by Doctor Science
Last week the elder Child of Science and I were at Worldcon, about which I will have lots more to say later. Anyway, while I was there I had a very good conversation with a gracious gentleman of the Old School of SFF Fandom (Print Fanzine Division). One of his points of dismay with Fandom These Days is that many people (such as myself) don't use our legal names, so he doesn't know where we live or "where we come from", socially as well as literally.
Now, this attitude is what we call "privilege", these days: not noticing that things that aren't difficult or a problem for you may be not at all easy for other people. The communities I "grew up in", fannishly speaking, were majority female and heavily queer (LGBTA+ of all stripes). Such people cannot assume that using their legal names and revealing their physical locations is innocuous.
This is not just because of the Internet, either. When I got my first phone, back in the 1970s, I had to decide how to have my name listed in the telephone book (unlisted costs more). Being a single woman, I naturally listed myself in the form "Doe J", not "Doe Jane", to reduce the chance I'd get harassing phone calls or active stalking. That was what we all did: the expectation that you could be publicly known by your first name was a "privilege" reserved for men, or for women under cover of men -- "Doe John & Jane".
Now I've decided that I really hate calling an expectation of safety and respect "privilege", and I can see why it gets some people's back up. "Privilege" often sounds like the opposite of "right", as in "Having a phone while you're a teenager is a privilege, not a right." Yet the core part of "having privilege" is "being able to count on being treated with basic respect" -- such as not being harassed or stalked in public spaces. These things *should* be rights, given to all people as a matter of course, not "privileges" awarded to a few.
Is there another word than "privilege" to use, then, to describe things some people experience as rights and which ought to be rights, but which aren't in practice always easily available to other people? To say to someone, "No, you can't just judge by your own experience, it isn't universal -- but it should be."