I was searching for an article of one of the most interesting women in the history of activism in the United States, the professor, writer and feminist Peggy McIntosh. The search was online, and as usual, I got lost in the brambles. Instead of finding what I was looking for, I stumbled on Mary Dore’s documentary, She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry, a gorgeous lesson about the history of feminism in the United States through the women who sought a different point of view and promoted a shift in the history of equal rights and diversity.
After watching the documentary for two hours and reflecting sadly on how little things have changed in the last fifty years, I returned to my original intention: to find the original version of the article published at the end of the 80’s titled “White Privilege and Male Privilege” in which McIntosh speaks of the invisible and unconscious oppression by the privileged, and with which she became an icon in the world of activism by using the idea of “privilege” as a principal factor in understanding gender, class, and ethnic inequality. This article was an incredible exercise in introspection that gave rise to a number of projects, like The National SEED Project, devoted to promoting equality and diversity in education.
The fact is that seeing and reading these two things on the same day, the heroines starring in the documentary that inadvertently crossed my path suddenly became the privileged. According to McIntosh’s theory, the vast majority of them were white and college educated in the 1950’s. And then I understood the idea that, in the end, and without realizing it, we are all oppressors or privileged in our own environment, and this is why we behave erratically when we are not able to understand that invisible privileges are even more powerful and destructive than visible ones.