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.