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“It Was My Privilege” (“It Was A Privilege”) is a sarcastic expression used as the punchline in greentext stories wherein gentlemanly courtesy is misunderstood as male patronage, thus mocking the feminist concept of the male-dominated social system known as the “patriarchy."
The earliest known “it was my privilege” thread was posted to the imageboard 4chan on January 9th, 2013, according to several screenshots archived on the image-hosting site Imgur (shown below). In the thread, several green text stories were submitted depicting hyperbolic descriptions of typical social interactions between men and women ending with the phrase “It was my privilege.”
Precursor: “Check Your Privilege”
“Check Your Privilege” is an online expression used mainly by social justice bloggers to remind others that the body and life they are born into comes with specific privileges that do not apply to all arguments or situations. The phrase also suggests that when considering another person’s plight, one must acknowledge one’s own inherent privileges and put them aside in order to gain a better understanding of his or her situation.
On January 9th, 2013, the “Abovt [sic] Male Privilege” Tumblr blog posted an “it was my privilege” green text story. On the following day, Body Building Forums member Stramgod started a thread featuring privilege copypastas. On January 26th, FunnyJunk user sapphiresparta uploaded a screenshot of a green text story from 4chan (shown below).
On February 17th, A Voice For Men Forums member mattycakes submitted a thread calling for users to submit sarcastic stories in which they’ve “used the might of the patriarchy to oppress women.” On March 13th, the “Meinprivilege” Facebook group was launched, which cited an incident known as “Elevator Gate”, in which feminist blogger Rebecca Watson complained about being asked for coffee by a man in an elevator at an atheist conference, as the inspiration for the creation of the page. On the same day, Redditor TheGreatSantini submitted a screenshot of a green text story to the /r/4chan subreddit, which described a man becoming sexually aroused while rescuing women at the gym (shown below). In the first three months, the post gained more than 1,100 up votes and 15 comments.
Youtube.com – “About Mythbusters, Robot Eyes, Feminism, and Jokes”
The Atlantic Wire – “Richard Dawkins Gets into a Comments War with Feminists”