Why “Male Privilege List” Is Garbage, Part II

Now let’s look at some of the statements on “The Male Privilege List” in greater detail. I will respond to them in terms of my “female privilege.”

4. If I fail in my job or career, I can feel sure this won’t be seen as a black mark against my entire sex’s capabilities.

If I fail in my job or career or end up with no job or career whatsoever this will have absolutely no impact on my gender identity. Even though I am passionately invested in my career and adore my job, losing them will never make feel like I’m not woman enough.

6. If I do the same task as a woman, and if the measurement is at all subjective, chances are people will think I did a better job.

Any task? What about learning languages? Being organized and responsible in school? Cooking? Communicating with people? Being emotionally competent? Raising children? In a sexist world, all these and many many other tasks are the exclusive purview of women.

9. If I choose not to have children, my masculinity will not be called into question.

Seriously? Since when? I can’t even count the number of times I heard jokes about men who have or haven’t been able to “prove their masculinity” by getting their female partners pregnant. I know a man who told all and sundry that he managed to get his wife pregnant on their wedding night with the kind of pride that was so intense as to be scary.

10. If I have children but do not provide primary care for them, my masculinity will not be called into question.

But if a man fails to provide for them financially, it absolutely will be called into question. And a lot.

11. If I have children and provide primary care for them, I’ll be praised for extraordinary parenting if I’m even marginally competent. (More).

Not true. Actually, what is much more likely is that a father who stays at home with children will have his masculinity questioned.

12. If I have children and a career, no one will think I’m selfish for not staying at home.

But if a man has any number of children and no career, he will be ridiculed in ways no woman ever will.

13. If I seek political office, my relationship with my children, or who I hire to take care of them, will probably not be scrutinized by the press.

If a man seeks political office, everybody will take it in their stride that he has a wife whose mission in life is to assist him. Nobody will make fun of the arrangement. Don’t believe me? Look at the way Todd Palin is ridiculed for not making as much money as Sarah Palin.

16. As a child, chances are I was encouraged to be more active and outgoing than my sisters. (More).

This is a wild generalization. All families are different. As an Aspie child, I was persecuted by people who tried to make me “more active and outgoing.” These attributes have nothing to do with gender, so I’m not even sure what they are doing on this list.

17. As a child, I could choose from an almost infinite variety of children’s media featuring positive, active, non-stereotyped heroes of my own sex. I never had to look for it; male protagonists were (and are) the default.

I don’t know when the author’s childhood happened, but if you turn on the television today, you will see as many images of men who are either bumbling, inept fools or violent criminals as you can possibly stomach.

19. If my day, week or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether or not it has sexist overtones.

I actually think you do, whether you are a man or a woman.

20. I can turn on the television or glance at the front page of the newspaper and see people of my own sex widely represented.

Where are all these TV shows that refuse to feature women? Can anybody think of a single night of scheduled TV programming where no or almost no women appear on the screen? Unless you limit your TV watching to the Stanley Cup, then I fail to see how you manage to miss all those female folks on television.

21. If I’m careless with my financial affairs it won’t be attributed to my sex.

If I, as a woman, mess up financially, I can always get a man to help me out. And nobody will question that or ridicule the arrangement. When I mention to people that my husband helps me out financially, they always say, “Oh, that’s great!” When I mention that I supported my ex-husband financially, they always say, “Oh, what a jerk and a total deadbeat!” Incidentally, what are the female versions of “jerk” and “deadbeat”?

23. I can speak in public to a large group without putting my sex on trial.

I speak in public to small, medium-sized and large groups on a regular basis. I dig it, to be honest. Not a single time did I feel that my sex was an issue of any kind. Now, of course, I will hear that I’m simply oblivious because of my autism.

24. Even if I sleep with a lot of women, there is no chance that I will be seriously labeled a “slut,” nor is there any male counterpart to “slut-bashing.” (More).

However, if a man is sexually unsuccessful and doesn’t manage to sleep with anybody, his prestige among his peers will be extremely low. In terms of getting access to sex, a man often has to prove his worthiness by courting a woman, waiting until “she is ready”, satisfying her or prepare to be ridiculed or rejected. As a woman, all I had to do to meet men was go to a public place and sit there. Or stand. Or walk around. It was up to men to find the courage to initiate the conversation and prepare for many rejections until a woman finally agreed to hear them out. Have you tried approaching people you like and striking up a conversation? Unless you are extremely confident and secure, this might be very daunting.

