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User: firecat
Name: Stef
Back December 2014
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the cat & dragon rag - new-to-me privilege meme
litter & tinder
new-to-me privilege meme
I've seen various privilege memes around, and most of them are pretty US-centric. I found this one in the blog Enlightenment Ward here, and it's quite a bit broader, although there are certain things it doesn't capture (for example, the effects of parental expectations).

The original post is also worth reading because of the description of how the questionnaire was put together, and because of the discussion of the results.

Instructions and Scoring

Take the questions one at a time. Don’t relate them to any before or after.

Add 1 point if the item describes your situation (Y)

Subtract 1 point if it does not (N)

Put zero (0) if it does not relate to your situation (ie if you have no children and the question relates to children or if cell phones were not available at the time mentioned).


A) Education

1. If all your grandparents could read and write
2. If your father finished grade school (8 years)
3. If your father finished high school (12 years)
4. If your father went to college (1 or more years) or completed trade school
5. If your father finished college
6. If your father has a PhD (or international equivalent)
7. If your mother finished grade school (8 years)
8. If your mother finished high school (12 years)
9. If your mother went to college or completed trade school
10. If your mother finished college
11. If your mother has a PhD (or international equivalent)
12. If you have any relative other than your parents who is an attorney, physician, engineer, accountant, judge, high elected official (senator/governor/chief minister etc.) or professor.
13. If you finished grade school
14. If you finished high school
15. If you went to college or completed trade school
16. If you finished college
17. If you have a PhD
18. If your family was the same or higher class than your school teachers
19. If you have a commercial driver’s license or any pilot’s license
20. If you went to a private (not government run) grade school
21. If you went to a private high school
22. If you had a private tutor

B) Insurance and Pensions-Future Security

1. If your parents had life insurance
2. If you have life insurance now
3. If your parents had a retirement fund (401K, RRSP or international pension equivalent)
4. If you have a retirement fund (same as above)
5. If you live in a country with an old age pension/social security/Medicare
6. If you live in a country with an unemployment insurance scheme
7. If you live in a country with a welfare/social assistance system (even food stamps or gov’t coupons)
8. If you live in a country with government controlled guaranteed rationing of food or other goods
9. If you live in an area with regular food banks (charitable food distribution systems not run by government and not emergency or interim food aid)

C) Health

1. If you had access to and received routine immunization as a child (any of diphtheria/polio/chicken pox/small pox etc.)
2. If you were born in a hospital or at home with a qualified trained midwife or doula
3. If you went to a paid dentist (not a school or free clinic dentist) as a child
4. If you have health insurance or live in a country with socialized medicine
5. If you have insurance that covers prescription drug costs
6. If you have dental insurance
7. If you have access to specialists (dermatologist/cardiologist/oncologist etc)
8. If you do not have a debilitating chronic illness (one that prevents full time work)

D) Employment

1. If one or both of your parents were continually employed when you grew up (as opposed to seasonal work, agriculture or sporadic employment)
2. If you have been continually employed for the past 5 year or more
3. If you have been promoted in the past 3 years
4. If you drive a company car or have an expense account
5. If you have your own office or separate work area that is for your exclusive use (as opposed to being shared like in a factory)

E) Living Conditions

1. If you had an indoor toilet at home while growing up
2. If you had reliable electricity while growing up
3. If you never had head lice or parasites while growing up
4. If you never had persistent (half the time) vermin (mice/rats/cockroaches) in your home while growing up
5. If neither of your parents were alcoholics or drug abusers
6. If your mother could have had a paying job (if permission of a family member/religious authority was not required)
7. If your mother had no restriction to access to birth control (social, economic or religious restriction)
8. If your mother could have obtained a driver’s license if she wanted to (ignoring cost etc.)
9. If your family had access to a large food store or market while growing up
10. If you did not experience physical violence while growing up
11. If you or a member of your immediate family were not a victim of a serious crime while growing up
12. If your parents were able to vote for government representation on any level (variations of democracy)
13. If you are able to vote on any level
14. If neither of your parents have been in jail/prison
15. If you have never been in jail/prison
16. If you are not a refugee
17. If your country has not experienced a war on its own soil or martial law while you were growing up
18. If your neighborhood was principally of your own ethnicity
19. If your neighborhood was principally White

