Sunday, March 03, 2013

Today in baffling YPIS

Jezebel threads are often a great source for examples of YPIS - of people who don't know anything about one another ordering one another to check their privilege. "Your privilege is showing" =YPIS.

Along the same lines, and yet kind of a new one: A commenter to a post about ideal-partner lists, identifying himself as a "gay feminist dude," produces the following:

Reasonably neat
Attractive (to me)
Aware of his privilege
Wants to make the world a better place
--But doesn't get discouraged by how hard that is
Loves Robyn
Emphasis mine.

This item - "Aware of his privilege," jumped out at me both because, well, YPIS, and because it seemed an odd thing to request out of context. How exactly is this imagined dreamboat to be aware of his presumably substantial privilege, if it's not spelled out in what capacity he is privileged in the first place? There's no indication that Theoretical Boyfriend is wealthy or well-educated, white or Protestant. He's male, one can infer, which means he possesses male privilege, but he's also gay or bisexual (or else what's he doing with "gay feminist dude"), which does mitigate some of that privilege, I'd think.

So, does "Aware of his privilege" mean that Theoretical Boyfriend is grateful for what he has, whatever that may be? In which case, fair enough - that's always a good quality, although if expressed too vehemently (think multiple daily Facebook status updates about how lucky one is, how blessed, apropos of nothing in particular), there's a way that it can seem either like bragging or, at the very least, forced and insincere.

Or - and this seems the ding-ding-ding possibility - does our gay-feminist friend have a recent major ex-boyfriend who was particularly clueless and entitled, who made frequent tone-deaf remarks that gave the impression he assumed everyone else also had a yacht? Because that's what this kind of list - no matter the gender or sexual orientation of the person making it - tends to be, a mix of grievances about one or more ex-partners (or bad dates), and an optimistic assumption that any future love will also have all the good qualities of all previous ones. Which means maybe dude's ex was aware of his privilege, although this seems like the sort of thing one would only notice in its profound absence.

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