26. My clothing is typically less expensive and better-constructed than women’s clothing for the same social status. While I have fewer options, my clothes will probably fit better than a woman’s without tailoring. (More).

I don’t know where the author of this list does his shopping. Maybe I should ask him for some pointers. I’ve accompanied N. on quite a few shopping trips for clothing and I have to tell you, it’s incredibly harder to find anything for a man. Less expensive? I can find a killer dress for under $30 in matter of minutes. Try to buy a man’s outfit (mind you, you’ll need something to cover his entire body) for this amount that does not look cheap, isn’t extremely scratchy, and will not disintegrate after the first wash. And have you tried buying gifts for men? Can you honestly tell me that it’s harder to find a gift for a woman than it is for a man?

27. The grooming regimen expected of me is relatively cheap and consumes little time. (More).

Unless, of course, you are a man who works in a corporate environment and needs to shave twice a day.

29. If I’m not conventionally attractive, the disadvantages are relatively small and easy to ignore.

Just tell it to a man who hasn’t had a date in five years. Loneliness and constant rejection must be so totally easy to ignore.

30. I can be loud with no fear of being called a shrew. I can be aggressive with no fear of being called a bitch.

But you might be called a creep, a potential rapist, a jerk, and many other nice, endearing things.

31. I can ask for legal protection from violence that happens mostly to men without being seen as a selfish special interest, since that kind of violence is called “crime” and is a general social concern. (Violence that happens mostly to women is usually called “domestic violence” or “acquaintance rape,” and is seen as a special interest issue.)

How about sexual abuse of minors by teachers? When a 14-year-old boy is raped by his female teacher, lots of extenuating circumstances immediately crop up. When a male teacher rapes a 14-year-old girl, consequences are a lot more dire.

34. I will never be expected to change my name upon marriage or questioned if I don’t change my name.

When I blogged about name-change as being unfeminist, crowds of people descended on my blog to excoriate me for my position. Strangely enough, the absolute majority of these folks were women. So I really have to wonder who is truly invested in this name changing and for what reasons.

37. Most major religions argue that I should be the head of my household, while my wife and children should be subservient to me.

I guess Christianity is not a major religion, then. It’s either that or I invented the story about this guy Jesus who defended an adulterous woman and made her his disciple instead of sending her back to her male head of household to be all subservient to him.

38. If I have a wife or live-in girlfriend, chances are we’ll divide up household chores so that she does most of the labor, and in particular the most repetitive and unrewarding tasks. (More).

Also, chances are that you will end up expected (by both of you) to carry the brunt of financial burden for the family. Seriously, what’s harder: heating up a pizza in a microwave or confronting a bunch of bills every month?

39. If I have children with my girlfriend or wife, I can expect her to do most of the basic childcare such as changing diapers and feeding.

You can also expect to lose custody in the divorce proceedings and have to accept only seeing your kids once a week. If you are very lucky, that is.

42. In general, I am under much less pressure to be thin than my female counterparts are. (More). If I am fat, I probably suffer fewer social and economic consequences for being fat than fat women do. (More).

Once again, I have to wonder if all those recent articles making fun of Chris Christie for being fat are a figment of my diseased imagination.

43. If I am heterosexual, it’s incredibly unlikely that I’ll ever be beaten up by a spouse or lover. (More).

Now, let’s not exaggerate. It is less likely you will be beaten up by a woman. But not “incredibly unlikely.” This is simply not true.

45. On average, I am not interrupted by women as often as women are interrupted by men.

Yes, what a huge tragedy. Getting interrupted, that must be such a burden. Of course, if you get shot in the back by your wife while you are asleep, she will be released almost immediately. If you shoot her in the back, you probably will not.

46. I have the privilege of being unaware of my male privilege.

I’m a woman and I also have the privilege of being unaware of any male privilege that exists in some sort of vacuum, unaccompanied by great female privilege. Once again, a sexist system oppresses us all. But it also offers us all something in return for the oppression. Any discussion of who is “more privileged” under the system of gender stereotypes is futile. We are wasting our time compiling such lists, people. All of these endless arguments whose only goal is to arrive at a conclusion as to whether men or women suffer more because of sexism lead nowhere. Can’t we just agree that we all suffer from it and start moving along towards subverting this system?

