The problem with pride (not that Pride)

Written by Frances Chassler

Pride is an interesting idea, one that makes me very uncomfortable for reasons I don’t fully understand. The idea of being pleased with something just rubs me the wrong way, I guess. Pride can often seem unjustified or flaunted or, on the other side of the spectrum, dismissed too easily. Is it healthy? Is it a sin? And what is it ok to be proud of?

The definition of pride is “a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of one’s close associates, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.” Which I think justifies my confusion, as it’s a shallow definition of something that can evoke strong and often problematic emotions on both ends of the spectrum.

I suppose the first thing I dislike about pride is that I find the idea of what you’re allowed to be proud of morally conflicted. To combat this I’ve tried to come up with some general rules relating to pride and morality.

First of all, you’re allowed to be proud of things you’ve achieved for yourself. Things like scoring a goal or not failing a test or even failing a test, because you still did that and if it makes you happy then you’re allowed to be proud of it. Even if you’re proud of unconventional accomplishments as long as you made them happen I think pride is justified. You can also be proud of others for the things they have achieved and generally, the same rules apply.

When it comes to ideas about race, sexuality and gender, things tend to get more complex and people are guaranteed to get more angry. Some broad statements I believe to be true are that you can’t be proud of being white, but you can be proud of being black, hispanic or Asian. You can’t be proud of being straight and cisgender but you can be proud of being LGBT+. You can’t be proud of being a man but you can be proud of being a woman or intersex. You can’t be proud of being born rich but you can be proud of being born poor.

Ok, I admit, this doesn’t leave white, hetero, rich men much automatic pride which can seem a bit harsh and some people may argue that I’m being racist and sexist, classist and homophobic, but the idea here is that what you lose in pride you make up for in privilege and vice-versa. It all comes back to the philosophy that you need to achieve something in order to be proud of yourself; white people don’t need to overcome anything based on their skin tone. It provides automatic privilege and in turn doesn’t warrant pride. Black people are allowed to be proud of their skin tone because it has the potential to make their life more difficult, allowing them to be proud because their overall existence could be harder because of it.

And let me reiterate: everyone can be proud of the things they’ve achieved and the achievements of people they know, even if they’re unconventional. And to be honest this really leaves something for everyone, so, like, let’s not shout at me.

About the author

Frances Chassler

lol no

1 Comment

  • true but i think the concept of pride is that you are proud of you’re achievement of bravely telling people your sexuality and not just being a gay

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