Chapter

Confronting Privilege

Sonia Kruks

in Simone de Beauvoir and the Politics of Ambiguity

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780195381443
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979165 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195381443.003.0003

Series: Studies in Feminist Philosophy

Confronting Privilege

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This chapter addresses the paradox encountered by those who are socially privileged but who also endeavor to contest the forms of privilege from which they benefit. Arguing that privilege is often unchosen and that it is not easily shed, the chapter discusses the difficulties presented by a “politics of self-transformation,” in which privileged persons (notably white feminists) endeavor to sensitize themselves to their privilege as a means of contesting it. The chapter turns to Beauvoir to sketch an alternative strategy: a “politics of deployment” in which individuals use the benefits that accrue from their privileged status in order to struggle against the oppression of others. Beauvoir's activities during the struggle for Algerian independence are examined as an example of such a politics. However, her actions, although a “success,” are also indicative of the ambiguity and failure that so frequently attend political action.

Keywords: Algerian independence; Beauvoir; failure; politics of deployment; politics of self-transformation; privilege; white feminists

Chapter.  15016 words. 

Subjects: Feminist Philosophy

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