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Monday, July 22, 2013
I keep erasing and rewriting today's post. Mostly I want to get across the notion that you should avoid men who try to make you feel bad for being "privileged." Given that most people in history, in every country, have been dead poor, ruled over by a very small number of comparatively very rich people, you probably have whatever "privilege" you have because you, your parents or some high-minded person won it for you. For example, Western "privilege" is actually rather new.

The answer to why the literacy level in Scotland is so much higher than it is in, say, Bangladesh, is not "British colonialism" but a number of high-minded Scots who, three hundred years ago, thought all Scots, not just a few, should be able to read the Bible. And, as a matter of fact, the average Scottish worker could not afford  luxuries (such as a foreign holiday) until the sun set on the British Empire. British colonialism was tickety-boo for the ruling classes, but not so great for the Scottish bairns from just up the road who died of malnutrition in 1900, ken? The money didn't trickle down quite as much as people now pretend. 

The biggest earthly privilege any woman can have, I think, is to grow up in a family with a mum and dad who liked each other enough to stay together and model what a happy marriage looks like. Such a woman has this privilege not because of magic or Western colonialism or an unfair deity but because her parents consistently said "No" to anything that would hurt their marriage or their family, even if it was something really, really, desirable. They made sacrifices they were happy to make, but not at the cost of some guy trying to guilt their daughter into something by saying "Oh, you come from a happy family, do you? You're so privileged."

(Update: My inevitable mental response to just about any guy over 16 and under 60 who talked to me about my privilege would be, "You could bench 300 lbs if you worked at it long enough, and learn to beat the snot out of almost anyone who attacked you. You're so privileged." Meanwhile, new readers shouldn't get me wrong. I like men--most men. That is, most men I meet.)

Oh dear, I feel like erasing all this a third time, so I won't. I'm in a cranky mood and so not of much use to anyone, I fear. I'm all punchy and political. Maybe I should have some lunch.

Update 2: I had an interesting email from an American eavesdropper that reminded me that I should remind Americans that I am not an American, and this is not an American blog.  I'm a Canadian, I live in the UK, and as a Canadian who lives in the UK, I am according to my "Living in the UK" textbook, an ethnic minority. Given that all of my mother's grandparents were born in the UK of English and Scottish heritage, and that my dad is descended from northern Europeans, I think that's hilarious.

But I am told over and over again how lucky I am to be exempted, by my foreign accent, from the British class system. It's probably not nice to say so, but I suspect this exemption gets cancelled the second my husband speaks.

Update 3: Suddenly I am reminded again of this phone conversation in Boston

Seraphic: Actually, I'm a foreign student.

Boston Fundraiser on Phone (suspiciously): You speak English real good for a foreign student.

Seraphic: Yes, I do. I do speak English very well. So what kind of foreign student might I be?

Boston Fundraiser: English?