F) Access to Information/Communications

1. If you had a telephone at home while growing up
2. If you had a phone in your room
3. If you had your own cell phone before age 21
4. If you had a television at home while growing up
5. If you had your own TV as a child or teen
6. If you had a computer at home when you were growing up
7. If you had your own computer at home when you were growing up
8. If you had access to and used a public library on a regular basis (more than once a month)
9. If you had more than 50 books at home when you were growing up
10. If you had more than 500 books at home when you were growing up
11. If you were read children’s books by a parent when you were growing up
12. If your family received a newspaper delivery when you were growing up
13. If your family received postal delivery at home when you were growing up

G) Leisure

1. If you participated in “official” organized sports outside of school as a child (with leagues, uniforms etc)
2. If you participated in community activities as a child (cadets, cub scouts, choirs, dance troupes, clubs, etc)
3. If you ever had lessons [music, arts, sports] of any kind as a child or a teen
4. If you had two or more kinds of lessons as a child or a teen
5. If most people in the media [TV, movies] were of the same cultural background as you
6. If most people in the media [TV, movies] who dress and talk like you were portrayed positively
7. If you went to summer camp or school camp on holidays
8. If you have visited another country once while growing up
9. If you have been to another country more than once as a child or teen
10. If you had vacations away from your state or regional birthplace as a child (over 100 kilometers or miles away)
11. If your vacations involved staying at hotels rather than campgrounds or at relatives homes
12. If you have ever flown anywhere on a commercial airline
13. If you ever went on a cruise
14. If a parent or close relative took you to museums and art galleries as a child or teen
15. If a parent or close relative took you to free movies, plays or concerts as a child
16. If a parent or close relative took you to paid-admission movies, plays or concerts as a child

H) Bank and Finances

1. If you had a credit card with your name on it before age 21
2. If you currently have a credit card or bank loan
3. If you had less than $5000 in student loans when you graduated
4. If you graduated with no student loans
5. If you had a bank account as a child
6. If you have a trust account
7. If you have more than 6 months wages in bank savings (excluding pension funds)

I) Property Ownership

1. If all of your clothing had been “factory” made (not made at home by a relative)
2. If all of your clothing had been new (not previously worn by someone else)
3. If your parents had a car
4. If your parents had more than one car
5. If your parents gave you a car
6. If your parents gave you a new car
7. If there was original art (hand made and purchased-not magazine or calendar art) in your house as a child or teen

J) Housing and Geography

1. If you were born in the country in which you currently reside
2. If there were non-religious picture on the walls of your home as a child
3. If you and your family lived in a single-family house when you were a child
4. If you currently life in a single family house
5. If your parent owned their own house or apartment or land when you were a child or teen
6. If you have or had a mortgage (house loan)
7. If you have paid off your mortgage or own a home in your own name
8. If you had your own bed as a young child
9. If you had your own room as a child or teen
10. If you were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family
11. If your country has a mass transport system (trains, buses, airlines)
12. If your country has ports (access to the ocean)
13. If your country has a temperate climate (not tropical and not below freezing for more than 5 months of the year)

K) General Demographics

1. If you are male
2. If both your parents are of the same ethnicity
3. If both your parents are White
4. If your significant other or spouse is within the same ethnic community as you
5. If you have a co-parent for your children (This means you are not a single parent)
6. If you heterosexual
7. If you now the same gender as you were born
8. If you are 1 or more inches taller than the average person of your gender and ethnicity
9. If you do not have large scars, tattoos, birth defect (ie cleft palate) or a serious notable skin condition (ie vitiligo) on normally visible parts of the body
10. If you are in a relationship AND legally married
11. If you are not disabled
12. If you are under age 40
13. If you are not divorced
14. If you are not widowed
firecat From: firecat Date: August 2nd, 2009 09:03 am (UTC) (link)
I'm not sure how to answer some of the questions -- e.g., "If all of your clothing had been new (not previously worn by someone else)" -- technically no, because I have sometimes bought clothing at thrift stores, but only because I have chosen to do so. But my score is somewhere in the high 70s.
papersky From: papersky Date: August 2nd, 2009 11:14 am (UTC) (link)
Wow. Mine is 19 -- it should be a few points higher because it specifically asks parents, and while my parents never owned a house, or a car, I grew up in a house my grandparents owned, and my grandfather had a car. Also the 100 miles one -- we vacationed every year about 70 miles away, but in Britain that's a long way, or it was then.

