Rachel Johnson

Atheist Blogger- the godlessvagina / Podcaster the pink atheist

What about the term Privilege don’t you get?



Let me open by stipulating that I really think it is the pedantic notion of insulting, and verbally assaulting someone which inspires the use of the term privilege. Like aggressively silencing someone because they are not the right color, or gender, or race to address any situation. It is the dismissal of education, intellectual value, hard work and dedication to unity which drives the bitter vitriol into people.


As of late there is a seething band of people in the atheist community who think throwing out the privilege card means you win. Like a triumph card. So let me enlighten you, that not only is this false, but it clearly states you feeling of inferiority, and abusive nature.


Don’t think I have the intention of spending the rest of my days responding to assaults on this blog, because I am sure they will just confirm what I am stating here, and in reality, and in light of my education on this topic, I am not interested to argue with you.


Privilege is thrown at men in droves. A white cis male, he can’t talk about race issues. Are you sure? What if he has spent his life in the ghetto, or has a degree in minority studies, or has helped in the cause of gaining rights for minorities and seen the suffering?


Since when did being white and straight make you anything? Are you privy to his private life? Do you know about his circumstances, education, friends, and activism? If not aren’t you just using your ignorance to say he is ignorant?


Does everyone have privilege? According to the way people are throwing around the terminology, yes. White and straight, and male. White and straight. Upper class, lower class, middle class. Oh the privilege. But just if you are white, and straight, and especially if you are male?


Let me just bring the reality check in here. You don’t know what you are talking about, and you look like it when you talk.


Most lower class white  straight males at best have a few friends. Social friends. The don’t have access to the resources to have any power. They go to their jobs where they work 8, 10, 12, 16 hours a day to provide for their families. They work alongside minorities who are doing the same. They make enough money for a home, car, and food.  The amount of privilege society offers them is nothing. They get speeding tickets, pay high taxes, don’t have big savings accounts, don’t rub elbows with rich men, aren’t of substantial value to their work place so that they can do what they please, and society notes they exist and could care less.


Since I have known lesbians, and homosexual males, in that lower class, the same goes for them. They generally live a life the same way. Most people don’t treat them too differently, except bigots. And then it is not about privilege, it is about bigotry. They get treated equal to the other minorities, by bigots. But for the majority of the time, they just live the same non privileged life.


Just because you are white and straight and male in America doesn’t mean anything, other than there are less bigots waiting to abuse you. And since when is the lack of abuse a privilege? So we are equating abusive behaviors with non privilege, and not putting them were they belong?


Are we really saying, you haven’t been abused enough by society and life, so you must have some magical privilege? So then I guess you don’t care if he was a straight white male who was systematically abused at home?


Since when is not having something happen to you a privilege? Now it is about grading by levels of suffering? How do you know how much someone else has suffered? Because you are racially and sexually profiling? Because you are bigot minded against white males? Especially straight white males.


In our society the advantages and privileges come in in certain areas. Upper class, money, stardom, fame, fortune, and connections. That is where privilege really lives.


I was privy to note this as a teenager. In my social world those who had homes and social ties to the mayor and the police and knew people who could keep them out of trouble did get a degree of privilege. But it was proportional to a lot of dynamics. But that was a small town, where everyone knew everyone and everything you did.


Go to the city where anonymity lives and no one cares who you are. You have to make an effort to rub elbows with the right people. That goes by class, and social standing, and education and most of all money.


To point at someone and say they have a privilege you know nothing about is absurd. It shows how damn clueless you are and how you demand to be given something based upon the idea that you are missing out on something you may ultimately want no part of.


Really, you want to be the one treating others like shit, and calling the shots. You want to be the one using your privilege to shout others down. and use bigotry. Because that seems to be what you are saying. “Give me power, because you have had it all this time, and don’t expect me to earn it, because I said so.”


Look at people like Obama, Oprah, 50cent, Look at people who are minorities and doctors, surgeons, pilots, firemen. Look at all the people who are busy making their way to the top, and not whining about privilege. What you are really saying is that you think society owes you something because you think you were kept from anything you want.


I don’t think society owes you anything you are not willing to fight for. And it is not in the name calling arena. It is in offices, and court battles, and the streets and protests and in hard work and rising above. It is not in the silencing of those who are your alis’. But then I saw about when a person is your Ali, and they are right up to the point they disagree with you one tiny bit and then fuck them, they are the enemy. Because people should not dare disagree with you, you are the victim, the eternal victim.


