Privilege – This is my hubby’s favourite word right now. He’s using it in a positive way, daily (almost obsessively), to remind himself that it is indeed a privilege to be alive. Having challenges and frustrations means he is breathing and has the privilege to come up against the quotidian joys of living on this plane at this time. He has the privilege to run his own business, to employ 30+ people, the privilege to pay tax to help keep the country running.
Make no mistake, my hubby (and I!) desperately need a vacation. After nearly 12 months of working 6, sometimes 7 days a week with some very special challenges, (once again, first-world-struggles but struggles nonetheless) he is listening to podcasts on his commute to remind himself to keep going. If you see him out and about, he’ll be muttering ‘It’s a Privilege’ like a loon. I’d think it was sad if I wasn’t so damn proud of him. He’s practicing self-care through positive self-talk!
Okay, I’m about to get all political and ranty….you’ve been warned!
For me, like many others who keep abreast of the news or go anywhere near Twitter, the word privilege has different connotations. White privilege is most certainly a thing in Western countries, and even some non-European cultures. The only people saying it’s not a thing seem to be some of those who have benefitted from it, not all of course, but definitely a vocal minority. Why isn’t it brutally obvious to everyone that having light skin in this country makes life considerably easier?
How about this Australian politician who urged people over the weekend to intentionally overload the power-grid with air-conditioning etc to prove once and for all that ‘renewables don’t work’. If a non-white person, politician or otherwise, had released such a statement (by video) they would have been locked up and charged with terrorism. This isn’t her first stunt; she has built a dubious career on racism and ignorance so no one was really surprised by her video, but the privilege she is afforded by being white is breathtaking.
Then there’s Male privilege. Geez, don’t even get me started on this! I grew up in a house with 6 blokes! That was bad enough and they were 6 good blokes!
During 2018, like millions of other people around the world, I was obsessed with The Teacher’s Pet podcast, the true story of the disappearance of Lynette Dawson. If you haven’t listened, check it out because it is gobsmacking. On January 9, 1982, a young mother disappeared, just vanished, without money, a car, spare clothes or even her wedding rings, let alone her two little girls. A day later, her husband moved his 17-year-old ex-student lover into the family home, and Lyn’s bed. A couple of years later they married, using Lyn’s wedding and engagement rings…
The story is shocking but the police didn’t seem worried about looking for Lyn. You imagine if this happened today! The first thing the cops do is dismantle the partner’s life to see if they can rule him out, but no one even bothered to visit the house! This wasn’t just male privilege; it was ‘star-football-player’ privilege. The police simply bought his story that she had run away with a religious sect. Australians were terrified of religious sects in the 70s and 80s, often for good reason. (see The Family…shudder)
Consider this; just 24 days after Lyn Dawson disappeared without a trace, another woman was being ordered to stand trial for the murder of her child. The DPP said Lyn’s husband couldn’t stand trial as they hadn’t found a body, but Lindy Chamberlain was convicted and jailed for the murder of her baby even though there was no body. Once again with the insinuation that Lindy was a suspect because she was in a religious sect. It’s like the witch trials all over again.
Now you might think I’m reaching a little here, but the timeline struck me as coincidental. Why didn’t anyone look for Lyn Dawson? Why was Lindy jailed, even though she was later found innocent? Nowadays, stories of dingoes and feral dogs taking or attempting to take children are widely acknowledged. It’s because the misogyny that we are attempting to dismantle now was unquestioned in 1982. It sickens me that rape within marriage only became a criminal offense in 1994 in Queensland (with some strong opposition! wtf) I was a wife in 1993. Why weren’t we told that we were second class citizens? But then we should have known, society was always letting us know in no uncertain terms. (Listen to Senator Sarah Hanson Young interviewed by Mia Freedman about what it’s like for women in Australian politics. Spoiler alert; it’s not easy.)
So when my hubby talks about how privileged he is to be breathing oxygen, I think that I too am privileged to be alive and writing in an age when women have a voice, even though we sometimes have to shout to be heard.