I think this is much more useful that the US-centric one.
fauxklore From: fauxklore Date: August 2nd, 2009 12:50 pm (UTC) (link)
I scored somewhere in the 50's, depending on how you interpret certain questions.

And while this is less U.S. centric, it's still somewhat Western oriented, in my opinion. For example, the questions about art still seem to reflect certain cultural biases to me. And there are certainly cultures in which being over age 40 confers privilege.
ailbhe From: ailbhe Date: August 2nd, 2009 02:19 pm (UTC) (link)
I said "yes" to the art, because we always had our artwork on the walls, the children's and sometimes my mother's. Do you think it meant bought art?
cakmpls From: cakmpls Date: August 2nd, 2009 02:31 pm (UTC) (link)

Some of these are difficult to answer: was my father seasonally employed in my early years, when he was an electrician working construction, frequently laid off or between projects? For A12, do they mean "relative" in one's family of origin? My husband and most of his family are professionals, but none of my ancestors were. Most of my teachers were sisters, brothers, or priests--what "class" are they? Also, I did go to private grade school--but it was a Catholic school in the barrio. Does that count, I wonder? I used 0 for these, which I wouldn't say "didn't relate," but I just couldn't pick yes or no.

I find it odd that it asks whether a parents were alcoholics or drug abusers, and whether you experienced physical violence (apparently, from source), but not whether your parents had physical disabilities or mental illness or whether you experience sexual or emotional abuse. It seems to me that someone who grows up, say, with a father who is a jolly-when-drunk alcoholic has more "privilege" than someone whose parents were emotionally abusive.

yarram From: yarram Date: August 2nd, 2009 04:35 pm (UTC) (link)
I would also note that some of the questions ignore the possibility of being an immigrant or being subaltern in ways other than ethnicity or skin color. For example, the questions relating to representation on TV. I'd probably answer the first one "yes", because my family counts as "White". OTOH, positive/healthy portrayals of GLBTs and the disabled were nil-to-nonexistent when I grew up, so positive portrayals of my identity as both gay and disabled were not available (and are still pretty damned fucking rare).

But overall, my family was very upper-middle-class, and I knew it even when growing up. I haven't tallied my score, but I wouldn't be surprised at 60+. It's interesting to note that I am of significantly lower socioeconomic status than my parents were at my age - which tells you the challenges that even "successful" subaltern people have in meeting family expectations of socioeconomic class.
elainegrey From: elainegrey Date: August 2nd, 2009 04:44 pm (UTC) (link)
Does the US meet this one: "If you live in a country with government controlled guaranteed rationing of food or other goods"? I rather think the milk programs and so on count.
firecat From: firecat Date: August 2nd, 2009 05:43 pm (UTC) (link)
I was wondering about that myself.
wcg From: wcg Date: August 2nd, 2009 04:46 pm (UTC) (link)
51, assuming I use the neighborhood where my family lived in Detroit, before we moved to Tucson.
tylik From: tylik Date: August 2nd, 2009 05:51 pm (UTC) (link)
63, more or less. It's kind of involved - how disabled am I? (This year, not so much, last year, a whole lot.) My younger siblings had almost entirely new clothes and resort vacation, I mostly had hand me downs and camping trips. Some of this is about class, but some is also the difference between growing up in the seventies and the eighties. And I don't have a PhD yet, but I figure working on one probably counts.

I wish there were some more questions about how much you were taught about playing the system. For instance, in my family I was taught a fair bit about investing, and that's one hell of a privilege.* OTOH, I wasn't taught about how to put together a resume, hunt for a job, or apply to college (the first two almost not at all, the last just mostly - though my dad was a professor, which demystified many things, and I had access to friends who did know the job stuff). Having the knowledge to know how to use the resources available to you is really important, and I think a huge class marker.

