During the past few weeks, I've been visiting feminist blogs, trying to figure out where I stand on a number of issues.
Inevitably, when a man tries to comment on a post, the discussion focuses solely on whether the commenter admits he has "male privilege" - this becomes a litmus test of whether he is a serious participant, or someone who is dismissively considered a troll. Woman love to point out the Male Privilege Checklist, and in particular the final privilege - the ability to be blissfully ignorant of privilege. Feminists believe so much in the issue of privilege admission as a litmus test that white feminists are anxious, almost desperate, to point out on WOC blogs, that of course they admit to having "White Privilege."
Well, I'm not a Feminist, and I'm not a Male Rights Activist either. I think that the notion of judging people by the privilege they have, and the privilege they admit, is superficial. Even to the extent that I think my own Female Privilege List is silly. Because in some circles, the admission of privilege supports an ideological view of the world that slots people into fixed moral categories. Whether it is the fight of feminism against patriarchy, the fight of marginalized peoples against western white oppression, or the latest addition, the fight of transgender people against - and I plead willful ignorance of some of these post-modern nuances - against social constructions of gender, heternormativity ... whatever.
All of these ideologies have one thing in common - they slot people into fixed categories of relative moral worth, while at the same time accusing others of doing the same thing. People with privilege lineage suffer from moral blemishes that obscure their view of others; people with victim lineage have clear and accurate views of the evil that others do. The views of anyone with privilege lineage are deeply suspect, because they lack what is called "epistemic knowledge" - a valid standpoint from which to make any worthwhile value judgments.
In general, these ideologies confuse power with ethics, and make the implicit assumption that privilege always causes bias, and victimization always makes the truth clear. It ignores the fact that sometimes privilege grants the space and perspective to discover empathy, while victimization sometimes breeds rage and blind hatred.
So yes I do have privilege - the privilege of rejecting all these confining, myopic ideologies that claim to tell me the right and proper view of every social exchange. Ideologies that sometimes lead to vicious fanaticism. I'll make a moral assessment of myself and others that is based on my religion, my values, and my experience, not some historical grievance theater that is, quite often, more about revenge than justice.
Update: thanks to Philosophers Playground for the reaction to my original version of this, one that helped me clarify my thinking and express it better.