Relationships Magazine

Pruning Privilege

By Polysingleish @PolySingleish

Okay. This is going to be controversial.

This article may well piss people off. It may even offend some and anger even people who I hold dear. It is an article I have needed to write for a long time. These are thoughts that have been sitting silently with me for a while, and it feels right to give them expression now.

I am sure people will say I am far too idealistic or Utopian Well, yes, I am, thank you! The glass is half full with water and half full with air and has the potential to be emptied or filled with whatever you desire. I make no apologies.

You might perhaps think I am ‘out of touch’. Just because I happen to have a different opinion from you and your friends, it does not make my opinion any less valid. I will respectfully listen to any point of view when intelligently, eloquently, clearly and calmly articulated, and I WELCOME debate. Debate is essential to the growth and development of our group mind.

So, here we go.


A right or immunity granted as a peculiar benefit, advantage, or favor, such a right or immunity attached specifically to a position or an office. Originates from the notion of a law for or against a private person (adapted from Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

A way of framing issues surrounding social inequality, focusing as much on the advantages that one group accrues from society as on the disadvantages that another group experiences. Privilege differs from conditions of overt prejudice, in which a dominant group actively seeks to oppress or suppress another group for its own advantage. Instead, theories of privilege suggest that the privileged group views its social, cultural, and economic experiences as a norm that everyone should experience, rather than as an advantaged position that must be maintained at the expense of others. (taken from Wikipedia)

Ready? If you get triggered by conversations about privilege you may want to close the browser know. I have no desire to agitate anyone. I invite you to read with an open mind, and know that I do not seek to undermine the validity of anyone’s experiences. These, are simply my thoughts.

What if, when it comes to privilege, we’ve got it all wrong? What if, finding privilege in every situation and action isn’t actually helping to get rid of privilege?

A recent conversation about couple privilege has got me thinking.

Pruning Privilege

privilege flower is pleased to show you petals of privilege

Suppose privilege only exists as long as you continue to perpetuate it. What if, to remove privilege, you have to get rid of the notion in yourself first. Maybe, as long as you continue to think any human has any innate privilege over any others you are choosing to buy in to a system of thinking that needs to become obsolete. We could get rid of privilege by removing the walls in ourselves to accepting and loving everyone for who they are. I think we need to celebrate the uniqueness and diversity not obsess over the lack. Pointing out privilege seems to polarize and push us further apart. It feeds an attitude of anger and frustration with the world and encourages us to see our differences, rather than our similarities.

I won’t deny that privilege exists. Society is dripping with it. And there are some extreme examples of the discrimination that comes along with it, and some less severe examples too. By no means do I seek to invalidate or belittle those experiences. I’ve been there myself. I grew up a  bisexual (closeted) Caucasian expat woman in a Muslim country, and wouldn’t even know where to begin with deconstructing the many overlapping layers of privilege and elitism that were prevalent for me then. I think that, if we really want to build a society that is free from privilege, we can’t let it control us, not even in ferociously rising against it with the rhetoric I so often see- especially in the poly context of ‘couple privilege’.

Privilege seems to be based on facts about us, and not on who we actually are. If you can only identify with the facts about you, and you forget about the experience of what it is to actually be you, you will be ‘trapped by privilege’.

I think we need to get to a sense of Self beyond those trappings of labels and identities to find a place where privilege no longer has a context or a place. A place where we can be equals, and measured by what we do and what we give, rather than what we are.

Pruning PrivilegeI work in a profession where I see people in a state of nakedness every day. Non sexually I hasten to add. And you know what? When you peel off the clothes, we are all the same, we are all the same beautiful beings with equal capacity to do good in the world or to stay stuck in negative patterns. I see people in one of their most vulnerable states and I don’t care whether they are of a particular ethnicity, class, gender, relationship status or anything else. I care about their spirit, the spark of who they are, what their personality is like, how comfortable they feel in their body, and the experience they seek to confer upon the world around them. I get so confused when people talk negatively about someone because of their gender or sexual identity, or their ethnicity or country of origin, or because of their relationship style, or by their personal abilities or restrictions. I can’t- and won’t- identify them in my mind by just the facts surrounding their lives. Because to do so says that those facts are the most important and that the effervescent loving being beyond them is not. And perhaps that’s the biggest problem with our western society today. We identify with the facts of ‘who we are’ rather than the experience of who we are. And that limits who we think we have permission to be.

We need to learn to see everyone naked.

I heard a story today about a six year old who walked in the Vancouver Pride Parade one year carrying this sign that read:

Dear Humankind,

Your soul has no:





    or Religion

It is yours, and Mine, alone!

This kid knows where it’s at!

It might take generations to build a society where we are all free to be ourselves, without discrimination or societal-enforced notions of privilege. But why wait? I, personally, would like to start right now.

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