I didn’t earn it. I didn’t cheat anybody out of it. It just happened. I ended up being 6’4″ tall.
How is that a privilege? Oh, come on — when the waitress walks past my boss in his 3 piece suit and asks jeans-and-sweater me, “How many in your party?”, it’s pretty obvious how she chose who she’d ask.
Tall guys are perceived as healthier, more mature, smarter, and more competent. We have a distinct advantage in hiring and promotion — it’s measurable. When I work hard, I get every benefit of my work — and that’s as it should be. I didn’t cheat! It should be that way for everyone, but . . . it’s not.
However, I came by my tallness late. I was late maturing, and was nearly two years younger than most of my classmates. I was only a bit over 6′ tall when I got married. Two years later, my wrists stuck two inches out of the sleeves of my wedding suit. So, I know first hand that shorter guys usually have to work harder, be luckier, be more connected to get what I got for free, just by cleaning my plate as a kid. They didn’t do anything wrong, it just came to them.
Now, if I’d always been exceptionally tall, I might have thought that was the world everybody lives in, but I know it is not. Short guys have to struggle for the status I’m accorded for free. I’ve seen it, and even experienced it — remember, I wasn’t always exceptionally tall.
I could pretty much date girls of any size I liked — people might offer amusing comments if my date were very much shorter than me, but that was about it. I’ve seen how people look and act when he’s much shorter than she is. So, effectively, I had a bigger selection than a shorter guy.
Then there is the physical world — granted, I have to get into a catcher’s crouch to see the bottom shelf in the fridge, but I can also reach the top shelf at the grocery, the top cupboards in the kitchen. My shop goes all the way to the ceiling, because I can reach there. Free!
It was all free, and I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING TO EARN IT. It just came to me. Some of it should come to everybody just as effortlessly, but it doesn’t. That’s what they mean by “privilege.” It’s not the right word, but it’s the word that’s being used.