Atheists are all not privileged, so that means somewhere, somehow even those white straight guys get to face it. You know like when they are fired for being atheists, or when they are treated like dirt by family and former friends, but I bet you don’t care about that.


The most oppressed group among all of us is the black female lesbian atheist, if you are not her, then you have more privilege than her, and from there it goes up, so all of you have some privilege above her. Maybe it is time to start calling you on your white straight female privilege, or even your white gay female privilege because you have more than her. Why don’t we all just break down into a bunch of whiny childish self interested, self absorbed victims who constantly point fingers so nothing gets done but victimizing other people and abusing them, because until now, we feel they have not properly been abused, and should suffer, because misery loves company and the only way they can understand us is to suffer…who is up for mental slavery?


Or how about stop using the terminology in ways which demean us all. I am part Cherokee, German, Irish, and Mohawk. So go for trying to tell me where my privilege is. Tell me how wrong I am, and try to make it sound like I have no clue. But I will never forget my dad telling me what his friend said. “I hate those interracial couples and their halfbreed kids.” Yet I don’t feel like any kind of victim, because those words mean nothing, my skin means nothing. My intellect and strength mean everything and in a world where no one plays fair, I am not going to wait around pointing fingers to get my way. I will make it without dragging anyone down. And I will succeed because I am a winner and not because I used weak ass terms like privilege.


Privilege is getting things you didn’t earn and don’t deserve, based upon your social status, wealth and education.(And in cases lack there of, see Paris Hilton) Do not confound that with racism, sexism and bigotry against other sexualities.


Author: Rachel Johnson

I am a writer about atheist issues. Separation of the church and state. Women and their right to choose, and sex. I talk about all of the "taboos" of modern life as well as evolution and science.

16 thoughts on “What about the term Privilege don’t you get?

  1. For me it’s more about the pieces of evidence I don’t have due to a lack of experience that I would need to come to better conclusions on certain issues.

  2. Pecking order of privilege, when people wield undue power:
    3- western citizenship
    After that all privileges are relative, relative to one’s degree of narcissism.

  3. Response to your privilege post:

    I agree with your comments all the way up until the part about gays and lesbians. It is not that specifically that I disagree with but that’s where the divergence lies. To claim or implied that being black or anything but non whites in America does not have problems is simply incorrect.

    In 2006 Madison Wisconsin with go to the worst city in America to be black. If you are black you are 100 times more likely to get a prison sentence then a white person or a drug crime. If you are black you are 35 times more likely to get prison sentence then a white person for a non drug crime. Black people represent 5 percent of the Madison Wisconsin population but they represent 35 percent of the traffic stops.

    Because Obama was elected 2 years later does not mean that those racial inequality in the consequences suddenly disappeared.

    To somehow hold the idea that because Oprah is successful and Obama is President and therefore there is no longer any racial inequality in America is simply incorrect.

    You need only look at the latest laws in Arizona regarding the traffic stops for minorities if you look latino and you will realize that racial inequality still exists in large numbers. And that inequality has real world legal and other consequences, that some people do not have to face simply because they are white.

    I do agree that people should not bandy about the term of white privilege. But white privilege DOES exist.

  4. Too many people feel sorry for their self and are in the way. It never crosses their mind we all have to work together to change the world. There are few rich people in prison. Bernie Madoff stole from the rich and he has to pay. The million people who lost their homes will taste pepper spray if they complain. It’s a stacked deck and the poor can only bicker until they come together. Till we come together nothing happens.

  5. Look, I don’t agree with your fundamental argument that you shouldn’t use “privilege” as a way to shut someone up. We don’t know other people’s circumstances. It’s true. However, you got the concept of privilege completely wrong. I’m not trying to ignore whatever hardwork you have put in to get yourself to where you are today. I’m not trying to shut you up. I’m just pointing out that parts of your argument are extremely faulty. For you to say that you have no privilege, that’s absolutely, completely wrong.

    Privilege is something that’s not offered to a person on an individual basis. It’s offered to an entire group of people. Furthermore, it’s about more than being abused. It’s about the systematic boost a person gets in society that a person receives for reasons not related to a person’s merit, like sexuality, religion, and race.

