Taken-for-Granted Social Class Privileges


 A list compiled by the students in my sociology course on inequality:

  • I can pay to have dental work and therefore keep my teeth intact.
  • If I speak out, I am assumed to be worthy of a voice, and people will respond to me in a prompt and respectful way.
  • I can afford to purchase clothes for a job interview.
  • It is assumed that I am a good person who can be trusted to not steal, etc.
  • When I go to thrift shops and garage sales, it is because it is fun and creative, not because I am desperate.
  • I don’t have to take back pop bottles for money.
  • As a parent, I never have to choose between feeding my kids and myself.
  • I never suffer from low self-esteem because of society looking down on me for receiving welfare.
  • I know that society assumes that I am intelligent, motivated, creative, make good choices and work hard based on my class status.
  • I never worry about how I am going to get medical care without decent medical insurance.
  • I never worry about getting mental health care treatment, or substance abuse treatment that is “decent” because I have health insurance.
  • When I used a gold Visa card in the department store, I was not asked for more identification.
  • When it was time to start deciding which college I wanted to go to, no one ever asked me if I was going. They just assumed that I was.
  • I can hire someone to do the work that I don’t want to do, e.g., I can hire someone to clean my house, mow my lawn, wash my windows, clean my car, etc.
  • If I stand up for my economic “rights,” I will not be perceived as being lazy, screwed up, taking advantage of society, and I won’t have to suffer from extreme self-doubt.
  • I will maintain the illusion (delusion) that I have “control” over my life and my destiny.
  • I don’t have to worry whether people don’t like me because of my economic status.
  • I don’t have to get married. I get married because I want to, not because I am forced to. Ditto: I don’t have to stay in an abusive situation because I have somewhere to go, and people to fall back on; if my work situation or domestic situation is abusive, alienating, violent etc.
  • When buying food at the grocery store, I don’t have to use food stamps and therefore bear the wrath of the cashier and the people in the check out line.
  • No one will wonder why I am buying steak or shrimp and no one will say anything about how I am paying for my food or judge the items I purchase.
  • I can relax on the weekends without worrying about whether I will be homeless or not.
  • I can apply to colleges without worrying whether I belong and without feeling ashamed of my family background.
  • I can apply to the colleges knowing I have the money to pay the application fee.
  • I have people who help me get to college, and understand the importance of it.
  • I can belong to a professional organization without suffering from extreme self-doubt and without the feeling that I am an imposter.
  • I don’t have to worry whether I will be able to get my children holiday/birthday/ presents or not.
  • When paying taxes, I can write off a lot of my expenses, as a tax write-off.I can use credit cards, checks and get loans without worrying about being declined/denied.
  • I am assumed to live in a functional home, and the state does not interfere to mandate that I take parenting classes.
  • I don’t have to worry about what middle-class people say about my parenting, worry about losing my child.
  • I don’t worry when I telephone the secretary at the doctor’s office, who is curt, short and rude, that she is rude because I currently have Medicaid.
  • I don’t worry about getting caught up in the prison system.
  • After I got married my parents gave me and my partner money for a down payment for a house, which helped us get started. Then, they give us money for the kids for summer camps. This probably would not happen to a poor person.
  • My parents had money to pay for the things that I needed.
  • I don’t worry that my teenage children will hold my lack of money over my head, call social services because I don’t have enough money to buy the food that they want in the house and then report me for not having food in the house.
  • I will not have to struggle with survivors’ guilt the rest of my life; I will not have to feel bad and responsible for those whom I left behind.
  • My child is not exposed to violence in the street.
  • I don’t have to worry on a regular basis about social services taking my kids because they perceive me to be an unfit parent.
  • I don’t have to move, and move, and move again.
  • Because I am a homeowner, I have equity if I decide to move and get another house.I get an inheritance not debt when my relatives die; they leave money for me and my siblings in stocks, property, etc which helps make life easier.
  • I can be relatively sure that if smoke or drink in moderation that this will not be perceived as “taking” from my children.
  • I don’t have to worry about where I will sleep tonight; I don’t have to go to a soup kitchen for food.”
  • I won’t be judged for having a nice car, or buying “good” food at the grocery store–or junk, for that matter. I can eat out, at any restaurant I choose.
  • I don’t have to rely on the good graces of others for help to pay my bills, bring food and clothing for my children, etc. I am not dependant on others to have my basic needs met. This frees me from their judgment and abuses of power.I can watch TV and read papers and books and go to counseling, and will see people and talk to people who look like me and see the world in the same kind of way.
  • I can expect medical and legal assistance without being turned down of the basis of class, money, prestige.
  • I don’t have to worry about angering people if am mad about being poor and talk about the injustices being done. I don’t have to deal with “liberals” who will say that they understand or that they struggle economically too, because our economic struggles are clearly not the same; they are not struggling to keep a roof over their head in the same way.
  • When I talk about my reality, I don’t feel shame, doubt, invisible and powerless.
