Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006

How Privileged Are You?


I saw this at the Noble Savage today. She got it from What If No One’s Watching, who got it from Mostly True Tales. The original authors of this exercise are Will Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, and Stacy Ploskonka at Illinois State University. If you participate, they ask that you PLEASE acknowledge their copyright.

Bold the true statements. You can explain further if you wish.

1. Father went to college
2. Father finished college
3. Mother went to college
4. Mother finished college
She gave up half-way through her second year to get a job to earn money to go travelling. She doesn’t regret the travelling, but she regrets never finishing her degree.
5. Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor.
Attorneys. The whole family is crawling with them.
6. Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers.
7. Had more than 50 books in your childhood home.
8. Had more than 500 books in your childhood home
9. Were read children’s books by a parent
10. Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18
11. Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18
Swimming, tennis, ballet, pottery, drama and – briefly but unsuccessfully – horse-riding.
12. The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively
13. Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18
14. Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs
I had a bank loan, which I paid off when I started working.
15. Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs
16. Went to a private high school
I had a scholarship; my father paid the difference.
17. Went to summer camp
18. Had a private tutor before you turned 18
19. Family vacations involved staying at hotels
20. Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18
Either bought new or sewn by my crafty grannies.
21. Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them
22. There was original art in your house when you were a child
If original art means one of my crafty grannies’ watercolours, then yes.
23. You and your family lived in a single-family house
24. Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home
My father owned his flat; my mother and stepfather didn’t own their house. They both own houses now.
25. You had your own room as a child
26. You had a phone in your room before you turned 18
27. Participated in a SAT/ACT prep course
Not relevant for a non-American, I guess.
28. Had your own TV in your room in high school
29. Owned a mutual fund or IRA in high school or college
30. Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16
Flew to Cape Town in the summer after my parents got divorced.
31. Went on a cruise with your family
32. Went on more than one cruise with your family
33. Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up
34. You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family

Doing this makes me realise how lucky I have been. While there wasn’t tons of money, and getting divorced didn’t help, my parents always made a plan. We didn’t have expensive holidays, a big house or shiny gadgets, but they put education, and books, first. I remain eternally grateful to them for that.


Author: charlotteotter

Novelist, feminist, crime writer

18 thoughts on “How Privileged Are You?

  1. Pingback: A Meme of Privilege « Anthromama

  2. Charlotte, education, travel, culture, books, and a home… surely a privileged childhood. Since it was missing a family trust, travel luxury (e.g. hotel rooms and cruise ships), a television in your bedroom, credit card, and other such material amenities, it was more a childhood privileged in spirit or mind and not of body. I hope that my children will someday feel this as well about their childhood; for we are certainly not able to give them the material amenities on this list.

  3. Oh no, I’m going to do this one, but be forewarned that I’m going to look like someone who belongs on some TV show about the horrible and nasty “privileged class,” crushing all lesser beings in my path.

  4. By the way, that’s me, better known as Emily Barton. I’ve been setting up my new ecojustice challenge site here on WordPress, and I guess WordPress has decided that’s who I am from now on.

  5. This is sobering indeed. Especially when I consider that I used to believe South African whites were all spoilt kids, but that I score much higher (25/34) than you (18/34) on this ‘test’.

  6. How bizarre. The only boxes I can tick are the ones that concern books. We did have a lot of books at home and my parents did read to me (although very quickly I took over because I could go faster in my head). The rest are a blank. I guess I had a very privileged literary childhood! Oh and I did have my own room.

  7. Pingback: How Privileged Are You? « The Books of My Numberless Dreams

  8. Hmm. I’m going to have to do this one soon, just so I can join in the talk. I quickly count up my postiives, I only have 16. We were fairly privileged, though, in that we never had bill collectors pounding on our doors, and our parents believed that they had a responsibility to pay for their children’s educations. That meant that they scrimped on a lot of other stuff so that they could afford our tuition, starting the saving process for that when we were very young. Does this make me privileged? I suppose it does.

  9. My husband and I did this together. It turns out I was more privileged than he was, which we already knew, at least when it comes to matters of finance.

    Some of this just seems dependent on parenting style to me. I know kids whose parents scrape and do without to give them private lessons, and I know kids with very wealthy parents who don’t take lessons because they’re not intersted. And while I never even knew such a thing as a heat bill existed, my son (while he doesn’t know the cost) at least knows we have one. And I personally find SAT/ACT prep courses ridiculous, so I could be a billionaire and still not provide my son with those!

  10. My husband and I did this together also. We scored 10/34 and 16/34, respectively. What is striking, however, is the answers for our children, who score 28/34. It would be even more interesting to ask the WWII generation who preceeded us (we are baby boomers).

    I think each generation in this century (1900-2000) is more privileged than the one before it. It will be telling, indeed, to see if this continues into the future.

  11. Really interesting – and your answers are almost 100% the same as mine, except for the fact that I got a car as a student that wasn’t a hand-me-down form a parent, didn’t go to a private school and went on a cruise (on the ghastly Achille Lauro, no less!) with my parents.

    For a long time, especially at university I tried to pretend that I wasn’t privileged. Now I happily admit what a privileged (in MANY ways) childhood I had and I try to rememebr to be grateful every day for all the privileges I enjoy now.

  12. I’ve just done this. I would consider my own childhood to be quite privileged but I only scored 7. I think that any positives on this would mark you as privileged in some small way compared to the vast majority of children in the world.

  13. Pingback: The Privilege Meme « The Singing Librarian Talks (or Writes…)

  14. How fascinating. This is definitely one I’ll do. I score about 16 or so.

    The point about making trade-offs (private education vs holidays abroad in my case) is one which is well made and which probably says more about one’s parents’ values than anything else. What I hadn’t realised is that though my Ma was very literate, neither of my parents were particularly cultured. I’ve only ever been to the theatre, to art galleries and to concerts as an adult, but never as a child.

    A fascinating meme. Thank you for finding it, Charlotte.


  15. Pingback: So are Doctors Priveledged? « FtM Doctor

  16. I just did this and although I consider myself very privileged I only scored a 7. However, I guess it’s because I grew up in Denmark where education is free, nobody gets a car as a present, live-in help is not really used even by the very wealthy, where going on a summer camp is for the under-privileged, etc. etc. However – I do hold a degree, I’m starting doing my Phd shortly, I speak several languages, I’ve traveled, I know people of all colours, believes, races etc, well in short I consider myself extremely privileged and always have. Also as a child.

  17. Pingback: belgianwaffle » More champagne and canapes, please or not quite the spirit of ’68

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