    Contrary to your beliefs, you can be a poor straight white cis-gendered, heterosexual male and still enjoy privileges. For example, a poor straight white cis-gendered, heterosexual male will be much more likely to be hired for an average job than their minority counterparts in similar financial situations. Given the similar circumstances, why does the poor white man get the job, but the poor minority man doesn’t? What did the poor white man do that set him apart from the man of a minority race? He didn’t. He was given that chance because he is not a member of the minority, and thus perceived to actually “belong” in America. That’s a privilege.

    I’m not dismissing the fact that minorities can enjoy privileges, too. As a middle class Asian American queer woman, I enjoy the privilege of not being accosted by police when I am by myself in a bad neighborhood. I don’t have to deal with negative stereotype threat when taking standardized tests. As a (for the most part in the closet) non-monosexual, I face a lot less chance of being fired or harassment because I can pass as straight. I have privileges.

    In this world, where people are psychologically primed to judge each other using stereotypes and prejudices, certain societal privileges are inevitable and undeniable.

    • “Well now, isn’t that special.” 😀

      • Look, I never called you Donald Trump, or anything like that, but you do have privileges that people have for being white. Just like people have for being born middle class, or straight, or cis-gendered. Calling people out on their privilege isn’t always a game of finger pointing. It’s call to appreciate what you have by virtually what you were born with, and to deny otherwise is a slap in the face to every single minority who had to fight hard just to achieve the same basic human rights as the majorities.

        Also, have you considered that the poor minorities, just as unprivileged as the economically disadvantaged straight cis-gendered, heterosexual male, have to struggle just as much as he does, but in the end, by the virtue of his skin color, he will get a boost in the world that his fellow economically disadvantaged minority peers, who have probably worked just as hard, never will? That’s privilege, not the kind where Donald Trump gets when he gets a silver spoon in the mouth. That privilege is the one that people forget about, yet it affects more people than the Donald Trump privilege. You have it. I have it, too, for reasons other than my skin color or my sexual orientation. This kind of privilege pervades in our society and makes it easy for people to deny that racism and privilege still exists, yet it still drives the way in which our society works, from presidential elections to job hiring at a local McDonalds. At the end of the day, it’s the kind of privilege that hurts the most.

        • No he won’t, have you noticed there are many many white people, and ultimately white doesn’t mean fuck if you can’t do better than the guy next to you.

          Being white in America is no longer the golden ticket for everything.

          But hey, when entrenched, stay in it for the long haul, because when your life is over and you accomplished nothing by bitching about some privilege you think all white people have, and suddenly we can’t get two groups to do any fucking thing together or unite for any cause…hope you still like your trench.

      • Clearly, an adroit display of honestly engaging an argument. Bravo! It’s not everyone who can feel comfortable riffing on a decades-old SNL character quote to address a serious concern with their boorish opinion! Some would call it hacky, but I say it only gets funnier with distance from Dana Carvey in the ’80s!

        Seriously though, there’s a great deal of academic and non-academic writing on the subject. Why not try familiarizing yourself and actually addressing real arguments instead of attempting poor analogies, strawmanning, using anecdotes and making bald-faced assertions? Before you accuse others of “not knowing” what they’re talking about, if you think the concept of “privilege” is some linear compartmentalization rather than a complex view of power differentials between a variety of communities that shift with geopolitical and economic changes over time, then the ignorant one may be the person who can’t see how silly it is to be vociferous about atheists being mistreated (in a religiously privileged society) despite the Bill Mahers, Penn Jillettes and Brad Pitts of the world (almost as lucky as that Obama fella and that Oprah lady!). May as well misquote Darwin at us while you’re at it and claim the structure of the eye proves evolution didn’t happen!

        As an aside, Ray Comfort apparently writes in a more coherent and stylistically sophisticated manner than this blog post, which is a shame. However, you both have dishonestly addressing counter-arguments going for you. Come to think of it, in this light, you quoting the “Church Lady” does seem pretty apropos.

        As for the ‘silencing of those who are your (sic)alis’, I think Martin Luther King had something to say about such bewilderingly clueless allies:

        “I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

        If you think making fun of “rednecks” and Klansmen is enough to get you in good with your minority friends, and if this post is your concept of being an “ally”, I’m perfectly fine with those communities not pursuing such an alliance.

        Sha-wing! (see what I did there?) 😀

        • Isn’t that special. I don’t expect anything, except those who don’t know me to make brass assumptions. And you did, but at least you got the Saturday Night Live thing, bravo.

          You know my favorite though was the land shark….about pissed myself laughing.