“Gender wars” are a sine qua non of sexism. Lists like this one promote the idea that one gender is constantly aggrieved and victimized by the other. The reality we live in is surely sexist. It is not, however, nearly as sexist as this list.

Sorry for such a long post.

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31 comments on “Why “Male Privilege List” Is Garbage, Part II

  1. All of these endless arguments whose only goal is to arrive at a conclusion as to whether men or women suffer more because of sexism lead nowhere.
    Agreed and I’d also like to add that one group trying to define another group’s experiences is also futile.

    I did a post a short while ago on an an attempt at trying to just list all this shit out and am currently working on a v.2 of it.

    http://dannyscorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/2011/09/gender-symmetry-checklist_15.html

  2. I think I have a crush on y……. your writing! Very good stuff – especially the concluding paragraphs.
    There are 3 points I have something to add:

    “21. If I’m careless with my financial affairs it won’t be attributed to my sex.”

    Nonsense. Anyone else heard the terms “man-cession” or “he-cession”? Basically the financial crisis is all about men and their harmful masculinity…according to mainstream media.

    “29. If I’m not conventionally attractive, the disadvantages are relatively small and easy to ignore.”

    Try being a short man then. Their ceiling isn’t made of glass – it’s cast iron and it’s not only in the corporate world but everywhere (except perhaps horse racing). Try finding a date for a man who’s, say, 5’5″. He’d have to be a millionaire to stand a chance and even then, she will almost certainly only want his money and not him. So much for men being more shallow than women. At least you can do something about your weight.

    “46. I have the privilege of being unaware of my male privilege.”

    This is the worst of them all because, aside from being a fallacy, it also shuts down discussion and silences any concerns that one group may have. It’s like saying “You’re not allowed to call yourself oppressed because the dictator says so. And the fallacy is blatantly obvious: If you can say to somebody “you don’t know how privileged you are” then you can say it to the other group(s) just the same. It works both ways – but funnily I’ve only ever heard it directed at men. It’s a pointless thing to say anyway – on the same level as “well you can’t prove god doesn’t exist therefore he exists. There is no verifying or disproving such a statement.

    • Thank you for the kind words, Adi!

      “Anyone else heard the terms “man-cession” or “he-cession”? Basically the financial crisis is all about men and their harmful masculinity…according to mainstream media.”

      -Good point!

      “Try being a short man then. Their ceiling isn’t made of glass – it’s cast iron and it’s not only in the corporate world but everywhere (except perhaps horse racing). Try finding a date for a man who’s, say, 5’5″.”

      =I wanted to add that when I was writing the post but I forgot. So it’s great that you bring this up.

      “This is the worst of them all because, aside from being a fallacy, it also shuts down discussion and silences any concerns that one group may have.”

      -Oh, yes. This is why I absolutely hate this kind of statements. They make any dialogue completely impossible.

  3. If I fail in my job or career or end up with no job or career whatsoever this will have absolutely no impact on my gender identity. Even though I am passionately invested in my career and adore my job, losing them will never make feel like I’m not woman enough.

    You say it as somebody 1)married 2) with a great job .
    From what I’ve seen men with uni education want independent women with education, where independent means money, not a bad career.
    Having “no job or career whatsoever” guarantees min 90% of those men won’t look in one’s direction.

    I think of starting dating and worry that since I am yet uni student without money, many won’t want to date me in the end. Since I am 26, not 21.

    • With all due respect, you have absolutely no understanding of the nature of sexual desire. Stop worrying about jobs, money, education, etc. Nobody will desire you for them. Instead, you can work on your sexual and psychological health.

      I’ve only had my brilliant job for 2 years. Before, I have known extreme poverty and all kinds of privations. But that had absolutely nothing whatsoever with the overwhelming success I have had (and will always have) as a woman.

      • My mother thinks the same and tells to say you “thank you” since she hopes I’ll listen at least to you. I too want to thank you. Reading this is like therapy.

