Extroverts provide a privilege demonstration

It’s kind of amazing. I wrote a post a while back about how introverts are not privileged in the USA. I wrote about ways in which introverts are cool and don’t get as much credit as they should and why introverts might not be the USA’s idea of perfect citizens. But quite a few extroverts who responded only read the post from a “How does this affect me?” standpoint. Numerous comments claimed “You said extroverts are [x], you are prejudiced for saying that” where [x] equals the opposite of something I said about introverts.

You know what that’s exactly like? It’s exactly like when I write a post about women and how awesome women can be and how we don’t always get the credit we deserve and male commenters flood in with “You said men suck, you are prejudiced.”

Of course, privilege leads people to unconsciously assume everything the less privileged ever say is a dig at them. Privileged men read claims that Women Are Cool Too and get nothing out of it but “Hey, this bitch isn’t worshiping my cock! How could she be so cruel! Mommy and Daddy promised me everyone would worship my gorgeous cock!” The extroverts in that thread are reading a post that basically describes how Introverts Are Cool Too and getting nothing out of it but “Hey, where’s the extrovert worship I’ve been promised everywhere I go all my life?”

Thanks, guys. I never could have demonstrated your privilege better with any amount of writing. You put on a great show for the benefit of everyone trying to examine their own privilege.

To be clear, here are the actual things I actually said about extroverts in the original article:

  • “Extroverts are people who need external stimulation from others.” One commenter wanted to quibble over the definition, which is okay, but for some reason she took it as an insult, which I’m still not getting. What is so insulting about saying someone needs external stimulation (from others, or from whatever, per her definition)?
  • “They’re more often in output mode than input, while extroverts are the other way around.” They meaning introverts.
  • “Introverts are less likely to engage in damaging relationships because they’re content to be alone.” Oddly, no one took offense at this, which is surprising, since with this comparison I am contending extroverts are more likely to put up with unhealthy relationships for the sake of not being alone. I anticipated this being controversial, but apparently it was not. Oooookay.

Comments

  1. GardenGoblin says

    Because in their world, saying ‘I like potato chips’ is the equivalent of saying ‘fritos suck and everybody who likes fritos is a loser’

    See, you have chosen to be different than me. Therefore, you are saying that you think there is something wrong with me. Because if you didn’t think there was something wrong with me, you would be agreeing with me, right? But you don’t agree with me and you have chosen a different path, therefore you are saying that my chosen path is wrong. So you being different and making different life choices isn’t you being your own person, it’s a direct and malicious attack on me and everything I stand for! And how dare you seek to insult me in such a manner!

    If you didn’t intend to insult all extroverts, obviously, you wouldn’t have chosen to be an introvert.

    And that is why you are wrong about everything, always, and are a horrible person.

    __________________________

    The sad part is there are people who would read the above, assume I was serious, and chime in with their heartfelt agreement.

  2. Lori says

    I don’t know if introversion offers any real inoculation from damaging relationships. It seems plausible to me that introverts may be less likely to enter such relationships, but it also seems plausible to me that we are also less likely, or slower, to exit them. Maybe it’s a stereotype, but I think of extroverts as more assertive, and I also think one thing that can make it easier to leave a bad relationship (or harder not to) is having a social life outside the relationship. Not sure about that, though. Maybe the extrovert, having more need for approval, would be more affected by whatever stigma there is with being a divorcee.

    That said, I’d generally go along with the original thesis that extroversion is privileged relative to introversion. Part of this is personal bias along the lines of the grass being greener on the other side. But in a market economy you have to market yourself. If extroverts are more likely to toot their own horns, sooner or later extroversion itself will be thought of as a skill set.

  3. Jennifer Kesler says

    That’s life as a privileged person. Someone who opts not to marry knows that every marriage out there is not a personal direct comment on their lifestyle – it would never occur to us, so used we are to being the invisible odd one out. But surprisingly, some married people DO take one’s single status as a direct comment on their marriage. Because privilege makes you think everything is about you.

  4. Jennifer Kesler says

    It IS a stereotype that extroverts are more assertive. There is no correlation between being assertive (or not) and either of the -verts. Additionally, you need not be assertive to dump a toxic relationship – many very passive people just sort of slip away from them quietly, without causing a confrontation in which they might fail to assert themselves. (And I didn’t just mean romantic relationships – relationships are also had with co-workers, family, friends, etc.)