          Oh and I never said there is no racism, or problems, just that you can quit your bitching and actually work on the problem or blame alli’s for why you don’t have a better life.

          And stop reading my wall posts of you are so irked by me. I make fun of everything which is stupid.

          Also I am Native American, so want to tell me about my ancestors, want to tell me about who doesn’t have privilege? We were the last ones considered American, hunted like dogs, slaughtered in droves.

          But my blaming white and calling them privileged does exactly what? Does it end poverty on the reservation? Will it bring back the pride my people once had?


          But what will is moving on with our lives, becoming stronger, educating the children and taking back the power and money from anyone else.

  6. I’m sick and tired of this camp mentality.

    So there’s one camp, let’s call them the denialist camp, that says, “I don’t see a problem with racism/sexism/etc, so stop whining about it, or else you’ll be a drama queen.” And then there’s the other camp, let’s call them the dogmatic camp, that says, “You must recognize every personal exerience every member of our camp has had as a manifestation of racism/sexism/etc, but under no circumstances do anything concrete about it, because minorities/women/etc are not responsible for stopping racism/sexism/etc, and if you don’t accept all that on pure faith, you’ll be an evil oppressor.” Both positions are completely irrational and quite frankly unworthy of people who call themselves “Atheists” (or even just “atheists”).

    What you’re doing here, is nothing but pseudo-rational apologetics for indifference, just as your friends from the other camp constantly spew out pseudo-rational justifications for their dogmatism. So privilege doesn’t exist? Really? You can’t see how a lack of daily experience with a certain issue – which would force you to examine and reexamine it constantly – might cause you to overlook key aspects of it? You can’t see how that may lead you to take a problem less seriously, while those affected by it simply can’t afford to do so? You can’t see that it takes a lot of careful observation and analysis to compensate for this lack of direct experience, and how a superficial glance at it just won’t do the trick?

    The privilege argument says, you neither have the experience nor have you done the necessary research to understand the issue at hand. The fact that some people sometimes, or even often, misuse it to brush aside legitimate objections, doesn’t alter its validity. If you claim to be a rational individual, you can be expected to examine such things on a case-by-case basis. Trust me, I have my own war wounds when it comes to self-righteous, white, middle-class feminists. But that doesn’t invalidate everything they say a priori.

    The point is, in this specific case, the person you appear to be defending did argue from a position of privilege. Not just because he’s white, male, straight and cisgendered, but because of that and IN ADDITION, he didn’t do his homework, and IN ADDITION, he showed no signs of willingness to do his homework. That is what privilege means in this context: being in a better position that someone else with respect to a certain issue, and holding on to the aloof perspective this gives you, while refusing to lower yourself to the point of view of those less fortunate than you. Because of his aloof perspective, the individual in question wasn’t even willing to consider the possibility that there might be factors which would justify the behavior of the person he attacked. He passed judgement on her based on a poor understanding of the situation, and without making an honest effort to gain that understanding. What he did was as intellectually dishonest as saying, “I don’t care how logical your evolution stuff seems to you, monkeys exist and that kills your theory. Period. No closer examination necessary.”

    • What you have here is an Equivocation, all white people have privilege because they were born white.
      Then I might as well be Donald Trump. “Well now isn’t that special.” And then I smile and walk away.

      • Please understand the difference in meaning between “having a privilege” (singular) and “observing or acting from a position of privilege” (innumerable). White Americans generally lack the experience of being marginalized on account of real or imagined group attributes in a society that’s still segregated to a considerable extent. You don’t even have to be African American to experience that. I didn’t imagine those high school experiences where some white boy got his math problem wrong, and it was “come on, you can do better, try again”, whereas whenever I (or any other colored student) got it wrong, the question would go back to the white boy (because teachers automatically lowered their expectations for a somewhat brownish skinned girl vs. the white boy, which made any kind of encouragement or second chances superfluous). You may call this an isolated incident. The problem is, these supposedly isolated incidents – and this was one of the more harmless ones – are so pervasive and occur with such frequency for so many people, that they give rise to a very real and concrete collective experience of marginalization. With respect to this particular issue, white people who make no effort to understand the perspective that results from this collective experience, do indeed operate from a position of privilege.