* And I bought a nice house on an acre in a affluent suburb when I was twenty-three. Entirely from my own earnings, but still. I knew how.
firecat From: firecat Date: August 2nd, 2009 05:59 pm (UTC) (link)
The original post discusses how older people will have lower scores than younger people on certain items. It also mentions that you can compare your score from childhood to your current score; and I think it is interesting to compare your score from one year to the next on such issues as "how disabled am I?"

I wish there were some more questions about how much you were taught about playing the system.

Yes, I agree, and I agree it's a class marker. I think the questions about art in the home and such are intended to get at that, but they don't get at it very directly.
clever_doberman From: clever_doberman Date: August 2nd, 2009 06:47 pm (UTC) (link)
I get 72 if I leave blank the questions like whether I had a cell phone at age 21 - they didn't exist 38 years ago!

but if I score myself -1 for questions like that, then I get 69.

not a perfect instrument, but it is interesting.
innerdoggie From: innerdoggie Date: August 2nd, 2009 10:40 pm (UTC) (link)
I wonder why you get a privilege point for having a spouse of the same ethnicity?
firecat From: firecat Date: August 2nd, 2009 11:48 pm (UTC) (link)
Because life is generally easier if you don't have the risk of certain cross-ethnicity challenges such as suspicion between your families of origin, questions about whose cultural traditions in which to raise your children, and so on. And if the members of the couple are perceived to belong to different "races", the couple will experience disapproval and possibly discrimination.
innerdoggie From: innerdoggie Date: August 2nd, 2009 11:00 pm (UTC) (link)
OK 61.

That's weird about the emphasis on the new clothes, since families often recycle clothes. Maybe that's low class, but we didn't know it was low class because it's just what everybody did in our ethnic/regional group?

firecat From: firecat Date: August 2nd, 2009 11:56 pm (UTC) (link)
In my family of origin, it was one thing to wear hand-me-downs from someone else in the family, but otherwise we expected to be wearing/buying new clothes. My mom didn't like it that I shopped at thrift stores.

On this one I think it's largely about perceptions. If your way of life matches that of the people around you so you feel normal, that's a privilege of a sort.

On the other hand, if you are trying to climb the social ladder, it would be important to know stuff about the messages that various clothing choices send, and the brands of clothing that certain cultures consider appropriate, yada yada.
elainegrey From: elainegrey Date: August 2nd, 2009 11:21 pm (UTC) (link)
I commented there - http://enlightenmentward.wordpress.com/2009/07/29/how-privileged-are-you/#comment-652 -- hours after opening that page and this one.

Good discussion since.

Hope your house care and parent care are going well. I don't know whether to poke with more questions about your mother, but i hold her health in mind. Christine is off to NC for two weeks of parent care, herself.

firecat From: firecat Date: August 3rd, 2009 12:40 am (UTC) (link)
Thanks for your good thoughts. I'm open to being poked with questions and appreciate knowing people are thinking of me. I just don't have the energy to initiate discussions and unfortunately not much energy to read other people's journals right now.

My mom is no longer in much pain, but she is weak and I think she is still eating too little to maintain her weight.

Good thoughts to Christine.
weirdodragoncat From: weirdodragoncat Date: August 3rd, 2009 12:29 am (UTC) (link)
Hmm...I'm having issues with some of the questions too.

I'm not sure how to answer the question about having lessons of any sort as a child/teen. Technically the answer is yes...but they were from my grandmother and she wasn't paid for it so I'm not sure if that counts.

I also don't know how to answer about being read to as a child. I'm not sure I remember. I'm pretty sure my grandparents read to me though. Does that count?
firecat From: firecat Date: August 3rd, 2009 12:37 am (UTC) (link)
I think there are several aspects to the lessons.

One is having the time for lessons and the access to someone who will teach you the skills. Having the opportunity to learn more skills is a privilege.

Two is that having extra skills can give you an advantage in life.