  5. Nuria says

    Ditto kids. I’m sick and tired of people assuming that because I don’t want to have children a)I hate kids b)I’ve just not “grown up” yet c) I’m depriving my husband of fatherhood d) I’m a selfish bitch.

    I loved the post on introverted people, because I’m one.

  6. Jennifer Kesler says

    The “selfish” one especially gets my goat – there are really selfish reasons to have kids, and really unselfish reasons not to have kids. One’s parental status indicates absolutely nothing about one’s level of selflessness.

    And… depriving your husband? Jesus, I had hoped that one would be dead by now. What, do people not realize how easy it is to dump your spouse if you’re not happy? What do they suppose is keeping him tied to you, if he’s that miserable about not becoming a father?

  7. The Fleas' Knees says

    Wow. You might have written that in jest, but you just helped me understand something about my parents. This was their attitude on many levels, but since we’re on the introvert/extrovert subject, I was made to feel bad and deficient for spending time alone in my room. “Come out and be social,” “spend time with the family,” “don’t lock yourself away,” etc etc. The problem was not that I was different to them, the problem was that they put the burden of their misunderstanding my differences onto me, meaning I grew up feeling like I was wrong. That things I naturally liked to do and how I liked to be was wrong. It has been very damaging to my development and self esteem, things I still struggle with. Thanks for the insight.

  8. Casey says

    That’s a problem my parents had with me, to the point that they sent me to a therapist in my childhood, I stayed introverted but I stopped crying all the time for no reason, so I consider it a victory. However, to this day my mom pisses and moans about how that therapist was a “stupid-hack-ripoff” and that she just expected me to “grow out” of being introverted and that maybe she should have taken me to a psychiatrist to be “fixed” because all the therapist did was talk about my feelings and “feelings are bullshit” or some such nonsense.

  9. Y.H. says

    I’m an introvert myself, but when I read that article, the ending did strike me as rather offensive to extroverts at first. After all, you weren’t mentioning good qualities that introverts have; you were mentioning bad qualities that introverts don’t have, in an article that contrasts them with extroverts. Now, I realise that [if A implies not B, not A implies B] isn’t true. But that isn’t intuitive, and you have to give it some thought before realising so. Many of the comments you speak of were probably made before giving that thought. Which, frankly, says more about internet comments than about privilege…

  10. Jennifer Kesler says

    Actually, you’ve got it backwards. “Intuitive” is NOT reading implications into something. Reading implications into things is a learned behavior that people need to unlearn already. So I stand by my right to say what I mean and expect people NOT to read offensive implications into it.

  11. Y.H. says

    That’s a fair point. I’m still of the opinion that it’s faulty logic at work here, rather than privilege, but I think we can agree that it’s an undesirable element of society either way. So, y’know, keep doing what you’re doing. In spite any objections I might have, I always do enjoy reading your articles =)

  12. Lana G says

    Just stumbled across this article (talk about being late to the party!) and having read both, I can say, as an extrovert, I am privileged. And I know it. I already knew that my ability to market myself, to adapt to a crowd, to smile and please made me a, fit the preferred-female stereotype, and b, gave me an edge in job-hunting in this shitty economy. Where my more introverted friend has significant problems getting herself to call up potential employers or “ace that interview,” despite her skill set and education. And she can’t fight the system either, she has to “learn to be extroverted” – fake it till you make it. I’ve offered to role-play interviews with her to help her at least lessen the fear aspect of it (being rejected so many times is gonna leave a psychic mark), but at the end of the day: my ability to be outgoing is something that gives me a social edge.

    Random aside: not sure if my extroversion is an inherent trait, or a learned one, as I was very shy as a youngster, and was the one with “no friends.” I meet many of the “checklists” for introversion – except that I’m a social animal. (One who’s as happy on the internet as much as out and about with friends.) So I’m not sure how much of my extroversion is a learned trait, internalized because of society and its norms, or merely getting over my fear of social interactions (including lessening of a fear of rejection) which allowed natural extroversion to come to the fore of my personality. /shrug

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