My Rant for the Day: Couples Privilege
My rant for the day: So I have to say that I am a little irritated by the lack of nuanced language around the subject of Cis gendered couples privilege. Why does it bother me? Because I, as a black kinky, poly Cis gendered male experience privilege in a different way than a non minority Cis Gendered male would and these articles need to make this distinction.
An example of this would be, when, I am with my wife ( of 23 years ) we may experience;
- Being followed around a store.
- Waiters and staff treating us differently because they assume that we cant afford their product or that we won’t tip.
- Being skipped for seating at a restaurant.
- People clutching bags when we get on elevators.
- Awkward racial comments when in mixed company like, I didn’t know black people could swim.
And while, I hate to say that this but, these experiences are so commonplace that black people have normalized there miss-treatment to the point that it is considered just another part of the black experience. So we definitely can’t be considered the run of the mill CIS gendered couple of privilege. In this way, its hard for a Black couple to really see the privilege in being a black couple because the lack of common courtesy and human decency often detracts from whatever benefits one may garner. It was even difficult to write this as it was hard for me to distinguish between when we were being discriminated against as a couple or as a culture.
And yet, when I have a girlfriend who is not a minority or person of color. The lack of privilege is so much more apparent because she is not receiving the preferential treatment that is usually afforded her. We get:
- Stared at.
- Sometimes Called Racial slurs like N, lover, becky, sell out etc...
- Ignored at restaurants.
- Friends not wanting to hang out with us as a couple do to racial bias.
- People making racially insensitive jokes that reinforce racial stereotypes etc...
That being said, while I think the conversation around privilege is an important one, I think that it should be used in a much more nuanced way. Articles like the one written in morethantwo.com on couple privilege are not wrong across the board but they do make very broad generalizations regarding Cis gendered heterosexual couples.
Many of these articles assume that minority and interracial CIS gender couples experience privilege at the same depth, breath and scale as non-minority CIS Gendered couples. And this is simply not true.
Again, I have had non-minority girl friends denied work because they were dating a black man. I have had mutual “friends” make racial slurs or jokes to my partner. I have had asian girls say that I had never met her family because they’re family would disown her and others told me out right that their families have taught them to fear black men. So, assuming that all CIS gender couples have couples privilege or privilege to the same extent is, in and of itself, demonstrative of the fact that the author maybe speaking from a place of privilege themselves.
I think that its important to remember that privilege is a pretty browed brush that never confers power evenly across all demographics. Especially when it comes to race, gender and sexuality.
In fact, interracial marriage was considered a crime in 26 states:
“ Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming “ - politifacts.com
until 1967 when the supreme court said that, “ Marriage is one of the 'basic civil rights of man', fundamental to our very existence and survival. …Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.“ - Chief Justice Earl Warren.
While this issue was supposed to be over more than 50 years ago, the way many people feel about Cis gendered interracial couples, especially in the states listed above, is still pejorative at best.
Research has shown that non-minorities often harbor subconscious disgust towards interracial couples. Allison skinners research shows that, “feeling disgusted by others often leads us to dehumanize them. “ she went on to say that,
“ When it comes to interracial relationships, polls don’t tell the whole story. Interracial couples still elicit disgust in many people, which can translate into dehumanization. These biases evidence deeply ingrained societal attitudes about race in our culture “ - Seattle Times
This is why interracial couples experience violence at a much higher rate than same race Cis gendered couples. For example
“ In March, a white man fatally stabbed a 66-year-old black man in New York City, telling the Daily News that he'd intended it as "a practice run" in a mission to deter interracial relationships. In August 2016 in Olympia, Washington, Daniel Rowe, who is white, walked up to an interracial couple without speaking, stabbed the 47-year-old black man in the abdomen and knifed his 35-year-old white girlfriend. Rowe's victims survived and he was arrested.” Jessie J Holland Associated Press ( Chicago Tribune )
I would also like to point out that, while African American couples are no longer discriminated against by hotels outright. The 1964 Mrs. Murphy exemption, allows smaller entrepreneurs to, as Republican Sen. George D. Aiken, of Vermont said, small establishments shouldn’t be forced to rent to minorities. Which has resulted in a legal loophole which allows people to discriminate against anyone. The loophole is called the Mrs. Murphy act because the senators argument;
“integrate the Waldorf and other large hotels, but permit the ‘Mrs. Murphys,’ who run small rooming houses all over the country, to rent their rooms to those they choose." - slate.com
Which has become the legal basis for discrimination that blacks and others experience with businesses like AirBNB.
“ When Selden ( a black man ) tried to book the room through Airbnb last year, Paul ( A modern day Mrs. Murphy ) told him it was no longer available. Later that day, Selden saw the listing again. He applied using two fake profiles with photos of white men and was accepted in both cases. -slate.com
Another place that Cis gendered couples are supposed to benefit from couples privilege is with greeting cards but, again the privilege is not their in the same way that it is for non-minority Cis Gendered couples.
Cards are so personal, so I wanted to give her a unique card that upon opening she could really identify with... I searched for a card that had images of black families or a newborn black baby, but could not find anything in the major mainstream card retailers," Fihosy ( Mashible.com )
Again, African American culture and love is alway treated like its a novelty or a special order item but, the truth is that black people and black relationships don’t carry the same societal privilege as non-minority Cis gendered couples yet are lumped in to the dame category.
Another avenue where CiS Gendered couples are supposed to get privilege is when it comes to dealing with child protective services but this isn’t true for poor black and latino couples who get caught up in the system.
Dorothy Roberts, a professor at Northwestern University's School of Law, is the author of Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare (2002). In this essay, she discusses how the punitive nature of the child welfare system disproportionately affects minority families. "The number of black and Latino children in state custody is a national disgrace that reflects systemic injustices and calls for radical reform," - PBS.org
So when the discussion of privilege happens in a public space facilitators have to take into account that there are many groups of people listening and everyone of those groups experiences privilege differently. So you have to be very specific when discussing.
I would love to hear what you think 🤔 about this subject.