  4. Hi Clarissa,

    I am suspicious you are pampering to your male audience with this post. I might say we love it :)

    However the point is valid: Male privilege doesn’t exist in a vacuum; Recognition that sexism is a problem for everybody is the first step; The solution is to move everybody forward together.

    For exercise I added some of my own mitherings to your list :)

    “11. If I have children and provide primary care for them, I’ll be praised for extraordinary parenting if I’m even marginally competent. (More).”

    Try school drop off and pickup as a man, what chances do you think you have of finding someone to share one direction?

    14. My elected representatives are mostly people of my own sex. The more prestigious and powerful the elected position, the more this is true.

    I live in Australia where the Prime Minister, Governor General and my State Premier are all women. In fact until recently 4 out of 8 of the Premiers/Chief Officers of our states and territory’s were women. The mayor of my council area is also a woman as is my local state politician and my federal member. In fact I have nobody that represents me that is male.
    (This is just an example to show it is unlikely to find one male that ticks all the boxes on one of these lists)

    “22. If I’m careless with my driving it won’t be attributed to my sex.”

    So why do young men find it more difficult and more expensive than young women to get car insurance in the country that I live in ?

    “36. Every major religion in the world is led primarily by people of my own sex. Even God, in most major religions, is pictured as male.”

    I am an atheist, I don’t want to be led by a religious leader of any sex. I don’t believe in the existence of any god so believe the question of his/her sex is silly.

    37. Most major religions argue that I should be the head of my household, while my wife and children should be subservient to me.

    I am an atheist, I can’t realistically get away with telling my wife that some make believe being said I was the boss.

    36 and 37 have been written by people with a narrow world view, atheists make up a reasonable proportion of the population in New Zealand, Australia and Northern European countries.

    BTW What chance does a white male atheist have of becoming president of the US? I think we will see a woman first.

    • “I am suspicious you are pampering to your male audience with this post. I might say we love it”

      -The truth of the matter is that, although I am very happy that male readers like these posts, my main reason for writing them was because the male privilege list offends my sensibilities as a woman and a feminist. I am very frustrated with this trend in contemporary feminism that is dedicated to presenting women as perennial victims. This is disempowering, humiliating, and not helpful to the cause of gender equality.

      As a feminist, I want true equality. I want people’s physiology to stop being assigned a social and cultural meaning. I want freedom from gender stereotypes. And that freedom will either come to all of us or to none of us.

      “So why do young men find it more difficult and more expensive than young women to get car insurance in the country that I live in ?”

      -Good point! Insurance companies, indeed, are more eager to offer car insurance to women and do it cheaper.

      Also, in many places, landlords are more interested in letting apartments to single women than single men.

      “What chance does a white male atheist have of becoming president of the US”

      -I think an atheist has no chance of becoming president here. :-(

      • “I want people’s physiology to stop being assigned a social and cultural meaning.”

        Can we do this in every case? For instance, car insurance for women is cheaper for men because the insurance companies have enough data to show women represent a lower risk.

        In a world where physiology doesn’t matter I am pretty sure this gap would close.

        But what do we do as a first step? Should we charge everybody the same amount for insurance?

      • I’ve had an opportunity to get intimately acquainted with how risk assessment at insurance companies works (by husband is a quant) and the whole thing is so convoluted and outside of regular logic that I don’t think anybody can get involved with it in a productive way.

      • I am a mathematician who has spent some time working as an actuary. At the mathematical level it isn’t that convoluted it is only when they try to package it up into products it gets complex.

      • ‘At the mathematical level it isn’t that convoluted it is only when they try to package it up into products it gets complex.”

        -Exactly. The company I’m talking about had a table I could use to see what their prediction for my lifespan was. That was kind of disturbing.

  5. There are many good points raised in this post and in the comments. I do want to add one thing, though…this:

    “Anyone else heard the terms “man-cession” or “he-cession”? Basically the financial crisis is all about men and their harmful masculinity…according to mainstream media.”

    …is not true. Those terms refer to the idea that the recession has disproportionately affected men because they now make up only half the workforce. It’s the opposite of blaming harmful masculinity, it’s about pitying men and having concern for the jobs they’ve lost in the recession.