Three is that in some cultures it is considered important to give children the opportunity for lessons with paid professionals. Those tend to be high status/high resource cultures so if you belong to one of them, you have privilege.

I don't know which parts the questionnaire was going for. In a lot of cases I think certain questions can be teased apart into multiple questions.

As for being read to as a child, I think if anyone did it on a regular basis, that counts, because being read to as a child is known to improve a person's skill at reading and interest in reading, and being skilled at / interested in reading confers advantages in life.
innerdoggie From: innerdoggie Date: August 3rd, 2009 03:02 am (UTC) (link)
It's also interesting that the education question didn't go back to the grandparents more. You get a point for literate grandparents, but there are no questions about college-educated grandparents. I think I'd add that one.
nolly From: nolly Date: August 3rd, 2009 07:12 am (UTC) (link)
I agree -- I gave myself the points for both may parents being college-educated, but my father was the first in his family to go to college, whereas my mother's father is a judge. Their backgrounds are very different, and their scores would differ significantly from each other. I think mine and my mother's would be fairly close, but I wouldn't be surprised if hers was higher than mine, leaving aside the technology questions.
hobbitbabe From: hobbitbabe Date: August 3rd, 2009 06:43 am (UTC) (link)
I haven't read everyone else's yet, but I got about 66. Thanks!
nolly From: nolly Date: August 3rd, 2009 07:20 am (UTC) (link)
I got about 58, but some of them don't map cleanly to my background.

My dad's a preacher, and most of the time, we lived in houses owned by the church where he was working at the time. I had my own room because my only sibling is my brother, and because the church owned a 3 bedroom house.

My parents did buy a house when we lived in Mississippi, but we moved long before it was paid for.

We did have original art in the home, but I don't think any of it was bought; I think it was by friends of my parents, then later, by my brother and I. They do have bought art now, though.

bunnybutt From: bunnybutt Date: August 3rd, 2009 08:00 pm (UTC) (link)
Interesting one. I was feeling all guilty and privileged and white while doing it, and then reading comments realized that my end score of 26 says a lot about class shifts during the boomer era.
webmaven From: webmaven Date: August 10th, 2009 04:28 pm (UTC) (link)
I scored 49.
amilyn From: amilyn Date: August 10th, 2009 06:54 pm (UTC) (link)
Section scores and overall score: 64 (Education 0, Insurance 5, Health 8, Employment 1, Living Conditions 11, Access 4, Leisure 10, Bank 3, Property 1, Housing 9, Demographics 12)
Birth country USA
Current country USA
Ethnicity white/Northern European mutt
Gender F
Age or age range (20’s, 30’s etc.) 39
Religion raised Christian, now pagan/non-practicing

This was fascinating….particularly in the ways that I am far more privileged than my parents or siblings. None of my grandparents finished high school (though all finished 8th grade). My mother only attened community college and got her Associate’s and became an R.N. after my father (sole breadwinner) left us and she was afraid we would have no income. None of my siblings attended any college (and two barely graduated high school). None of my grandparents, neither of my parents, and none of my siblings have visited another country, though I have. I finished college with no loan debt because I had a full academic scholarship and lived at home–because I was fortunate enough to live in a college town–and finished in the time parameters of my scholarship.

So…lots and lots of the privilege that I have now is based on innate intelligence, hard work, a disposition geared to doing all of what was expected/asked, luck, education, opportunity to education, support in gaining that education…and it is privilege that is not shared by most of my family. Of my six aunts and uncles, all attended and five finished college (including my father’s older brother who had a Ph.D. in Agriculture and was a professor…and was fairly well ostracized by the family)…but of my six cousins, only four attended and two finished college. In my nuclear family, I was the only of the four children in my family even to attend college, let alone graduate.
bookishwench From: bookishwench Date: August 10th, 2009 07:37 pm (UTC) (link)
The one thing I don't understand here is why religious artwork is treated separately from other non-religious artwork.
firecat From: firecat Date: August 11th, 2009 01:54 am (UTC) (link)
I'm not too clear on that myself, but sometimes I get the impression that the kind of art one values is a class indicator.
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