The Concept of Privilege - A Rant.

Tonberry

New member
Obligations are definitely something to consider. Not just with children (who are obligations generally shared with a partner, and as a result can lead to spending more time with a partner than another) but also parents or other family members who might be sick, or a very demanding job, etc. These can mean you're less available.

I think it's fine to have obligations and doesn't make you "undateable" whether you're single or not. But you need to be pretty clear about what the obligations are from the get go, and to understand that some people might struggle with it, or need more intimacy during the time that you do have time for them.
I think as long as you communicate and try to see things from each other's point of view, things should be fine. An advantage of polyamory is that is you are very busy and cannot see a partner often, you can still have quality time with them when you're available, and when you aren't they might have other partners around. If they're mono or only have you as a partner at the moment, they might feel neglected.

I think obligations can still be perks: children require responsibility and work, BUT generally they also provide joy. Same with other friends or family members, they presumably provided something in your life as well and you're doing your share of giving back. And a job might be demanding, but it feeds you and keeps you healthy.
BUT generally, despite the fact that they usually have perks attached, obligations are still easier to understand, and don't make you an asshole by default.

What I mean is that if you don't take care of your children, or of a dependent adult, they might very well die. If you don't work hard at your job, you'll get fired, lose your source of income and starve. There are real consequences that can lead up to, in the most extreme cases, actual death.
In contrast, if someone says "we are married, therefore in any argument, we will side with each other", they might justify it as "protecting their marriage" and imagine horrible consequences to one day siding with their girlfriend or boyfriend, but really, the worse that would happen is an argument where people actually speak their mind. And that's not on the same level as abandoning your children or letting everyone down at a job that depends on you.

So when people have obligations, it's definitely important to take care of them. On the other hand, it's good to keep in mind that your girlfriend, for instance, is not responsible for the fact that you have children, nor does she get the same benefits from them as you do, unless she's already a primary. Maybe she would want her own children with you and it's impossible. So this can still be a privilege you had, to have children with that first partner because it's socially acceptable, when the second partner doesn't have the same option. Sometimes even if the married couple has no children and they want some, and there is a girlfriend who also wants some, it seems to go without saying that the wife can get pregnant but the girlfriend isn't allowed to, ever, even after years together.
It's good to look at it and keep in mind that it could be about privilege.

People might say "if I have a child with my girlfriend and people realise we're poly, the kids might be taken away from us". Yes, it's true. And that's still privilege. A mono couple has the privilege of not getting their kids taken away. As I said, a privilege sometimes really is something that everyone should get to enjoy.
If you refuse to be out because you don't want your kids taken away from you, it's absolutely a reasonable decision. BUT it still means that your non-official partner has to hide so that you can keep your privilege. And that doesn't make you a bad person, but it sucks, and it's good to at least know and understand that.

I think people usually understand that the whole issue with "privilege" isn't about the person who have it, but the whole of society treating some people as second-class citizens. I think one big deal is to acknowledge that your partner is being treated as a second-class citizen, because you hide them, because you're afraid of also being treated as a second class citizen if you didn't hide them.
 

BoringGuy

Banned
It seems that the idea of couple privilege is being married to the idea of bad behaviour, but to unify the two as though they belong together doesn't jive with me.

OK... This is going to look like I'm trying to distract from the real topic, but I have reasons why I'm focusing on this: what do you mean "is being" married...etc. I'm specifically asking about the "is being" part, I understand the use of the word "married" in this context is not referring to the "married couple". But when you use "is being" it's kind of removed and wishy-washy like when someone says "the gun went off and someone got shot". Please qualify this "is being". Who specifically, is doing this? "people" on this forum? Which people? In what context? I believe there is enough "evidence", anecdotal and circumstantial, to support a valid argument from either side of the issue. Therefore, if your intention is to persuade others (and I have to assume that the purpose of this thread is not simply for self-reflection, but for the exchange of different points of view), then you need to set up the premise of your argument with clearly defined parameters.


So when did people start associating one with the other? And how does couple privilege go from a recognition to an inflammatory term?

Again - what "people"? All people? Some people? Some of the people all of the time? All of the people some of the time? These are not trick questions. But, of course, you don't have to do this MY way...


