On privilege

[This post was written on December 28, 2012, but since we weren’t yet making Falco’s sex public, I couldn’t post this until now.]

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it will mean to be parents of a small person who, from the time of his entry into the world, will already be gifted a whole lot more privilege than either of his parents received and experienced. Falco’s privilege gift basket includes but is definitely not limited to:

  • Being a cisgender male. Sure, Falco, your daddy walks through the world as a man and, as such, receives a lot of unearned privilege as a result. It is so very different to be a cisgender male, to have your biology and body match your gender identity, and to have a penis in a world that seems obsessed with the phallus. How in the hell are we going to deal with this when neither of your parents can relate?
  • Being a white person in a world that values whiteness, equates beauty with white standards, and routinely and systematically oppresses people of color. Your mommy and daddy believe that parenting around white privilege will be quite a challenge, but as people who have experienced white privilege their entire lives and actively and carefully work to consider and address issues of racism, we feel prepared for this particular challenge.
  • Being a person whose parents are perceived to be a heterosexual couple. Nevermind that you were birthed through your papa’s vagina, Falco, or that your mama will not yet have legal recognition as your mother, as the majority of the world will never know this. Once you are here and in our arms, the public will see what they perceive to be a mama and papa wearing you, carrying you, and loving on you. They will interpret our family unit as “normal,” which is gross and unfair. Luckily, you will have a lot of people in your life who are queer, have queer parents, and love queer people. Your father and mother also grew up with parents who were perceived to be heterosexual, and we will make sure that you have access to all sorts of family structures and thoroughly understand that family is not about biology, gender, sexuality, or number of adults that one might have in their lives.

Everytime someone tells me how I will soon see that raising a son is “easy” – and trust me, it happens with shocking frequency – I want to scream at them, “If raising a son is so ‘easy,’ you’re fucking doing it WRONG!” One of our friends, badass feminist blogger Cristy C of UpRoot fame, has uttered the following many times and it really resonates with us: “It is easier to teach someone to resist their oppression than it is to teach someone to refuse their own privilege.”

Raising a son who understands and rejects the nuances of the privilege he is handed simply for being born who he is will quite literally be the largest challenge we will ever experience. Bring it.

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5 thoughts on “On privilege

  1. Oh yes. This is something that N. and I think about too, though we won’t know until the baby is born what our particular challenge will be. I think an element of this, whether raising a boy or a girl, is how to do this nurturing mostly in an unspoken way, so that will be the baby’s world view from the get go.

    If N. and I have a boy, we will probably have to change the way we talk about sexist men in front of him, so that it doesn’t seem we are casting a broad net that might include our own loved one. Maybe for a girl too, honestly. But we are lucky that we have feminist men in our lives, some of whom do identify as feminist, and some, like my brother, who just never understood women to be anything but colleagues in making the world, and so end up being feminist anyway.

  2. Would that every parent go through the same thought process. Think of how our culture would evolve and grow. Our children are the lucky ones (in some ways). Because of our different family structures, we bring an awareness to the table whether we’re intentional about it or not. Falco is a lucky person already.

  3. I love love love this post. And completely agree (and the “having a boy” thing was something C and I definitely discussed in terms of what all that would mean). And it’s hard and can be overwhelming to try to be fully conscious of all that privilege can entail. And it IS so nuanced and woven through everything that it’s a constant conversation / learning. Anyway, you know this, just thinking about it myself. Two thumbs up for this post!

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