I'm a woman, so I always got the gist of male privilege. The game is rigged, the guys get all sorts of privileges and, to add insult to injury, most of them aren't even aware of their advantages. They like to think they're simply ahead of the game because they're better, which makes it all that much more irritating. I'm white, so I always try to keep my experiences with male privilege in mind and remember that it's easy to be happily blind to something if you're not on the painful side of the stick. I try to not be that kind of irritating.
I talk to friends and even acquaintances about the privileges that go along with being white because I think it's important to keep those kinds of thoughts in the forefront of your mind. Here's the funny thing though: back when I was young and pretty, I never-ever talked about the privileges that go along with being pretty. No, I take that back. I talked about it enough times to learn to never talk about it. As soon as you take ownership of the fact that you get special treatment for being pretty, you also take ownership of the fact that you know you're pretty. And, that never goes over well. You can say, "I know I'm smart," and people will think your intelligent. You can say, "I know I'm talented," and people will think you're confident. But if you say, "I know I'm beautiful," people will think you're a conceited bitch who needs to be taken down a few rungs. Those are fightin' words baby. Talking about being beautiful is the final taboo.
Perhaps one of the good things about aging is that you end up not caring so much what people think of you. So, let's have at it. Let's talk about pretty privilege and break some taboos. And hopefully, in the process, we'll normalize the conversation so women can communicate about something that separates us to such a large degree. I've decided to write about it over the next year and I'll be interviewing some beautiful women about their experiences. To kick it off, here's my personal take on the...
Top 3 privileges of being a beautiful woman:
Power: Sure, it's nice to be a sex goddess and be desired by all. But the real upside of beauty is all the practical powers that go along with being desired. Men hold the a lion's share of power in the world. Men obsess over beautiful, young women. Hence, beauties get to partake in some of that power. Pretty girls can move up the social ladder and get access to financial security for themselves and their offspring. Contrary to all the books and TV shows men have written and produced, women aren't silly, petty little beings that have nothing better to do than compete for the attentions of a man. What they are really competing over are resources--resources that are controlled by males. Things are changing, and women are getting more and more access to power regardless of how pleasing they are, or are not, to men. But, for now, the world is still controlled by powerful males. And beautiful women wrap powerful males around their little fingers. Which, the story goes, makes them the most powerful creatures on earth. Never mind that the power they have is negligible in real-world terms. By the time they're old enough to figure out what to actually do with the influence they wield, they're deemed too old to have that type of influence.
Happiness: Ah, the optimism of clueless happiness. Just like a lot of white people were never even aware of all the privileges that go hand-in-hand with being white, a lot of pretty girls are clueless to their privileges. In fact, they're often clueless to the fact that they're even considered beautiful. Perhaps she's not a Size 1, or her butt isn't the correct shape, or her lips aren't quite right. Girls are weird. And she might not even get it that she's as hot as she is. But...the rest of the world gets it, and they treat her accordingly. So, she goes through her youthful days oblivious to the fact that people are treating her differently. Instead, she looks at the world around her and thinks it's a nice place full of attentive people. And these people are constantly telling her how smart and interesting she is, so she figures she must be smart and interesting. Oblivious to reality, she walks through her young life, delusional and happy. Could there be anything more irritating than someone being so happy with themselves, and with life in general, out of sheer luck? Injustice is the smile on a pretty girl's face.
Freedom: Society looks at a beautiful woman and quickly determines she could have, at the very least, married rich. So, if she doesn't have the fancy clothes and nice car and all the other prizes that signify she's a winner in the game--no biggie, it was obviously by choice. Heck, she must be very deep and spiritual for making the choices she did. What a nice perk that is, to be able to follow your bliss and not feel the pressure to play silly games. Ironically enough, the reason beautiful women are granted this freedom is due to the silly rule in the game stating that beautiful women are deemed automatically worthy simply due to their looks. Privileges are funny things.