But empires do not continue based on malice, they are built on and subside on privilege. The overlooked ways in which we all contribute to keeping the status quo in place. The Human Centipede that has us fat Americans at the front of it and everybody else on Earth supplying the blood and misery that keeps our lives fun and frisky and full of iPads. Institutionalized racism is baked into the cake, misogyny and sexism are baked into the cake. And anybody who tells you that things are fair, that we have Obama now in the post-racial era, that the Paul Ryan budget gives everybody a fair shot at bootstrapping themselves or whatever it is, they're benefiting. Which is why it looks fair to them. Because they're not bad people -- they're not lynching black guys or bashing fags, they're not physically abusing women -- so when you question their privilege, what they hear is you accusing them of something they are not actually guilty of.
Because certain self-victimhood factions, both online and in real life, have turned these discussions and definitions of privilege into a dog whistle -- a way of calling somebody a racist without actually doing it -- which is the opposite of healthy, or contributing to meaningful change. Privilege isn't something to be ashamed of, it's something to be aware of. You have to understand the part you play in the world, and that means understanding that gravity pulls down on each and every one of us -- Rihanna and Chris Brown and you and me and Rush Limbaugh and these rich gay white dudes -- and that each and every one of us is given different tools to relieve that pressure. Straight white rich dudes, they have the most. Birth control moved (white) ladies nearer to the top, for the first time in all of human history, then ever before. Everybody fights over who has the least, because at some point we got sold the idea that being a victim is glamorous and bitching is the new bragging.
None of that shit matters. At all. In fact, you can leave out racists and homophobes and actual misogynists altogether, because their opinions don't matter. They are not part of this conversation. They are not invited to this conversation. And once you've gotten rid of them, what's left? The privilege. Skinny people telling fat people how to diet. "They can say the n-word all they want, but..." Male feminists offering women advice on feminism. Straight people telling me how to be a gay man, straight people having discussions about my personhood right in front of me. White people who don't "see race." White people who feel screwed by Affirmative Action. Saying that calling somebody a racist or bigot or homophobe or bully is every bit as hateful and hurtful as actually being those things, that's a favorite of mine. That boycotting Chik-Fil-A is essentially committing financial terrorism against Christianity, remember that?