities I am sure although maybe if one is transcendent and empathic it is possible. Talk with Aria about that.

Have I ever commented on you as a woman and ever claimed something negative about your integrity or basic existence? I have not so why did you feel it necessary to bring up and comment on my existence again. Why do you bring up pictures and bona fides and other silly little snide remarks? Was it necessary or were you being silly like a squirrel just for a second?
Aria’s attacks on me were personal and affected my personal integrity. I took absolutely no pleasure in saying what I said but I did not know how else to stop her and her friends and if that is a personal failing then so be it but I did what I had to do and never have been one afraid to do the necessary. In point of fact I put the information on my blog you commented on in an attempt to quiet them down but then you mentioned it didn’t you? That in itself was questioning my integrity but of course we differ on that I am sure.

I respect Aria even if I disagreed with some of her opinions and certainly her assessment of me and others but she spoke her mind and was an irritant at times but at least she was an upfront in your face irritant. I am actually sorry she stopped blogging. Attacking me personally crossed the line and I did what I needed to end it which again begs the question why would you post this stuff on my blog? Why bring it up again?

By the way Susan my mention of you in this blog post is what being “mentioned in passing” means just for your edification which I am sure you do not require. Plus, I do not believe your name was even mentioned on this particular post.

In the third section of your post or comment you stated you had never questioned my background. Are you actually saying what you brought up was NOT a way of bringing forth questions about me and implying and then denying them at the same time? Only a simpleton would believe that and you are not a simpleton.

My integrity was at issue only because I told Aria she was wrong about something and yes I was forceful but the chronology of the events and comments are irrefutable. I did not start it but I guess I finished it because Aria went to ground. I will admit I find parents that desert their children beneath contempt and I could not avoid posting that because it irritates the hell out of me. Everyone could have their narrative questioned except for Aria.

I was not trying to expose Aria. If I was trying to expose Aria I would have posted everything and I refrained from doing that and believe me I had everything. I am sure you would have refrained from doing anything if Aria and her friends said about you what they said about me. Always easier from the armchair I guess but you could ask Cassandra what Aria said about me but then that would involve getting involved. Sorry, I guess this was your way of getting involved wasn’t it?

Yes Susan this was a juvenile exchange and I am afraid you are the juvenile. Stating that I have no right to interpret what you wrote in a blog might by the single stupidest statement ever put on a post or a comment in the history of blogging and for such an “experienced” blogger to say that simply stuns me. Are you telling me what you write cannot be not open for interpretation?