Kavanaugh Teaches Us What Privilege Really Is

The use of the word privilege is always fraught with difficultly: many people will automatically shut down upon hearing that word, since they don’t believe they are privileged–after all, one can always ‘look up’ and find someone with more advantages to you yourself have. It’s the sterile ‘how does a low-income white man living in a trailer possess privilege’ argument. But the Kavanaugh hearings–and the conservative backlash–have indirectly laid out a definition of privilege that many people would embrace:

Privilege is the ability to avoid personal repercussions from the harm, intentional or unintentional, one has inflicted on others.

Note the word unintentional. It doesn’t have to be deliberate cruelty or harm, such as overt bigotry, misogyny, or preying on the vulnerable. Embracing policies or social mores and strictures that harm other people (but not yourself) is also a manifestation of privilege. The second element, avoiding personal consequences, is also critical, and it is one that many people would respond to–the ability to ‘get away with it’ without any repercussions or consequences (here’s an example in a very different context).

The Kavanaugh confirmation is a disgrace, and the overwhelming privilege of the nominee is one reason why.

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2 Responses to Kavanaugh Teaches Us What Privilege Really Is

  1. Jay says:

    The GOP’s entire platform is preserving privilege for white men. Surprised it’s not a campaign slogan already.

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