In past posts and comments, I have railed against the idea of privilege in this country. My main problem is that, though they are not perfect, we have laws that protect and provide. Also, certain individuals or groups put an adjective in front of the word privilege and use it to fight against those with whom they disagree. For instance, Christian privilege is one of those terms. Some claim Christian privilege because this nation celebrates Christian holidays. ( I might remind everyone that that’s because the nation was founded on Christian principles.) Christians in this nation and around the world are under increasing attack. I could cite many examples where Christians are oppressed in the name of providing religious freedom for others and simply because they are Christians, but that’s not the thrust of this post.
As I did research for a project, I merely wanted to shine the light on oppressed women in third world countries but I could not avoid the idea of privilege. I could not avoid the truth that in some of these places, privilege is the root of oppression. I have come to believe (and maybe this is not so profound or original to others) that privilege stems from those with power. To me, that’s significant because I see a negative connotation in the current usage of the word privilege and I don’t think it has to be that way. Privilege is not necessarily a bad thing. Using the word “power” makes it more reasonable for me.
When I look at Afghanistan which has in the past, and still does to some extent, embraced hardline Islam and its patriarchal culture. Women and children suffer under male control of the cultural, social, and economic institutions, and I readily see how privilege, or the power retained by men, oppresses. I can’t argue with that.
In India, with Mumbai as one of the worst areas, human trafficking is prevalent. That and the caste system oppresses women. In both examples of these third world countries, the women have no power. they have no voice or means to withstand male domination. That’s not to say that there aren’ those who are trying to equalize power for them, but the chasm is wide between the powerful and the powerless, the poverty-stricken and the privileged. There is much to be done.
That’s why I have a problem with expending our energies on ourselves. How dare we sit here in our air-conditioned homes and offices with full bellies and overlook the rest of the world, We are given power to see what we’ll do with it – use it for good or for out selfish concerns.