Privileged Minority

A new term came up in discussions with my family the other day. We were, of course, discussing politics. Hillary Clinton insulted a group of individuals. Here is what she said.

“It seems to me, just observing him, that Governor Walker thinks because he busts unions, staves universities, guts public education, demeans women, scapegoats teachers, nurses and firefighters, he is some kind of tough guy on his motorcycle. A real leader,” Clinton said. “Well that is not leadership folks. Leadership means fighting for the people you represent.” ABC News

The interesting thing that ended up happening was that a family member, I’ll call her Jane, was angry because she rides motorcycles. “Oh, she busts on a minority group and doesn’t get called on it!” Jane said. “If it was the Republicans, everyone would be all over them!”

Jane tells me she’s been insulted and none of us even noticed or cared. Well, I was surprised and apologized. I didn’t quite know what else to say. It had not been my intention to ignore her or make her feel bad. I have to admit that I didn’t think there was an insult to bikers in there anywhere. I suppose being compared to Gov. Scott Walker could be considered an insult. I can see where being called a “tough guy” could be an insult, especially to Jane. However, the way I parsed the sentence was that the Governor does all of these things to prove that he is a tough guy. Who rides a bike. Maybe he even rode a bike to show he was a tough guy. (That’s not an insult, I promise!)

Then I wondered how much of a minority group are bikers? One site tells me 3% of registered vehicles are motorcycles, so yes, definitely a minority numerically. Here’s a definition for minority group.

A subordinate group whose members have significantly less control or power over their lives than members of a dominant or majority group; not limited to mathematical minority

I confirmed the definition on several sites. The wording was slightly different, but all definitions made it clear that the group had less power and small numbers does not necessarily make them a minority group – the lack of power does. Women are a minority group, but they make up about half the population.

Motorcyclists are not a minority group. They are a diverse group of people that ride motorcycles, some of whom belong to minority groups (i.e. women). This is where a new term coined by my husband slipped into the conversation. Privileged minority. This group is only 3% of the vehicles out there, but they do not lack power and have control over their lives. They choose to buy (sometimes very expensive) vehicles. This ability to choose is a luxury, so they are privileged. However, numerically among vehicles the bikes are a small percentage. Hence the term privileged minority. I like the term and I think it is accurate.

Yes, Clinton insulted Jane. If Jane feels insulted, then it’s possible you male bikers out there feel insulted as well. If you are a white, male American, you are in a majority group (the power holders). For the first time ever, a great many of you have to think about what this actually means. I think it’s scary because you feel you will lose your power. Being a part of a privileged minority is the closest you’ve come to being without power. But think about this. Jane as a biker is not part of a minority group. But Jane as a woman is. This is a duality that many of us have been stuck in all of our lives. It’s not easy. Maybe if Jane and John could talk to each other reasonably, they could help each other navigate this strange and changing landscape of privilege and power.


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