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May 7, 2012 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]


We are pakeha. We are middle-class. We are heterosexual, fully-abled, study at university, and our first language is the language spoken around us. We are cis-gendered and male. Our names are Ollie Neas and Asher Emanuel. We are privileged.

By privileged, we don’t mean it in the colloquial sense: that these characteristics are some kind of preferable or ‘good’ way to be. We are privileged because these traits are either shared by the majority of our community, or are rewarded by the structures that govern much of our lives.

But the advantages bestowed on us from occupying these identities of privilege are not ours by dint of our strength of character, our merit, or what we contribute to those around us. By luck we were born this way. In no way is it because we deserve it.

Being in the majority sure has its benefits. We can wander about at night, safe in the knowledge that it’s unlikely we will be subject to sexual violence. Because of our gender. Eyebrows never lift when we walk into the bathroom labelled ‘Men’. Because of our gender. When we join the workforce, we will probably command a higher wage that half of our coworkers. Because of our gender.

Government never cares to interfere with our reproductive autonomy, because most of them are men too. Pronouns used to describe us match adequately both our identity and biology; we are never excluded when it comes to ticking one of the two check-boxes offered to us by whichever official form or application it may be.

The mechanics at work run as deep as our language–the tool which informs not only our interactions with others, but our conception of ourselves.

The advertising and media we consume each and every day reflects and affirms our majoritarian identities as in some way desirable. Our securities are reinforced. But the society presented to us–safe and certified–is the society of some, but not all. It is a warped reflection.

This is the thing about being in the majority: it is so easy to be blind to the reality that not everyone is the same as we are. We hardly have to consider the idea of being different to who we are right now, and the concerns we might have if we were. Most of the time, it doesn’t even occur to us. And because this state of affairs so often possesses the force of the majority, the structures of community are contrived to keep it that way. It’s a cozy wee bubble, and it’s about time it burst.

We are not ashamed of who we are. It is just who we are. But we are ashamed of the way in which the world privileges us simply because of the way we are. It’s an unacceptable state of affairs. Everything about it is quite plainly wrong. It’s intolerable. There’s much to be done, but it starts with repeating the following truism until you believe it. All people are equal.

Act accordingly.


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