I think the 'holier than thou' attitude has got to be removed to prevent alienation within the poly community.

There is no "the" poly community. Please define the subset. Please define what "community" means in this context. The people who live in my zip code are a sort of "community", but we don't have a section of town where all the poly people have their own zip code. The "online poly community"? There could be more than one "poly community" on the internet, and there are people who would argue that there is no such thing. The "community" that is sometimes perceived to be this forum? Craigs List? OK Cupid?

Once the parameters are established, perhaps it will be possible to have a coherent, productive discussion about this. This is not meant to be a critique on your writing style (well, it would be if you were writing a research paper), or the merit of the ideas contained therein.



OTOH, if it's just about stream-of-consciousness writing, then I can deal with that and just skim over those posts.
 

hyperskeptic

New member
If you refuse to be out because you don't want your kids taken away from you, it's absolutely a reasonable decision. BUT it still means that your non-official partner has to hide so that you can keep your privilege. And that doesn't make you a bad person, but it sucks, and it's good to at least know and understand that.

Yes. The question I've been wrestling with is whether I can live with possibly being the source or agent or conduit or occasion of suckage for another person. For my own part, I don't know if I can live with this.

At the very least, though, awareness of the likelihood of suckage should serve to keep those of us who are married and poly humble and mindful.

The ones to look out for -the "jerks" in BP's terminology - are the ones who aren't even aware of the possibility that getting what they waaaant may put another person in a situation that basically sucks.
 

hyperskeptic

New member
So date without shame! And share your love - just because it can't be 'equal' doesn't mean that you're not going to bring your same, amazing qualities that make you who you are to another person in a meaningful way. Be honest about what you have to offer, and let others decide if it's right for them.

Yes, but honesty is the hard part because I have to be honest with myself, first, about what I really have to offer and what I may reasonably expect.

Letting others decide for themselves is the key, of course, but I shouldn't be surprised or outraged or hurt or offended if no one chooses to accept what I have to offer.
 
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redpepper

New member
We have been discussing this at length in the FB group I admin. For me it has come down to practicalities and how to move on knowing that I and others are privileged. In a sense I prefer to move away from the word and look at what to do with that knowledge.

When a couple goes out to find suitable partners I think that its important to have the discussion of how to create a balance; a win win situation for all. Couples should realize that they are entering into a relationship dynamic with privileges and do everything in their power to even that up so everyone wins.

In some cases hierarchies exist that work. At least they "look" like hierarchies from the outside but on the inside they are a creation of primary secondary that works for all. The secondary, knowing that the couple would usually have privilege, has just as much privilege as the couple because they are all in agreement within their arrangement. This concept flies in the face of what we usually want to believe about couples and their privilege. Is it really couple privilege if everyone in the dynamic is getting their needs met and has that privilege of being happy with their dynamic? Just because on the outside it looks different to others?

I think that some, if not most couples come into poly knowing they are privileged and wanting to work with others to make sure that is in check. Its an obvious I think. At least it becomes so pretty fast and I think that people generally have peoples best interest in mind. Especially when it comes to love and care for someone they are partnered with. If they don't then I would wonder where the love is and whether or not its what has become commonly known as poly.
 

BoringGuy

Banned
n a sense I prefer to move away from the word and look at what to do with that knowledge.

When a couple goes out to find suitable partners

I like the "action-oriented" approach you suggest. It reminds me of something I used to suggest to people on a forum I used to moderate. there were some people who would complain that certain users had more "privilege" than others, in terms of the content of their posts, and when I'd ask them what they suggest be done about it, they would be all "Gee I'm not sure". To me, it seemed like just another way of trying to discredit someone via an ad-hominem method, when you can't really find anything wrong with their argument other than the fact that it doesn't align with your own.

To that end, one thing people can "do", which is often suggested in conjunction with advice given to "unicorn hunters" is to not date as a couple. Date separately, then take it from there. This is so often suggested on this site and elsewhere and is so often answered with, "but we agreed this is something we want to do TOGETHER. We are one person romantically, etc. etc." and on and on with a litany about how they THOUGHT about this for a LONG TIME and they KNOW this is what they want, we are all so unique, so special, we are the all-singing, all-dancing crap-of-the-world (that's from Fight Club, not from the fabulous Yours Truly™ this time)...