        In the particular incident we’re talking about (let’s not beat around the bush), Mr. Eberhard made the dogmatic, unfounded assumption, that just because nothing in his personal experience justified the incident he observed at that conference, the same had to be true for the general case. If he had made the effort to understand the perspective of the person he attacked (and to do that, he would have had to understand the circumstances that informed her perspective first), he would have known that the trigger for this incident had absolutely nothing to do with mere ignorance. The question asked during that conference did not come from ignorance. It wouldn’t even be a valid question unless it was asked from an underlying attitude of bigotry and segregationism. In fact, it wasn’t a question. It was very much an assertion with a decorative question mark at the end.

        Why? Because that “question” implicitly assumes that there is such a thing as “black-on-black” crime which is somehow distinct from other crime, and that African Americans have a responsibility to do something about it. The problem is they can’t. Because crime is a universal phenomenon that happens for the same reasons and with the same motives, regardless of who’s the perpetrator and who’s the victim, and only society as a whole can solve the problem. Yet this attitude assigns responsibility for finding a solution to African Americans, and consequently assigns the blame for failing to live up to that supposed responsibility to them as well. And this is where it becomes dangerous and a threat to the well-being of human beings in the real world. That’s not some paranoid hysteria. It has happened to minorities all around the world, countless times. And it is happening at this very moment. Members of my own ethnic group are being attacked by mobs in some parts of the world, precisely as a result of the exact same attitude expressed in that woman’s so-called “question”.

        African Americans are very much aware of this. To them, for the concrete reasons I just gave, such questions aren’t merely insults, they ultimately carry a threat which, again, has materialized in the real world many times. Such a threat warrants an act of self-defense. Not in the form of physical violence, of course, because the attack was merely verbal. But in the form of an “outburst”, yes, absolutely. If Mr. Eberhard had made an honest effort to educate himself, he would have understood this. Instead, he chose to judge someone without either the personal experience or the acquired information, which would qualify him to make such a judgement. That’s what privilege means in this context.

        • So it is not okay to assign certain things to black people, but the reverse is true? Assigning privilege without noting actual privilege, got ya…..

          I don’t care what color you are, that’s bullshit.

  7. Excuse me for not responding sooner but I’ve been out of town a couple times and only now looked back in. I was at that convention and up front, everybody who was not there doesn’t know what they are talking about. In fact some of the people who were there may be confused. I’m willing to kick it around so let‘s go. All you philosophers who speak much about nothing say something to me. Anyone not there doesn’t know any of the words exchanged. They don’t know the timing or tone of voice. They don’t know any of the circumstances yet they have it all figured out because they are skeptics? Please give me a break. Some of the most narrow minded people I have ever met in my life call themselves skeptics.

    The question from the white woman to the black woman revolved around what can an organized black Atheist organization do to fill the void the church has never filled in regards to black on black crime. That was a legitimate non racist question. It could have been bumped up a notch by asking what can an African American Atheist group do to help people better understand what we all can do to move it forward. Right? I mean forget Jefferson Davis and Stalin and Nixon OK. Forget the past and realize we have to work together. I am concerned about rich on poor crime. I’m an out Atheist in a small town and when people give me the finger driving down the street it’s not because I’m white. I’m not privileged because I’m white. My poor European parents could not afford to send me to college and I resent children who probably never worked a day in their lives telling me I am privileged because I am white? The deindustrialization of Amerika is all about economics. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer as the middle class disappears. Skin color is peripheral more so now than ever and I know that will be confusing for some. All of you who think racism is the disease are the problem. All of you who think sexism is the disease are confused. Racism and sexism are symptoms of the disease. Infinite economic growth on a finite planet is a dead end street. Wake up and work together, ignore confused philosophers. Confused philosophers are in the way, if they want to clarify surplus value we can move the debate forward. Otherwise we have to look at the past and remain puppets.

    Ask any psychiatrist and they’ll tell you not to dwell on what you can not change. None of us can change the past therefore to dwell on the past is confusion. There are some self professed philosophers online who tout racism as the disease and they’re spreading confusion. They’ll have to be a little more specific. Which racism? If you ask a Zionist Jew they’ll tell you they are the most discriminated race on the planet because they are gods chosen people, right? As Israel grinds the life out of the Palestinian people we all have to understand the Warsaw Ghetto is now called the Gaza Strip. After 9/11, we have all been told to understand Arabic people are the new enemy and obviously the Persians are next in line. Should we dwell on the past or should we unite to confront the war profiteers in D.C.? All the online philosophers who profess racism and sexism are the disease are confused. Let’s talk about macroeconomics so everyone will understand who is confused. Right? Let’s go. Who of you are agents of ignorance? Tell me why I am wrong.

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