Let's Talk About Privilege

A few years ago at a SXSW panel, a female CEO shared (paraphrase) that women have been in the workforce long enough that a good ol’ women’s club should exist.

So where is it?

Good question, lady.

We’re building it. We’re building, tearing it down, building it, remodeling, repeat. Maybe we’re just too into HGTV? (who doesn’t love demo day?)

As women flex their first amendment rights, I’m not only in awe of their strength, but I’m also shocked at the pushback they receive from other women. Read as: it’s getting western out there.

I’m a proponent of quality humans. Those who are humble, compassionate, and, quite frankly, listen more than they speak. Equal opportunity, if you will.

And, to be completely transparent, I'm surrounded by more quality humans than I could possibly list right now. My girl tribe is fierce, humans. Fierce. 

I was raised with privilege I never understood or appreciated until recently.

While, yes, my skin is white and my family could put food on the table every night, even through seasons when assistance was warranted, this is another layer of privilege we need to address.

You see, not a single male in my life - dad, grandpas, uncles, cousins, pastor, teachers, FFA advisors, et al. - ever hinted at a male/female comparison. Meaning, during my most important developmental years, I never heard, “you can do anything a boy a can do.”

[Just like you don’t applaud a teenager for not sneaking out at night, these guys don’t need our applause. They simply operate like quality humans.]

Because of this, I never realized there was a difference.

That in itself is a privilege the majority of the female population will never know.

Lucky? Grateful? Privileged? Ringing affirmative.

I’m an overachiever by nature, which means there was not a leadership position, scholarship, or award I did not pursue … or achieve. Through my career, I have been diligent to actively become a passionate practitioner of my trade. Stack this on top of a foundation of quick wit, confidence, and an extroverted personality, and you have a strong case for a woman who is thriving in a male-dominated industry.

I’m not humble bragging here. Just like Drake didn’t really start at the bottom (hello, Degrassi), I’m saying I’m not working at the bottom here. I’m a white woman with two college degrees and a pretty solid career. Mostly, I’m too busy hustling to care or notice distractions.

However, there are times when inappropriate comments lobbed my way in professional situations are downright impressively disgusting.

While they roll off my shoulder, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

Yes, I said they roll off my shoulder. I shudder, eye roll, and then let the comments roll off my shoulder.

It doesn’t mean that just because I’m a goal-oriented, overachiever, with hopefully a bright future that I’m immune - or deserving - of the ugliness of the world.

It means I’ve been more prepared for it to exist.

It means I have to consider how my response will affect my career.

It means these isolated instances give me pause when interacting will all individuals.

It means that while there are incredible men in this world - like my dad, my grandpas, my uncles, my first boss, my college professors - it means there are still humans in this world who are pretty terrible.

It means if you have not experienced an unwarranted inappropriate situation as a female, you are operating in a privilege that is so bubble-boy-esque it may be difficult to relate to those you interact with on a daily basis.

Practice kindness, open your ears, expand your horizons, and acknowledge the privilege in your life and use it to build the good ol’ women’s club.