  • I am not at the mercy of others help or judgment or abuse in the same kind of way.I don’t have to work two or three jobs just to make ends meet, and I can explore my hobbies.
  • I get to thrive instead of barely survive.
  • I can and do take vacations on a regular basis.
  • I can and do get braces, good haircuts, and even a pedicure on occasion.
  • I can go out to eat without feeling guilty.
  • I can go to meetings and groups and expect to be listened to, to have my opinions taken into amount, I don’t feel isolated, ashamed, and like an outsider because of my economic status.
  • I can see a therapist and pay for it, and know that the therapist will not decide that I am a bad parent because I don’t make enough money.
  • I know that others will not see me through a classist lens in all institutions, which makes the quality of my life better.
  • I know that if I am sick, I will get support and help from my employers, family and friends rather than judgment.
  • I know how to play “the game” because my parents played the game, and I learned this first hand.
  • People will encourage me to follow my dreams and to not settle.
  • -I don’t internalize oppression and self hate, which affects my self-worth, because of my class.
  • I will not wonder whether I am clinically depressed because of my economic status and hardships in life.
  • I don’t have to deal with the impact of poverty, i.e., poverty causes mental and physical health problems.
  • I will be able to have access to a good education, and therefore, will learn the skills necessary to get good scores on standardized tests, so that I can then get into a good college. And then, a good job.
  • People will assume that I have others in my life who are supportive.
  • My parents will pay for my college so I won’t accumulate large debt.
  • I am able to get into a “good” school.
  • I will have the money to pay for the books to study for the tests that will get me ahead in life like the SAT, etc.
  • When I read a self-help book, my “reality” will be all over the pages.
  • The self help book suggestions apply to my situation and I can easily follow their advice. For example: I can hire a lawyer or a therapist to help me resolve my problems, if that is what the book suggests.
  • I have a winter coat that fits, and other winter attire.
  • If I need a new pair of snow boots for my child, it is not a crisis.
  • If my car breaks done, I can be reasonably assured that I will be able to get it fixed, and in the meantime, I will have easy access to other transportation to get to work without it being a big crisis.
  • My jobs pay more, and I have more autonomy and freedom and free time.
  • I have a car and a license.
  • My parents can afford to pay for my drivers training so I do get a license.
  • My parents have working vehicle which also passes inspection so I can take the drivers training test.
  • I do not have to feel I misrepresent myself and have to hide my life when in more middle-class settings.
  • I can rest assured that my children’s teachers assume I have a career, am smart, and can help my child with their homework.
  • My children’s teachers treat me with respect and we share the same reality.
  • I can take time off of work if my child has a school function without losing pay.
  • I will not lose my job or fail school because I am unable to find child care or transportation.
  • I will know others who are in prominent positions who can help me get a good job.
  • I will not feel like an outsider and suffer from self-doubt because I am poor.
  • If I or a member of my family gets sick, it’s no big deal. I just call the doctor and make an appointment and take advantage of sick time if need be. It’s not a crisis.
  • I can call around for apartments and easily find someone who will rent to me and I will not feel like I am “fooling” landlords.
  • If on welfare, few people would want to rent to me; even if had the deposit for the rent. If l did find somewhere to live, it most certainly would not be in a “good” area of town and then, I would be at the mercy of slumlords.
  • If I was lucky enough to move into a “nice” neighborhood, I would bear the wrath and judgment of others who could see my social class and terrorize me and my children until we have to leave. My children would struggle due to economic and class discrimination and might come to hate me because I cannot give them what other parents can.
  • I do not have to give up my child support in exchange for my welfare check, and when I do get off of welfare, wind up having any money owed to my children for child support given back to the state. Contrary to popular belief and awareness; welfare is a loan which will be paid back if the money is available to do so in the form of arrearage child support.
  • I do not have to work for corporations, cleaning toilets, and scrubbing floors, to earn my welfare check, and then, see that the corporation gets tax breaks for hiring me as their “project” to “teach” “good work ethics to.”
  • I can play around with ideas, art, abstract thought, books, etc. because I have the luxury of time and space.
  • I am not at the mercy of social workers, child protective services workers, the police, judges, the courts.
  • If my child gets into trouble with the law, I have the resources to bail them out.
  • I don’t have to endure the charity of others, the judgment of others, and no good do gooders who use me to feel good about themselves while judging me, patronizing me, talking about me behind my back.
  • I don’t have to pay extra to have my checks cashed, to buy food, etc. like people do in urban poor areas.
  • I don’t have to pay extra because my utility bills are never shut off and then turned back on, with a fee, which also ruins my credit.
  • I don’t have to pay more for the things others take for granted like a credit card, or a mortgage.
  • I have the money to move if I need to.
  • If something is broken, I can afford to fix it or pay someone to help me fix it and thus avoid the classist judgments of people who are quick to label someone “white trash” simply because they do not have the resources to update/fix the item.
  • My humanity is seen and assumed.

