Thursday, October 11, 2012

One Final Thought On Privilege

I promise, and then I'll put down the topic for awhile.

The post wherein I analyzed Natalie Reed's definitions was approvingly linked to by a blog called No Anodyne, which is home to a coterie of (self-identified) radical feminists. Talk about strange bedfellows... Anyhow, the specific article in question is titled "Pro Female and Trans Critical" and is essentially a defense (w/ links to resources) of a negative, though not necessarily incorrect, view of portions of the trans* community. Which, in turn, is apparently just shrapnel in a long running dispute between feminists and trans activists, fraught with charges and counter-charges of "privilege" on both sides.

So here we have two traditionally marginalized groups, women and trans-persons, making mutually-incompatible claims regarding privilege. For "privilege" to be worth anything as an analytic concept it needs to provide a mechanism to arbitrate between these claims. And I just don't see that happening at all, even in theory.

Take the idea of what constitutes a "safe space". Is it alright for biological women to want spaces that are restricted to biological women, or is that yet another example of transphobia? And is biological womens' inability to recognize their actions as transphobic a result of privilege?

It's not like one group or the other needs more education; both are very aware of the realities of various -isms and -obias and can be regarded as thought leaders in the identification of privilege. That they don't see eye-to-eye tells me that reasonable people may disagree on the issue of when privilege is operative.

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