Majority Privilege

We came across this statement yesterday - it was part of a response from Bioware to complaints from straight male customers about male characters in the new Dragon Age game flirting with them (full response here) - and we both thought it was fantastic:

And if there is any doubt why such an opinion might be met with hostility, it has to do with privilege. You can write it off as “political correctness” if you wish, but the truth is that privilege always lies with the majority. They’re so used to being catered to that they see the lack of catering as an imbalance. They don’t see anything wrong with having things set up to suit them, what’s everyone’s fuss all about? That’s the way it should be, any everyone else should be used to not getting what they want.

This paragraph is referring specifically male and heterosexual privilege, but it can be easily applied to any majority segment of the population. Majority privilege is something really difficult to see when you’re actually a part of the majority, but that only makes it more important to be aware of. In the US today the White, Male, Heterosexual and Christian demographics enjoy majority status and are very resistant to minorities that challenge their privileged status. I can already hear many of the arguments against this (we’ve both made some of them before), because those in the majority don’t like being told that they have enjoyed undeserved privilege at the expense of others, or that not everything should be catered to their preferences.

This problem naturally persists when one group’s majority status is replaced by another. The former minority had to tolerate being ignored or repressed for so long, that they see it as a matter of course to act in the same manner. Right now atheists are a minority in this country and most atheists that I have talked to have a wonderful view on human equality and a philosophy that “You should be allowed to do whatever you want to, as long as it doesn’t interfere with my ability to do whatever I want to.” If we ever become the majority, we need to be hyper-aware of how we shape society and actually implement our Humanist principles to work for equality for all instead of just making ourselves the new privileged class.

Never stop questioning in search of reason,

Valerie and Mike


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