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Guilt/Bitterness regarding privilege with partner

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This topic contains 28 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by avatar SherBear 3 months, 1 week ago.

Viewing 12 posts - 13 through 24 (of 29 total)
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  • #739028 Reply
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    Heatherly
    Member

    @skyblossom I’m not saying it never happens ever to white people and a light skinned mixed race woman (colorism at play) with a good accent ( classism at play) it generally doesn’t happen to me. But you & I can probably count on our fingers how many times it happens & I will have still have experienced it more then you, but a huge majority of POC have had it countless times And it’s just the tip of racism iceberg. This LW is actually talking about racism, sexism & classism dynamics at play in her life. She resents her partners lack of understanding on this. Yep, she’s not the exactly made herself sound completely sympathetic but I get where she’s coming from. In the main, until the death of his mother anyway bit.

    #739029 Reply
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    Northern Star

    If you resent white men simply because they are white men, and you have no interest in seeing a white man as an individual, instead heaping on him the blame for “his kind…”

    Then don’t date a white man.

    #739035 Reply
    Skyblossom
    Skyblossom
    Participant

    This woman seems to be saying that her adversity is the only adversity that counts and if you haven’t experienced her adversity then you haven’t experienced adversity. She doesn’t seem to understand that losing a close family member at a young age is a life altering event.

    Is it that he has no understanding of racism or is at a loss as to what she expects him to do about it. It sounded like he doesn’t know what she expects him to do about it. He is a grad student. He doesn’t have the power at this point to change the system. She is also saying that he didn’t earn what he has while at the same time saying he is extremely bright. So did he or did he not earn his place. She seems to be angry that he has used his abilities to get ahead. She expects him to talk about racism but does she talk to him about his experience in losing his mother. Is he even able to talk about it. She thinks he can’t handle setbacks while he seems to have handled death.

    She is so angry and bitter about the loss that her parents have experienced that she can’t appreciate that other people also experience loss and that loss takes many shapes and forms and having money doesn’t protect you from adversity.

    #739039 Reply
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    Ron

    And the irony is that she and her parents were the highly privileged elite in her home country, until they fell out of favor with political changes. Her parents life has been disrupted but they have landed in good jobs. By all normal accounting, she has led a privileged life. It sounds like she, not her bf, is the one who proved unable to stand up to the first adversity she and her family faced. She also is light skinned enough to pass as white and I think that may be the source of some guilt on her part.

    #739040 Reply

    Look, unlike everyone else here I’m only half white so I get the privilege you mean.

    Hmm… you’re not the only person of color on this site as a regular comment-er.

    Her issue isn’t even about racism and privilege. Her issue seems to be that she’s envious of her boyfriend’s life. She somehow thinks he’s had it easy because his parents can retire early and travel while not taking into account the life of privilege that she enjoys.

    #739042 Reply
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    Heatherly
    Member

    @CleopatraJones I’m aware of you being on here too. You hadn’t commented at that point, so I couldn’t speak about your opinion. I still think it’s a mix of classism, racism & sexism that built up here. But either way, she needs to decide to either get past her bitterness and be happy in this relationship or split.

    #739045 Reply
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    LisforLeslie

    “This woman seems to be saying that her adversity is the only adversity that counts and if you haven’t experienced her adversity then you haven’t experienced adversity.”

    Yup @skyblossom – this!

    As much as I hate comparing adversities – “Well my mom has no retirement.” “Well my mom is dead” I do think there is a point in time that you have to have a modicum of self-reflection to see that while life isn’t always fair – that often you have options in this world. Sometimes the option is to just put one foot in front of the other and keep going.

    #739055 Reply
    Skyblossom
    Skyblossom
    Participant

    @Ron They seemed to accept and use privilege until it disappeared on them. Then she finds herself upset that others have privilege even though she can’t point to a time when her boyfriend used his privilege to get ahead.

    You don’t get into a competitive PhD program by being a privileged white boy unless he had connections to the Dean of the college or the President of the university or his family made large donations to the university. There are people who manage to slide along on those types of coattails but the vast majority of people don’t have that type of privilege. He had to work for good grades and good letters of recommendation to get into the program. He certainly won’t be getting his work published just because his dad has money. If his work isn’t up to par his peers will be scathing.

    #739056 Reply
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    Vathena

    Well look LW, only you really know for sure whether your boyfriend is a clueless, white-male-privileged-and-likes-it-that-way, un-empathetic jackhole who has things “fall into his lap” inevitably as though he has a privilege tractor-beam. From where I sit, he reads more like a glass-half-full, big-dreams guy who saw his mom die young and maybe reconsidered what he wants out of life. He may handle future adversity a lot better than you, because he sounds to me like he makes lemonade from the lemons.

    As for being defensive about the women in the lab…most people do get defensive when accused of sexism/racism/whatever-ism, even if it’s true. You don’t seem to think he’s irredeemably awful, otherwise you wouldn’t be dating him, so maybe give him the benefit of the doubt and think about ways to point out sexism in your field without accusing. Just talk about it and maybe you’ll help plant that seed for him.

    You’re at a university, so there are probably counseling resources to help you with your stress and grief over your parents’ situation. Remember that happiness and success are not a zero-sum game. Your boyfriend’s family is not being successful AT you. Your boyfriend’s dad’s early retirement was not the cause of your parents’ political exile.

    #739058 Reply
    Skyblossom
    Skyblossom
    Participant

    “I also have struggled with his passivity in the face of inequality in our work space. Recently some female PhD students have complained of the lad culture and how they’re routinely passed over for experiments and other opportunities. Of course, T and his friends got very defensive about it, because basically “they invite everyone to the bar (man and woman) and they’ve never actively discriminated anyone, so why are they being accused?” I tried to explain the subtleties of the whole issue, and some of the things that their coworkers might be feeling, but was met with a lot of sympathy and not a lot of action.”

    You are demanding that he take action against inequality. I think it is fair to ask what you did to fight inequality in your home country before your parents lost their privilege. Are you asking something of him that you didn’t do before losing your privilege. Are you asking him to be more aware than you were.

    He will have far more power to make a difference once he has finished his degree and has some sort of position where he can hire and promote people based on merit. At this point he can’t do that. It feels like you don’t want him to compete for good positions because you think his having a good position is unfair, even if he works hard, even if he is highly competent.

    #739061 Reply
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    MMR

    If you want to date someone who actively and passionately fights all kinds of inequality, then date someone who actively and passionately fights all kinds of inequality. Your bf clearly isn’t that person, so do you want him, or not? That’s really what this boils down to.

    To be clear, I think you’re fighting a good battle, and trying to recognize your own privilege, and those things are great. But nagging him and his peers about going for beers EVERY DAMN TIME (I’m assuming that’s how it feels to them) will not help your cause, or change any minds. So he and his friends aren’t out protesting or actively implementing positive change – it would be great if they did, but they’re not. They’re also not (another assumption) gross, moronic misogynistic dickheads who expect their spouses to raise the children and bring them sandwiches. The best way for you to influence this group is to do your thing on your own time, and let them see what you’re doing – not by lecturing them about racist and sexist nuances – but by sharing how your weekend went when you’re talking to each other like friends. Also, just demonstrating that “social justice warriors” are normal people who like to hang out and have a beer will do SO MUCH MORE for your cause than trying to convince people that they don’t deserve the things they have.

    Alternatively, decide that you don’t want to do this, and find someone who shares your passion.

    #739098 Reply
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    Stillrunning

    Other than the pretty sentiments the LW expresses in the first paragraph, it sounds like she doesn’t like her boyfriend very much at all.
    How would she like the tables to be turned and be constantly scrutinized and judged?

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