I’ve been trying to wash my clothes all weekend but every machine has been consistently filled with someone else’s underthings. I just checked again and, sure enough, all four machines are full of clothes in varying states of dry, sopping, and left-so-long-they’re-molding. I was a bit annoyed– I just want clean clothes, is that so much to ask? Why can’t my neighbors just come downstairs and collect their garments? Right as I was cursing the unknown laundry-dalliers, the skies split above me and in a display of biblically unrealistic vengeance, I was punched in the face by the mighty fist named Privilege Check.
Let’s just take a moment to unpack how much I totally suck in this moment. Literally the worst thing that’s happened to me this weekend is that I’ve had to wait an extra day or two to use machines that will wash and dry my clothing. Like, I own enough clothing that I can fill a washing machine with wore-it-for-a-day dirty clothes. And when my little basket is full of my ‘dirty’ clothes, I open a door in my apartment, walk into a room full of magical machines, dump my stuff in with some soap and then gallons and gallons of clean water are sloshed around until my cotton blends come out smelling mountain fresh. And then- because that’s not even the end!- I pile all those mountain fresh linens into another machine and an hour later I have soft, dry sweaters. The entire concept here is so disgustingly wasteful and convenient, but I am enough of an asshole to be annoyed by the fact that I didn’t have instant access to these ridiculously awesome, totally unnecessary first-world gadgets.
I know I’m over-using italics here, but sometimes I really need to emphasize the unthinkably privileged soiree that is my life. Most of my problems are completely insubstantial and inconsequential. Sure, I have serious issues happening in my life, like everybody getting Stage 4 cancer all at once, and that chronic depression that likes to pop up at inconvenient times, and that minor allergy to the sun but, good lord. I’m a middle-class white lady going to graduate school (for a, let’s face it, pretty bullshitty degree) in the quaintest, whitest town in America. I have a home, a stupid amount of possessions, plenty of food, a gym membership, and I deserve to be punched in the face every single day of my life, because I am one of the most privileged pieces of shit around. The world has opened up for me in unfair ways because in our fucked up society, my race and class advantage me. I can’t change those things, but I like to think it’s better to Check Your Privilege than go around thinking the world owes you things–washing machines, for instance.
I was taught about Checking My Privilege pretty early on in life. When I was seven years old, I was standing in line at the public library. My sister and I were checking out American Girl books. I said, “I like Molly, even though I don’t think she’s very pretty, because she has glasses.” My mom turned around and gave me one of those Mom Looks that makes you feel like the least worthwhile being to ever exist. Then she said, “You know what Lydia? Most people in this world don’t think you are any kind of pretty.”
At first I was like, “Woah, Mom, I hope you realize that the next twelve years of my life are going to be spent with crippling insecurity and self doubt and the first (second, third, billionth) time some dude tells me I’m beautiful I’m literally going to laugh in his face, because you told me yourself that people don’t think that about me.” But then I was like, “Ohhhh. Woah, Mom. I am totally acting like a pint-sized princess. I really do need to stop sucking as a human, immediately. Thanks for that tough love!” My mom never tolerated any kind of high-horse riding. She was always proud, and supportive, but she did not let our egos inflate, and she did not let us forget what incredible lives we had.
Also, I had glasses by the end of that year which is probably what I deserved for being such a judgmental jerk. Also, I’m sorry American Girl Molly. I think you and your glasses are adorable.
When was the last time you were punched in the face by the mighty fist called Privilege Check?