Is it REALLY that mysterious where the bizarre notion of "couple privilege" comes from? It shouldn't be, now that it's been spelled out for everyone yet again. Except this time I gave a suggestion, albeit not a new or original one, about something that can be DONE, I actually ANSWERED one of redpepper's questions, instead of trying to create a smokescreen about why her questions don't make sense or are irrelevant.

I invite others to outdo me.
 
Specifics.

BG - you remind me of my ex, who used to always say, "Quantify your statements!" He was very into precise language as well, and I respect that.

The communities that I speak of largely exist online, as that is where I see the greatest amount of resources and writing about poly; discussion forums and online chat groups, blogs and articles. If you google "couple privilege polyamory" you will be met with pages of links, many of which mention 'unicorn hunting' and 'couple privilege' within a hairwidth of each other. I speak from a place of having done a lot of reading, conversing and listening, and I have seen a marked growth in using the term 'couple privilege' in a way that has inherently negavite connotations.

Does this define everyone's poly community - not necessarily. But there's RP saying that people in her facebook group are discussing it, I have seen it in my local chapter for poly meetups, and I've even had it volleyed at me by someone that I was dating.

Does that answer your question? If not, let me know - always happy to explain thoughts/reasoning.
 
Privileges?

Well, I guess I believe they are just like everything else that unless examined, as Natja mentioned they has somewhere discussed as unexamined (he?She? which is the reason for "they has" instead of "he has" or "she has" sorry Natja I don't recall reading of your gender) as being similar or the same meaning as
Emm said:
The word privilege, as it's usually used in these conversations, is rarely about the actions of the person observed to hold it but rather about how those around the person (or in this case couple) treat them.

If I were a man in my current job (military), I would have the privilege of knowing that when I walk into a meeting at least 90% of the other attendees will be of the same gender as me (I've been keeping a tally in my diary). When I need to speak to others at a similar level of authority I would have the privilege of knowing that I would be dealing with someone of my own gender. When I start a new job in a new office I would have the privilege of knowing that I will be judged by my actions rather than my appearance. If I were to become angry that my instructions to a subordinate weren't being followed and expressed my displeasure I would have the privilege of knowing that nobody would make jokes about menstrual cycles. When a new item of uniform clothing is issued I would have the privilege of knowing that it was designed to fit my body shape (seriously, I don't know what they measured when designing our old shorts, but it wasn't a human female).

None of that says that a male in my position is in any way lording it over me that he's male and I'm not or that he feels entitled to more respect than I get, but he's starting from a position of comfort that I'll never know. The fact that he has never asked to be treated any differently doesn't reduce the fact that, simply by being a male officer rather than a female officer, he is demonstrably treated differently in countless ways every day.

In the case of couple privilege, it exists whether the people in the couple use it to fuel their sense of entitlement or not. When an outsider assumes that the members of a couple will act a certain way and makes room for that to happen without friction then that's couple privilege in action. By asking people to examine their privilege nobody's saying that they should reject it out of hand or feel guilty about it, just that they should realise that not everyone has the same advantages.

I believe an unexamined privilege if experienced by a person who is likely to cross the lines of abuse or unjust ways of having said privilege, that privilege is a freedom taken for granted. Freedoms that are taken for granted AND being distributed with equity are fastracted to be lost.

For example, no married couple should feel the least bit guilty about having power of attorney in regards to having authority to execute decisions as the couple in the event of sickness or death, married people should feel no guilt about being able to add the those they are committed with to insurance policies, or tax breaks, committed people shouldn't feel guilty about any of the privileges they benefit from which are gained from a high level of commitment called marriage.

But heres the thing, much like Erik Kuehnelt-Leddihn essay written in the 80s, and the excerpt that was edited in 2013 to add the wording just and unjust discrimination (which I think he wrote about on a forum giving us a hint of the edit to come, but I can't find it as he must have deleted it knowing he was using it in a publication for profit elsewhere) the thing is about privilege, you should only feel no shame if you are not engaging in unjust benefits from said privilege.

