What do we mean by privilege; explaining intersections.

tea uglow
2 min readJun 7, 2020


A smart man said to a smart friend.. "when people talk about straight white men it’s essentializing and dehumanising and I don’t think it’s fair."

The friend replied.. "Well, exactly - that’s what happens to us all of the time; it’s just you guys aren’t used to it."

Picture of a small assistance dog called Ginny.
An Assistance Dog called Virginia Woof. MindDog provide “assistance dogs for people with psychiatric disability” (Image courtesy Fiona Wright)

What we mean by privilege - beyond the fact that fish can't see the water they're swimming in - is that privilege describes the compounded effect of disadvantage on others; not the unfair benefit of being born the way you are.

It's not about you, it's about the structures we have all created. 
The labels I use let me understand myself and help me unpick the confusion of my daily reality and yet also create an isolation that cannot be reconciled. Every label gives us a sense of place and shared identity and yet also arms our enemies with quantifiable points of difference.

I am trans, autistic, bisexual, vegetarian, able-bodied, straight-sized, mentally ill, White, faceblind, a parent. I have a blood disorder and am ‘old’ if you are under 30.

All of these make me atypical, just as we are all atypical. Yet we insist on measuring ourselves against the average - a statistical norm from which we can create a relative difference - so that we can compare and compete.

Individually this has merit, but the idea of managing or ‘digitising’ global society by reference to a micro-social model based on relative normativity, is fucked.

When we use quant, without reference to intersections, we miss the significance of the personal qualitative nature of each of our lived experiences. That profoundly skews your data-based decisions, or your machine’s decisions. Further compounding the iniquities of intersectional discrimination.

I don't have an answer for this, I'm just describing the water.



tea uglow

[‘Tea’, like the drink.] I work for Google on atypical creative projects, and talk about doubt, reality, diversity, and biscuits.