I’m going to try really hard not to rant, but my fur is ruffled and I want to bite. The past couple weeks have reminded me why sometimes its really frustrating being a woman but also that the experiences I’ve encountered are very much specific to women. So I’m going to get personal here and tell you some of my life frustrations right now and what provoked them.
Male Privilege #1 – men don’t have to insist ” I don’t hate women”.
I lost my shit the other day, I was angry and almost every male I knew had found a way to piss me off. I ranted to a male friend who jokingly used the well known phrase of meninists everywhere “but not all men!”, I chuckled, I continued my death to all men rant and then I found myself thinking I should tell him I don’t really think that. Cause I don’t hate all men, in fact I have male friends (I sound like that person trying to not be racist! “I have black friends!!”), I’ve had sexual and romantic relationships with men, and I have good male familial figures in my life. But what I do hate is their given advantages in society and most men’s inability to recognise those advantages. So when I say “I hate all men”, “death to all men” or my personal favourite and most frequently used “fucking straight white men”, it’s coming from a place of frustration and anger but not malicious intent. Despite this, I often have to defend myself for my hyperbolic outbursts as if I’m actually about to gun down a room of men! Men, however, don’t have to do this. If I had a quid for every time I’ve heard a guy say something along the lines of “ugh I hate when girls do that”, “that girl’s a feminazi” and “that girl was sending out messages acting/dressing like that”, I could pay back my student loan. Three fold. Men don’t have to follow this up with “but I don’t hate all women”. They are free to criticise and analyse us freely without the fear of being labelled as women haters, yet a women who complains about a man can be labelled many bad things. If you’re not quite getting it yet, here’s a huge example, Donald Trump being able to say that he would grab women by the pussy, still be president and actually having people defend him as NOT BEING misogynist, is the epitome of male privilege.
Male Privilege #2 – Men make up most of our huge industries, including the arts.
I’m currently sitting in a room, where I can count the amount of women in here on one hand, including myself. At a conference of around 500, there might be 40-50 female attendees and all other females present are hospitality staff. It’s a games industry conference and it doesn’t surprise me but it still hurts. I know this isn’t a singular experience, my sister, now a studio lead but made her way as a sound designer, has for years been one of few women in her field. She has even been assumed to be ‘the girlfriend’, at industry events, despite working for some of most successful games companies. This also isn’t exclusive to games, film is still a man’s world, music executives are still mainly male, men are encouraged into prominent positions daily and yet there is still the argument that women can’t excel in the same way, just because they can carry children/have vaginas. Not whether or not they wish to have children, it is still assumed that children is the natural step for women as they age. Men don’t get positions held back from them for fear they might become parents and they certainly don’t have comments saying their hormones may effect how they lead. But it’s not all doom and gloom, women are making progress in many industries but the playing field isn’t level and when we have industries and governments made up primarily of men, making decisions for those of all genders, the social, economical and political advantages men have will be perpetuated even further.
Male Privilege #3 – Your sexuality is not a free for all.
When I moved back to my home town, I downloaded ALL of the dating apps. I thought it would get me out of the house, meeting new people and hopefully something fun. Boy was I wrong! Being a women on a dating app sucks, for starters, you have to think extremely carefully about what you write, if you wanna be ho, you can’t be that direct about it because you will get shitty messages and if you have too many prerequisites, no one will ever talk to you. And then there’s just existing on the apps and it leading to about 95% of messages being sexually explicit, degrading or just plain dumb.
So on the rare occasion you start talking to someone who seems normal, it might go okay, you may go for drinks, you might hook up, whatever. Or you have moments that make you want to change your indentity and never leave the house. For example, I was grabbing some lunch on my work break and my general routine is loud music and avoid all interactions until necessary. I ordered my food, chatted to the server for a bit, paid and went on my merry way. My phone buzzed and a message from a guy, off a dating app, who I had politely declined, had decided to tell me that he saw me in the food establishment and didn’t want to impose by saying hi. The message was creepy, with a dash of guilt tripping, and it made me feel uncomfortable. I don’t know this guy, we spoke for a bit but I wasn’t interested, I don’t owe him anything, yet his message inferred I did. He “didn’t want to impose”, yet had done precisely that, by the message. As a single woman in her 20s, I should not have to explain myself for not wanting to pursue every message I get on a dating app, I should be able to buy lunch without some guy telling me that he saw me, when we hadn’t even met! Yet, if you ignore sexually explicit messages, you get called all sorts, bombarded with more messages and even some guys trying to guilt trip you into speaking to them. Now as a queer lady, I can tell you that these kind of messages from women are rare or non-existent.
Women’s sexuality is constantly commented upon, analysed, and treated as if it can be a constant public issue but also for the average male to comment upon and feel owed to. Whilst men’s sexuality is still public and spoken about, its in a more positive light and they are given more freedom.
Women are still called sluts, whores or cheap for having multiple sexual partners, if they talk openly about sex, it’s often seen as an invitation for sexual advances. They are shamed for showing too much body, have nipples censored on Instagram and are told off for breastfeeding in public and if a woman’s nudes leak they are forced to apologise for taking the pictures and not to mention women’s nudes often being used as revenge.
Men can, however, with less judgement and sometimes even encouragement: have multiple sexual partners, can talk openly about sex, walk down the street shirtless, have their nipples on Instagram, aren’t shamed for their online nudes and a whole bunch of other stuff.
Male privilege #4 – Assuming that the male experience (often, the straight, white middle class one) is the only one that matters.
“I don’t think so”
“yeah but this happened to me”
“men have it just as bad”
These are just some of the responses I’ve encountered when talking, about male privilege or the oppression of women, with men; especially with the dialogue surrounding International Women’s Day. The day itself was a mix for me as on one side you have the celebration of women’s successes and progression and then you have the butt hurt males shouting that it’s unfair women have a day. Men are more concerned with not offending other men, then they are for sticking up for equal rights. So many men refuse to believe that we live in a patriarchal society, that women are still oppressed even in 2017, or that a women’s experience and opinion matters. It’s more than just a guy you know telling a women she’s wrong or not trusting their choices or authority, it seeps into our media and becomes about representation and the experiences we broadcast to the world. If we can still have men accused or charged of rape, let off because it might ‘damage their future’ yet not find justice for the victims, many of whom are women, even though that experience can cause irreparable damage to their future. It’s telling women that their experience is not as important as men’s, that their social standing is not equal. When we live in a world where men run most of the large media corporations, we have a continued stream of stories for male audiences and often stories that perpetuate heteronormative ideals and when women are given representation in stories, they can become one dimensional characters that serve as a purpose for their male counterpart. Women’s experience is uniquely different from men’s but also shares similarities and women deserve the right and respect to have these experiences told and brought to the forefront. But it’s more likely that we will have ten more male superhero films before we get a black widow film!
I could go on and this is only the surface! This blog and my frustrations come from a place of dissatisfaction, of wanting better for my fellow women but also wanting the best for everyone. Male privilege (particular that of the straight, white and wealthy kind) not only raises men up above women, but also brings down the men who don’t fall into that group.
Men, recognise your privilege and please learn and listen to the women around you, who tell you about their struggles. Our experience is unique, valid and part of humanity.
End of rant.