An example of unjust privilege would be to deny others their privileges for the equal commitments. More clearly defined by the unjust privilege laws that are the agenda of "the defense of marriage act"

To go so far as to actively persue, or worse labor for the injustice to become written into LAW that the privileged be unjustly awarded, you have absolutely have no right whatsoever to those privileges

This is fact, according to the 50 states standards of what constitutes the union of marriage.

Now those who back DOMA won't agree and they are wrong, I can't change that


However, if gay committed couples by their own choice, free from extortions or manipulations declined their benefits, that is not injustice, and married couples could without a doubt benefit from their non-declined privileges without one iota of shame

Exactly in the same manner a unicorn could voluntarily enter any sort of relationship they desire with the a privileged couple, and the unicorn's polyship with THE COUPLE can be as free from shame as Freedom can be imagined, no matter what some other jealous couple attempts to afflict the shameless couple with a content and satisfied hot bi babe.

yes many people have been suffered severe emotional pain due to entering relationships riddled with either misunderstandings or ignorance, but it doesn't mean that others can't do it shamelessly and justly

In the manner exactly the same as a bigoted married couple could also be shameless if each and every gay married couple freely chose to decline their privileges

bigots who would seek to benefit from privileges they exclude from qualifying married people will also be excluded from the benefits of marriage as that is being an agent of injustice

poly people who afflict perfectly knowledgeable unicorns and couples who desire exactly the polyship they have are no different from the bigot.

There is a difference between looking out for a friend's best interest, and afflicting or sabotaging a relationship due to jealousy. Become an advocate for singles rights, but to infringe upon anothers rights is to ultimately forfeit your own.
 

Natja

New member
I am a woman.

I think the link between privilege and Unicorn Hunters is because one more often sees CP at work amongst the same folks. How many times have we seen couples talk about offering up equality only to see that when the going gets tough, said Unicorn is recast as an evil disruptive element who dared to ask for more than what the couple are willing to offer?

Not every couple who abuses their privilege would be UH's, not all UH's abuse their privilege, but there is enough links between the two to make it a valid point to bring up.
 

BoringGuy

Banned
Does that answer your question? If not, let me know - always happy to explain thoughts/reasoning.

That answers the questions I asked before, but now I'm confused about something else. Is "couple privilege" a thing, or not? Are you taking the stance that it does exist and we must work to eradicate it, or that it does not exist and we must work to eradicate the perception of it?
 

BoringGuy

Banned
Here is a fine new example of taking "couple privilege" for granted.

http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showpost.php?p=200424&postcount=1

Although it may be "not nice" to use this real person as an example, don't all our "examples" come from real people?

Now, I can imagine someone might say, "but this couple has the RIGHT to manage their relationship however they WANT. The "secondary" needs to be sensitive to that just as the couple should be sensitive to her! No one person's needs are more important than the others."

But really, there ARE now three people involved, and no one person's needs are more important than the others. So how is it that it's ok for a couple (married in this case, but not always) to say, "ok we're opening our marriage. Let's see other people." Then when it happens for one of them, the other is all "OMG I'm jealous! You have FEELINGS for the other person! FEELINGS, I say! But i guess I can "let" you be "friends" since she's moving away... you'll get over it, she'll meet someone else, life will move on and you'll both forget... wait WHAAAT? You made plans to visit each other? At HER place? FINE. It's her or me, you pick: your wife of 20 years and the mother of your children versus your new girlfriend. Me and the kids and never see her again, or her and leave me and the kids." Etc.

This is bad. This is an example of "couple privilege" being used in conjunction with emotional blackmail. It is from the perspective of the person who is trying to foist responsibility for their own choices onto their partner, using their idea that marriage and children is the "trump card". NEVER SEE HER AGAIN or LEAVE ME AND THE KIDS. This is not even a triad/unicorn situation and it's happening! It's not even about "you make the choice that's right for you and I will choose what's right for me, and if our choices bring us together, then good, if not, so be it." This one is textbook "couple privilige" - "I am the wife. I was here first. I let the genie out of the bottle and can't put it back in, so you do what I say because I'm the one you're married to. Your feelings and your other relationship and the other person's feelings are not as important as ME because... I'm your wife and I was here first."

