I was talking with a coworker the other day, who was telling me he’d been startled to go to one of those “are you in the 1%?” style online tools, and find out he was, while not in the 1%, certainly in the top 10% of Australian household incomes.
“I thought it’d be 40%, at most,” he said.
For context, we work in IT. Pretty much everyone within visual range is on six figures. Almost everyone has a spouse in a similarly white collar profession–if not the same one–including Coworker. We are, by any objective metric, the Australian upper class.
But very few people will admit this, because very few people feel like they’re upper class. I find this phenomenon fascinating, and it’s certainly not limited to Australians.
Incidentally, this is one of the reasons I try and be pretty upfront about my wealth- and class-privilege. Because I do live in a household that’s in the top single-digit percent of incomes–in pretty much any country–and I think denying this is one of the biggest things that contributes to people like me participating in social and political action that is disadvantageous to people with less wealth. Yes, it’s considered declasse, snobbish, and whatever to admit wealth. But you know what? Fine. I’ll be the token Rich Bitch™ in the office, and I’ll be fucking honest about it, because it means I’m not deluding myself that my income or my lifestyle is “normal”. Something like 96-98% of Australian families are financially less well off than I am, and in almost all cases that’s because they just didn’t luck out in the ways I did; I was born into one set of privileges and married into another. Yes, I have some innate talents going for me, but my social privilege is what has allowed me to capitalise on them. Recognising this–recognising I’m not a “self-made-woman” so much as I am a combined collection of privilege and opportunities–is the number one way I can stop myself from developing fucking awful opinions about people whose opportunities haven’t been as predefined as mine were.