Discrimination happens based on factors such as gender, the color of your skin, age, sexual orientation, disability, age, social status, religion, ethnicity, etc. Consequently, there are just as many different types of privileges.
Just like with discrimination, the factors behind privileges are not something the individual has chosen, or deserve – they are assigned to the individual through social norms and structures.
Due to these norms and structures our conditions and situations are different. This is why it is imperative we talk about and make visible, the advantages – the privileges – we may have simply because of norms and structures.
Are we really aware of the social norms and structures? Are we really aware of our own privileges? Here are some tips on how you can identify what specific privileges you have, and how you can use them to make a difference:
Listen to, and talk to, people who may not have the same privileges as you have. Are you really treated equally? Reflect and look into each others’ everyday life.
With privileges also come responsibilities. Fill in the gaps where you lack knowledge! It is never the one who deviates from the norm who has that responsibility.
Reflect on the space you take. Is there a context in which you take up space at someone else’s expense? Are you the one talking most at meetings? Is it only people who look like you who are invited to talk? Reflect, and let those outside the norm in that context have their voices heard.
We all make mistakes. Norm critique is a way to analyze your mistakes. It’s about being humble towards yourself and others, having the courage to admit when you are wrong – and learning from it. Accept the mistake and see it as a lesson rather than fearing making mistakes again.
Degrading treatment is often linked to norms. Bring attention to incidents when you see someone being treated badly. By using a norm critical perspective, ask yourself “Why did that person say/do that?”. Acknowledge and bring attention to the degrading treatment to raise awareness of the norms behind it.