I realize that the person who posted that is on a "journey" and that everyone needs to make mistakes in order to grow as a human being. But the reality is, this IS where this person is at RIGHT NOW on their "journey", and where they are at has a big sign that reads "Couple Privilege Depot".

It is a little daunting to try to find these examples in retrospect, digging through the archives, tag-searching, and so forth. But while a discussion is current and/or on-going, it is easy for me to recognize these examples when they appear. It isn't about tearing the author of that post a new asshole. It's about pointing out thought processes that form the basis for certain assumptions, and the choices, actions, and consequences that follow, which may and usually do affect other people who had/have/will have very little say in something that does indeed affect their lives. The "couple" may in fact be the top priority in and of itself, but that does not mean the rest of the world outside it ceases to exist or remains in a state of suspended animation while they work out their precious primary priorities.

However, all of those things do not automatically equal "couple privilege". What makes it "couple privilege" in the sense being discussed here (that is, having negative connotations and/or being used as a "pejorative"), is that such couples fail to recognize it for what it is, and act like they can't see beyond the "protecting our marriage" aspect of it. Guess what, the cat is out of the bag, the genie is out of the lamp. You can't un-ring that bell. Yes, we all make mistakes, but some people are willing to OWN that, and others prefer to let other people suffer for their own poor choices.

Me and the kids and never see her again, or her and leave me and the kids.

^^ I could not do this to my partner. We don't have kids, but we live together and share certain things that are important to both of us. If I'd decided that I didn't like the OSO, and I gave an ultimatum like this, I'd have to be prepared for them to choose the other person, and I'd have no excuse to be whining about it. <--this is the opposite of "couple privilege".

"Couple privilege" in this context is simply another way of not taking responsibility for one's own choices, and hiding behind the benefits of a sanctioned societal institution. Usually, this is taken for granted in mainstream culture because it's the default - monogamous marriage/preserve status quo. But nonmonongamy falls outside of the status quo. You can't have it both ways. You can't say out of one side of your mouth that you're "opening" your marriage, then invoke the original terms of the marriage just because your partner found someone to date and you didn't, and now you wish you'd never opened that can of worms.

OK, this is a good place to pause and wait for other people to respond. I have to go pick up some new rescue-cats anyway.
 
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Eradication? Say huh?

It's as hard to eradicate the privilege of being in a couple as it is to... say... eradicate the privileges of being caucasian. Impossible, actually. So the concept of, and the realities of 'couple privilege' exist, and I'm white... and I don't intend to use either as justification for behaving like a jerk. More questions?
 

AnnabelMore

New member
It's as hard to eradicate the privilege of being in a couple as it is to... say... eradicate the privileges of being caucasian. Impossible, actually. So the concept of, and the realities of 'couple privilege' exist, and I'm white... and I don't intend to use either as justification for behaving like a jerk. More questions?

Actually, I'd say that we CAN all work towards a world where 1) we're all aware of our privileges, which feeds into 2) we're mindful of helping to create a more even playing field, which leads into 3) building communities around us that don't privilege certain people over others in the way the greater culture as a whole does, which, if we're REALLY lucky and persistent and brave, MIGHT some day lead into 4) eradicating many of the more problematic and unfair manifestations of privilege in our society overall.

So, for instance, I can never stop being caucasian. But if I ally myself with anti-racist causes, speak up about inclusion, etcetcetc, maybe, just maybe, I can help in some small way to eradicate the privilege that comes with being caucasian in America.

Quixotic, yeah, but important, I think.
 

ThatGirlInGray

New member
Is "couple privilege" a thing, or not? Are you taking the stance that it does exist and we must work to eradicate it, or that it does not exist and we must work to eradicate the perception of it?
To the first question I'd say we've established that yes, it's a thing, but I'm confused about the second question. Why are those the only two options? Why can't "It exists, we should recognize it so we don't abuse it, and work on not using it as a pejorative" be an option?
 

