When I think about my friend, I find that I use the same criteria to classify him.
I think that the reason I do this is because it draws distinctions or highlights the differences between us and provides a framework for identifying both similarities and differences. He is a male, I am a female; there is a multitude of implied sociological, as well as biological, differences in that category. My family has lived in America for the last seven generations and his grandfather came to the United States from Mexico; the cultural identity distinctions are numerous, as is our reference grid for perceiving the world around us. I am single and he is married; this relationship status implies an enormous number of social factors that define us both in different ways. As for intelligence, we are both pursuing degrees in higher education; for this specific comparison, this is more of a distinction that highlights our similarities over our differences. Finally, I am here and he is in Los Angeles; which means that our daily lives look very different. These identity definitions are important for the purposes of understanding similarities and differences.
I think the benefits of privilege, and certainly the abuse of power, are often found within these categories. In looking at the abuse side of things, i.e., discrimination based on gender or ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc., I can see that any classification system can be abused; but I don't see any other way to make the identifications and distinctions that help me perceive the world.
b. Relative Power and Privilege. In a similar way as identity classification, my estimation of my own personal situation in terms of privilege follows similar distinction. On the whole, I would rate my personal circumstances as a seven. The criteria I use to give myself this rating are; living conditions, career opportunities, and recreational pursuits.
I guess my thinking about my personal privilege status is guided by the things for which I am grateful. That is why I chose the categories above. I feel very privileged to have a safe and secure place to live, and plenty of food to eat; which makes me more privileged than much of the world's population. I am also very grateful for the career opportunities that lay before me, particularly after I finish my education. I know that I have more control over my future as a result of several privileges I enjoy. Finally, I chose recreational pursuits because those things make me happy. One reason my privilege score is so high is that I enjoy doing certain things and, when I engage in those activities, my quality of life and general mood are enhanced. If I were to have no time to play, because I had to spend every waking minute looking for food or working to stay alive, I would not be the privileged person I am right now.
I don't know that I specifically rejected any other criteria for establishing my status, as much as I just followed my own internal logic. Certainly, there are many other categories of comparison that could be used to quantify privilege or power; but for me, the most important ones are those that directly impact my daily life and happiness. As I noted previously, my sense of privilege foll