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Unformatted text preview: White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences Through Work in Women’s Studies Peggy McIntosh Peggy McIntosh compares privileges of being white with male privilege. Both are protected by being denied. Those possessing such privileges, in particular, are taught not to recognize them as such. She lists 46 types of circumstances in which white skin is an unearned advantage. She also lists 8 areas in which being heterosexual is an (unearned) social asset, like white skin in being taken for granted by persons so advantaged. McIntosh is Associate Director of the Center for Research on Women at Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA. Reading Questions 1. Think of some everyday situations where you are advantaged/disadvantaged by race or class. Then compare your list with McIntosh's. What were the highlights of this comparison? 2. Think of some everyday situations in which you are advantaged/disadvantaged by sexual orientation (homosexual or heterosexual). How do your experiences in this area compare with those mentioned by McIntosh? THROUGH WORK to bring materials and perspectives from Women’s Studies into the rest of the curriculum, I have often noticed men’s unwillingness to grant that they are overprivileged in the curriculum, even though they may grant that women are disadvantaged. Denials that amount to taboos surround the subject of advantages that men gain from women’s disadvantages. These denials protect male privilege from being fully recognized, acknowledged, lessened, or ended. Thinking through unacknowledged male privilege as a phenomenon with a life of its own, I realized that since hierarchies in our society are interlocking, there was most likely a phenomenon of white privilege that was similarly denied and protected, but alive and real in its effects. As a white person, I realized I had been taught about racism as something that puts others at a disadvantage, but had been taught not to see one of its corollary aspects, white privilege, which puts me at an advantage. I think whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege, as males are taught not to recognize male privilege. So I have begun in an untutored way to ask what it is like to have white privilege. This paper is a partial record of my personal observations and not a scholarly analysis. It is based on my daily experiences within my particular circumstances. I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was “meant” to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, assurances, tools, maps, guides, code-books, passports, visas, clothes, compass, emergency gear, and blank checks....
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- Spring '09
- women’s studies