BoringGuy

Banned
It's as hard to eradicate the privilege of being in a couple as it is to... say... eradicate the privileges of being caucasian. Impossible, actually. So the concept of, and the realities of 'couple privilege' exist, and I'm white... and I don't intend to use either as justification for behaving like a jerk. More questions?



No more questions. That was one of the biggest, lamest (or crippledest if you prefer) cop-out i ever heard and i can't think of a good response without sounding equally lame. (besides annabel already did a good job better than i could have)

I hope i'm not in deep trouble because of my use of the "l" word. It seemed to describe what i think most accurately.
 
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BoringGuy

Banned
To the first question I'd say we've established that yes, it's a thing, but I'm confused about the second question. Why are those the only two options? Why can't "It exists, we should recognize it so we don't abuse it, and work on not using it as a pejorative" be an option?



That is certainly an option. I guess the reason i only mentioned two things was because it seemed like that was the focus at the time. "something" versus the perception of "something".

You ask me "why can't" as if it's up to me and my permission is required. Of course it "can".

Although, if you want to nominate me for President of the Universe, i'll seriously consider accepting if someone will second the nomination. Nutbuster might.
 

BoringGuy

Banned
Here is a fine new example of taking "couple privilege" for granted.

http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showpost.php?p=200424&postcount=1.

Alrighty. It seems I was wrong about this being an example of "couple privilege" because I misunderstood where it said the girlfriend wants the husband to choose. I thought where it said that, it meant that the girlfriend doesn't want to be "just friends", that "having" him meant being in a boyfriend-girlfriend type of relationship, with him still married, etc.

That said, I will leave my post up because we can treat this "as if" it's a textbook case. I think it's safe to say that there ARE plenty of cases like this where one member of the original couple IS the one making the other choose. If that be the case, the basic items I outlined still apply.

I apologize for my mistakes. It's a good thing I didn't write all that in the OP's thread.
 

ThatGirlInGray

New member
You ask me "why can't" as if it's up to me and my permission is required. Of course it "can".

True. Better wording on my part would have been "Do you recognize this as also an option, and if not what is your reasoning?"
 
Making a better world.

BG: Feel free to use the vocab that appeals most to you. Truth is, I was working on a better response but my girlfriend came in to kiss and snuggle me and I said to myself, "Yeah, that'll do," and proceeded to kiss and snuggle her, while my husband walked the dogs, LOL. Say what you feel; live your life bro, it's all good.

Annabel: I fully agree that all of us have the responsibility to co-create a better world, especially within our personal and community wide sphere. Giving of my time is something that I do every week, month after month on a community wide level; I am committed to, and feel like I make a difference in the world around me. Even just being on this site and speaking up when I feel that someone is being bullied is dang important to me; I have a voice, and I am not afraid to use it.

And so I'm left with some nearly conclusive thoughts, and more questions...

Conclusions: Couple privilege.... Is recognition necessary? Yes. Should people be pre-judged for having it? No.

Now we have the question... Should it be eradicated? What does that look like in your mind? I've been thrilled to see my gay friends marrying their partners and claiming those 'privileges' for themselves as well - medical benefits, tax breaks and all of those goodies. Levelling the playing field as it were. So what would the goal be around changing couple privilege?

Seeds grow in fertile soil with sunshine and nourishment, and I feel like the same is true about positive growth in human beings and the world at large. Prejudging someone seems to thwart growth, rather than encourage it.
 
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that's some pecular source code in the link

Alrighty. It seems I was wrong about this being an example of "couple privilege" because I misunderstood where it said the girlfriend wants the husband to choose. I thought where it said that, it meant that the girlfriend doesn't want to be "just friends", that "having" him meant being in a boyfriend-girlfriend type of relationship, with him still married, etc.

That said, I will leave my post up because we can treat this "as if" it's a textbook case. I think it's safe to say that there ARE plenty of cases like this where one member of the original couple IS the one making the other choose. If that be the case, the basic items I outlined still apply.

I apologize for my mistakes. It's a good thing I didn't write all that in the OP's thread.

what do mean "textbook case" is the post written by a creative writer and a hypothetical, or made up scenario in order to fit a custom scenario?

why is it a good thing you didn't write in the OP's thread?
 
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