It is my experience that a lot of people have issues with the word, “privilege” when it comes to explaining the everyday experiences of inequality and of violence in our society. I also would agree that “privilege” is not the perfect word for this kind of phenomenon–but I’m not sure there are any better words–and so it might just have to do. (One can look at John Scalzi’s great explanation of straight white male privilege here. If you haven’t read it already, it will likely be the best thing you read today–and much better than what’s here.. )
As it stands–the word actually originally meant “private law”–in the sense that being “of privilege” meant that the regular law didn’t apply to you–only a kind of “private set” that was usually easier, less strict/harsh/etc..
Nobility had privilege–because regular laws that applied to all the peasants–didn’t apply to them.
What we see today is that not even REGULAR LAWS apply to minorities or women–that they don’t even get that. Most of the regular laws do apply to cis-het white males–but none of the “bonus” evil–like killing PoC–happens to them nearly as often.
So what this means is that the “regular laws” that we think govern society, DON’T. They have become a kind of “private law” that only some people get to enjoy.
Edit–Actually what’s going is that many are FINALLY NOTICING that what is presented as “regular laws” do not apply to everyone–that they are actually just “private laws” for some–and in reality–IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN THIS WAY… (edit required because of my own privileged position here that I hadn’t realized when I first wrote it.. ).
And that’s deeply, deeply disturbing. Because it means that what is generally considered to be just a “even ground” for everyone–isn’t and really, never has been… it’s always just been a reduced to a set of privileges that only some get to enjoy. (Note–for rich straight white males–there is EVEN MORE privilege… )
This needs to be fixed. If we, as the privileged–don’t want to hear this word be used–then we need to change society so that these basic, regular, laws actually apply to everyone equally.