Approaching a conversation on privilege (particularly with the privileged parties) is always a tricky one. It is human nature; no one wants to feel like they haven’t gotten to where they are in life by the sweat of their own brow. An important part of privilege that requires addressing though is precisely the “nature” part of it. Unless people are ready to hear that they benefit from an unspoken (or spoken) status quo it can become very defensive. So I hope you are all ready to hear me…
If you are married, you benefit from marriage privilege, period. Exclamation point as well. Marriage privilege exists societally of course, but as members of The Church marriage privilege is taken to such another level as to almost make the term useless. A privilege is a leg-up, married folk in The Church don’t have a leg-up they are the absolute default. One does not achieve personhood in LDS circles until and unless one is married.
I have been on both sides of this fence and the difference is literally night and day. The way I was treated as a 21 yr old married woman vs. the way I am treated as a 34 yr old divorced woman is mind boggling. I even benefit from a residual “street-cred” for having been married so I know of what I speak.
I could go into horror stories and example after example where this ugly and blatant privilege plays out but I’m not going to for at least two reasons; 1. I am still getting over a very bad sickness and am too tired, 2. You’re all big boys and girls so whether you’re open to admitting it or not you _know_ it exists.
So, now that we are all in agreement that we see it for what it is, what can be done about it? Fighting marriage privilege is much like fighting any privilege—you use your privileged voice to clear space for the unprivileged to have their stories and voices heard. What you don’t do is deny it exists. What you don’t do is say “I know how you feel; I was single ALL THE WAY UNTIL MY SOPHOMORE YEAR AT COLLEGE ZOMGGGG!” Let people speak. Listen and learn and you just might become a better person for it. Practice some of that loving care you were endowed with from your maker and open your eyes to see a whole different set of people you are probably offending.
Eradicating systemic privilege wherever and whenever we see it is the only way we will be able to achieve a Zion society. If you love your single brothers and sisters you won’t allow for them to be infantilized. You won’t allow for people to tell them that they will understand when they get married or inquire as to what might be wrong with them since they aren’t. Romantic love is not the only important kind so since we are all kin in the Body of Christ let’s make the extra effort to all give each other a leg-up.