Check your privilege checking

Privilege checking is a public shaming ritual that accomplishes rather little other than emotional damage for the victim and smug self-congratulation for the perpetrator. It mistakes the intersectionalist mantra for theoretical insight, empirical accuracy, and political efficacy.

The genealogy of privilege checking stretches back to the early 1970s. The model was established first within “second wave feminism,” when radical (lesbian) feminists challenged the political commitment of their cultural (straight) feminist comrades who continued to love men. By the late 70s and early 80s, it had become the modus operandi of “third wave” feminism in the USA. Books by bell hooks from that era could serve as primers on how to privilege check.

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