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Dec. 31st, 2010 04:49 am (UTC)
Privilege versus entitlement
Generally, when talking about issues that intersect with gender, race and class, the definition of privilege that is most widely used is this:

PRIVILEGE: An UNEARNED advantage conferred upon a person or a specific grouping of people because of a particular identity that person or group of people claim.

ENTITLEMENT: The general belief that one has a right to these privileges.

  • It should be noted that privilege is a dynamic...not a fixed event or condition. Since different aspects of a person's identity can align or not align with various identity groups, people can find certain parts of their identity confer certain privileges on them where other parts of their identity may not. Being white confers certain privileges, being a cis woman gives some privileges while also denies others, etc...

  • It should also be noted that privilege is talked about most often when dealing with aspects of power and access to power WITHIN OUR SOCIETY IN GENERAL. When someone starts using examples like "I'm white, but I grew up in a black neighborhood and I most certainly was NOT privileged in that neighborhood." They are not looking past their own nose and are failing to see the larger picture of how their skin color affords them some unearned advantages in the larger society.

  • It should also be noted that often, the people who have the privilege have the most difficult time seeing that privilege. (Or as emanix has put it- "It's hard to see the mountain when you're standing on it.")

Setting aside that in our society, being part of a couple is one of those things that confers a lot of privilege onto a person, within the poly community I can see that privilege even more because it usually comes with a lot of entitlement.

When people start arguing what other people should be feeling or how other people should be expressing themselves on a subject (particularly when they start talking about other identity groups- "You know, people of color would do much better advancing their cause if they weren't so angry" or "I really wish people would stop bringing up privilege. What's the big deal...it happens and people should just deal with it rather than try to make me feel guilty for having it" or "That single HBB shouldn't complain so much about the attention she gets from couples like us"), I generally take that as a clue that there is a lot of privilege informing their behavior.

As for entitlement, it does amaze me how many couples, when given all sorts of perspectives about how their unicorn hunt is objectifying and degrading to those they hunt, dig their heels in and start defending their right to unicorn hunt. When people who are called on shitty behavior start responding with lines such as "YOUR poly isn't MY poly" or "There no one right way to do poly", I can generally take that as a clue that there is a lot of entitlement informing their behavior.

(NOTE: I'm not saying that there is no validity to sentiments such as "Your poly isn't my poly" or "There's no one right way to do poly". However, those statements do lose all their validity with me when they are used to defend generally shitty behavior.)