Privilege and Literature

Watch this video.  Seriously, watch it. It is the best  explanation of privilege I have ever heard.  Though it begins with a discussion of the video game related incident posted about by Feministing community member inallsincerity  here, the meat of the video is an impassioned discussion of how privilege effects people’s experience of literature. The video maker discusses several facets of privilege and how it has colored his experiences with literature, from the prevalence of privileged perspectives in the academic literary canon to how if he had not read outside his demographic he would never have encountered amazing works of literature from Shakespeare to The Color Purple.  What struck me most though was this.

“The other day I was at a pub, and there was a guy there… who’s really open minded, really liberal… and he was saying that he started to read some Ann Rice novels and he just quit because there were too many queer characters..”

The video’s creator, who goes by the username sillyyetsuccinct, doesn’t focus on what could be seen as discrimination here — whether putting down a book with characters whose difference makes you uncomfortable is outright discrimination or meerly a waste of an opportunity to broaden your perspective is a whole other issue — but on the privilege of being able to find books whose main character fits your demographic with ease. His conclusion that learning to relate to main characters outside one’s demographic is a benefit born from the flip side of this problematic privilege is also noteworthy.

Don’t take my word for it when I say this is a great explanation of privilege. Watch the video. You’ll be glad you did.

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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