Here’s a concept that’s so obvious I needed to hear it from someone else. As a feminist in constant training, I am aware of the most common types of privilege, even the ones that don’t affect me directly. And yet this one, which has punched me in the face throughout my life and scared my soul for lives to come has somehow managed to fly right through my Privilege Catching Net of Feminist Awareness (cool name, ha?).
And so it was that, thanks to Littoral Mermaid, that I could finally articulate my feelings. The Privilege Catching Net has grown in surface. Watch out, world!
So, let’s get on with it.
I’m an average looking woman. I know. There are millions of us. I can imagine myself saying those same words in a support group for Average Looking Women. “Hi, my name’s Mary…”; “Hi Mary”, say all the women in a neat choir; “… and I’m a *sob* average looking woman”.
This idea would be much funnier if it wasn’t so needed. With all the messages out there making us feel like utter trash ‘cuz, you know, it’s profitable to “un-trash” us, I believe it would be tremendously helpful for all of us average looking women to get together and discover that
a) we are by far the majority of women on the planet and b) our very existence, or rather, the label put on our very existence, actively PRIVILIGES the ones on top. That is, the pretty ones.
See, for every 10 pretty women, there are 100 average looking women who exist to make the pretty special. That’s the thing about privilige: the ones who have it, have it precisely because there are considerably more who don’t.
Pretty-ness wouldn’t be worth so much if it wasn’t so rare. And for it to be rare, there has to be far more average-ness than pretty-ness.
That’s the thing about privilege, it causes oppression. Pretty-ness is used in pretty women’s favour and against average looking women. Pretty-ness is used to put yourself up. But the only way to do that is to put many many down.
I could go on and on about pretty privilege, particularly the effect it has on the ones who, like me, do NOT have it and more particularly still on the effect it has on one’s perceived worthiness of being loved. If for some reason this resonates with you and you want to rant with me, feel free to do so.
I’ll leave you with the words of two awesome feminists:
“Yes, I am ugly – why should it matter? Why should it invalidate my opinions, be used to dismiss me as a friend or a gaming buddy, be used as a weapon against me whenever someone becomes angry with me or some random stranger sees my picture and decides he wants to use me as a toilet to dump his emotional shit into? Why should I be required to be ornamental? Why is my refusal to try to be an ornament met with such strident disapproval from complete strangers? What gives them the right?”
“Pretty women are not devalued under this system and may even reap some benefits for their good looks. That’s why I think that pretty women* often express indifference or even hostility towards radical feminist criticism of beauty culture as misogynist or hell even as a little sexist or see beauty culture as something to be celebrated or even as empowering. They can’t see through their pretty privilege.”