What is Privilege?

My understanding of privilege is that it is a special right or advantage bestowed upon a person or group of people. The concept of privilege is paramount to understanding gender roles in society. After transitioning to a woman Serano emphasizes not the dramatic changes physically to her body but instead how people interacted with it. In our patriarchal society men and women alike too readily accept that it is a man’s privilege to sexualize a woman’s body. Ironically when women proceed to play into the role of a sex object they are no longer ‘valuable’. Essentially, a women’s acceptance of her sexuality is taboo whilst a man’s sexual prowess is an entitlement and is actively encouraged. Controversy was generated this year when Georgetown student Sandra Fluke gave a speech to the house democrats in support of mandating insurance coverage for contraceptives. This prompted Rush Limbaugh to obscenely refer to Fluke as a ‘slut’ and a ‘prostitute’. Whilst he is not oblivious to the fact that sexually transmitted diseases endanger the lives of millions of men and women each year he also knows it is his privilege to provide social commentary on the sexual behavior of college women.

Julia Serano, “Whipping Girl” 22

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