    • Melissa your absolutely correct

      From Investopedia we have:

      “What Does Mancession Mean?
      An economic instance in which the unemployment rate is substantially higher among men than it is among women. The term “mancession” was coined during the financial crisis of 2008-2009, during which men bore the brunt of the job losses in the United States, at rates close to 50% higher than those of women.”

      Losing jobs at rates close to 50% higher than women doesn’t seem like that male privilege was working too well.

      But hey #21 is still crap

      “21. If I’m careless with my financial affairs it won’t be attributed to my sex.”

      If your a man who is careless with his financial affairs then nearly every women’s magazine in the world has run an article on how unfit for marriage you are (even though your putative spouse may be a financial whiz and happy to take control).

      • Yes, thanks for clearing that up. I’d misplaced those terms in the wrong subcategory. My point remains valid nonetheless because the mainstream media has indeed been ascribing much if not all of the financial crisis to stereotypical masculine behaviour.
        Just the words mancession or hecession were not actually used to describe it.

  6. “If your a man who is careless with his financial affairs then nearly every women’s magazine in the world has run an article on how unfit for marriage you are (even though your putative spouse may be a financial whiz and happy to take control).”

    Well the difference is between “he’s bad with money, because it’s a character flaw specific to him. He’d be a bad choice of husband, because there are plenty of men out there who aren’t bad with money.” or… “she’s bad with money because she’s a woman. They’re all naturally bad with money.”

    • The ground truth is that women account for 85% of all consumer purchases including everything from autos to health care. That must mean an awful lot of men are ignoring the idea that women are bad with money and trusting them to make good decisions.

      Where does this fallacy come from? Clearly not the millions of men that are relying on these women to make sound financial choices.

  7. These are some very interesting points; the List itself certainly glosses over all of these in order to pluck on the ‘feels right’ strings of those who feel put-upon or done-down.

    I’d be interested to hear you comment on some of the posts on MicroAggressions.com. I don’t disagree with the premise per se, but there are many that I read that seem indulgent.

    • Speaking of indulgence one at that place one thing I noticed very quickly is that only certain microaggressions are allowed.

      From their own FAQ:
      Identities that are not systematically marginalized are also not appropriate for this blog.

      This probably explains why shortly after they started I submitted one about a feminist that told me my body image issues had nothing to do with my gender and were fat related only (yes apparently when it comes to fat hated only women have an intersection of fat and gender but men only have to deal with the fat) never showed up. They have their own feminist influenced definitions of the usual words (“oppression”, “privilege”, etc…) and I’d pay money to see even one microaggression that’s made it onto that site that called out a feminist.

      • “Identities that are not systematically marginalized are also not appropriate for this blog.”

        – Don’t tell me that somebody seriously wrote this sentence. This is just too weird.

        I haven’t had time to visit the site yet but after this, I don’t think I want to.

      • I wish you could go there and prove I’m lying but I assure you I am not.

        http://microaggressions.com/faq

        I stopped checking the place out about a month after it launched. Its pretty clear that only certain microaggressions are welcome there and given the feminist slant of the site I’m sure you can think which ones are welcome and which ones are not.

      • I just followed the link and yes, you were right. And they don’t sound like they are being humorous about it.

        Something tells me that my brand of feminism would not be very welcome on that site.

        This is just sad.

  8. With all this talk of privilege, I wonder if Clarissa will notice much of a difference between the US and say Canada and the Ukraine. It has always been my feeling that the attitudes to women in the US are in some ways stuck in the 1950s. It seems to me that this colours much of the feminist thinking that occurs there.

  9. “I guess Christianity is not a major religion, then. It’s either that or I invented the story about this guy Jesus who defended an adulterous woman and made her his disciple instead of sending her back to her male head of household to be all subservient to him.”

    Where did you get the idea that Christianity is all about what Jesus said or did?
    :-)

  10. Thank you for writing that. It very rare for someone to be able to put themselves in another’s shoes and understand the unfairness they face, and all too common for people with an agenda to get very good at deliberately ignoring what others go through. Good show Clarissa.

  11. Pingback: Who Needs a Reason to Hate Ann Romney? « Clarissa's Blog

  12. Pingback: Why “Female Privilege List” Is Garbage | Clarissa's Blog

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