We all have hardship in our lives from time to time. But there are certain things that can make things harder for certain groups of people, on top of the day-to-day issues that everyone encounters. For example:

  • Illness
  • Disabilities
  • Discrimination
  • Poverty

If we don’t suffer from a certain disadvantage, then we are in a better position than someone who does, and that can be described as having a privilege over people in that group.

It’s important to realise that this can be complex – an individual may be privileged in one way – e.g. they are wealthy – but disadvantaged in others – e.g. they have a disability.

You may hear someone say something like “your privilege is showing” and this usually means that the person has said or done something that takes for granted the benefits they have over one of these disadvantaged groups.

For example, let’s imagine I make a post on social media saying something like this:

Ugh why are people so angry about the lift being broken?? Stop being lazy and take the stairs!!

In doing so, I would have overlooked the fact that some people don’t have this option – perhaps they are in a wheelchair, or weak from illness – I was taking for granted the privilege I have.

The easiest advantages to overlook are those that we were born with, like race and gender. A white, cis-gender male might go through his life thinking “I’ve never really seen racism or sexism as a problem”.  That would be overlooking that fact that, wrong as it is, other racial groups and genders may well experience prejudice or even abuse as a result of racism or sexism.


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