4 Responses

  1. “I don’t have to endure the charity of others, the judgment of others, and no good do gooders who use me to feel good about themselves while judging me, patronizing me, talking about me behind my back.”<—-THIS

    This right here encapsulates everything that is rotten to the core about the anti-trafficking movement with the way poor sex trafficking survivors living in utter destitution are treated when we're forced to beg for (usually non-forthcoming) charitable aid by many class-privileged non-trafficking survivors who think themselves to be our "social betters" that claim to be "allies" to poor exited women like me. (Exited refers to women who escaped a sex trafficking situation who are struggling to rebuild our lives, BTW). And all too often, any "help" that is actually provided by any of these anti-trafficking NGO's that purportedly provide "victims' services" comes with strings attached—very demeaning strings that basically translate to "Get with our misogynistic Christian victim-blaming program or get out."

    1. Nicole Braun
      Nicole Braun

      Hi Jacqueline,

      I saw this post awhile ago and I did not know how to respond but it looks like the format is different now so I hope this works and that you see my response. Thank you for your response to the article and I especially appreciate the power in your truth here. How utterly frustrating and unhelpful, to say the least. Although I don’t have the exact same experience with sex trafficking, I have other kinds of experiences with the same type of “helpers” who mainly want to impose their self-righteous Christian victim blaming narrative onto others. It also creates a whole other set of problems because in many cases, we are powerless to refuse the “help” so we are stuck with having to deal with yet another form of abuse. What do you think would help the “do-gooders?”

  2. Pingback : Addressing Classism – kevinsblog654

  3. Stephanie Baker

    A few others….

    Middle/Upper class usually own their own home, and are not at the mercy of a landlord when it comes to…owning a pet, inviting someone to move in, remodeling or painting, or other home renovations.

    They are usually married to a spouse who earns a good living, so they have the freedom to quit an unsatisfactory job, or if they happen to get laid off/fired, it’s not a major catastrophe, and they are then free to pursue more education

    The luxury and freedom to take yearly vacations or multiple vacations a year.

    The parental safety net if they end up losing a job or house.

    They often run in well heeled, well established professional circles of peers.

    Crimes like DUI are usually treated as a slap on the wrist and dismissed due to the ability to hire excellent attorneys.

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