What’s Privilege Got To Do With It?

A few days ago, I posted a list of privileges I have. Some of you may be wondering what that has to do with anything. Glad you asked. Let’s examine a privilege more closely.

Let’s talk about the fact that I got pregnant easily two times. This is a privilege because not everyone has an easy pregnancy story and our culture makes some assumptions about pregnancy. These include: everyone wants to have children, everyone can have children if they try, it’s a blessing to be pregnant. What else can you think of?

For me, these assumptions were true so my pregnancy experience was very easy. I controlled when I got pregnant, who I got pregnant by, how many times I got pregnant, in what circumstances I got pregnant. I was never asked any awkward questions like, “Are you going to keep it?” “Who’s the dad?” “When are you going to have babies?” The control piece is very important here. Some people have no control of their pregnancy experience: some people are raped, some people try and cannot get pregnant, some people get pregnant and lose their baby, some people have no access to birth control and have unwanted pregnancies, some people have never been educated about sex and get pregnant.

Understanding the diverse experiences of pregnancy is critical. It can be very easy for those of us who have had control of our pregnancies to impose societal assumptions on everyone. This gets dangerous when talking about oppression. If you look around in politics right now, you can easily find legislation or debates happening about women’s reproductive rights whether it’s people not wanting their tax dollars to fund Planned Parenthood, others trying to make abortions more difficult than they are, churches not wanting to provide their staff with access to birth control. There have also been conversations about how many embryos parents should be able to use during fertility treatments.

You may believe whatever you would like about any of these issues. However, it’s important for those of us who have had a privileged reproductive experience to consider that not all women have it as easy as us. It’s easy for me to say, “I would NEVER have an abortion,” or “I can’t believe those parents would put all their children at risk by inserting 5 embryos.” However, I wasn’t a 15 year girl who had no support from my family to raise a baby. I never yearned for the baby could not have on my own. Even though I never had those experiences, I need to recognize that they do happen and I cannot understand what it would be like to be in those situations. I need to recognize that if I were in those circumstances I would want to make my own decision without my government or other people interfering.

I do not have to sacrifice my values to let others live by theirs. If we’re going to buy into connectedness, we are going to have to take care of each other as we let each other make our own decisions. We must be aware of the things that are happening in our communities, in our government, in our country that are trying to impose values on others based on a cultural, religious, or personal belief/privilege. That’s oppression. When we recognize our privilege and examine how it affects others, we can beat oppression.

Where have you seen this happening in your life, community, or country?

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