If this is a satire piece, dear God, it’s a good one.
I stumbled across this little gem while on Tumblr, once again spending my time blogging and not really doing anything of importance. Once I saw it, I immediately knew I had to write some kind of response or parody to it. If this article really is satire, please let me know, and a huge fear that there are people out there who actually believe this kind of BS will disappear (clicking through to the author’s profile on ThoughtCatalog and reading his about page—which states that he writes about “men’s issues”—doesn’t really assuage that fear). Like my previous responses, I will be picking each point and offering my rebuttal. As a forewarning, many of the “issues” the author brings up have to do with the patriarchy, so I will be mentioning it quite a few times in this response. Let’s begin.
1. Female privilege is being able to walk down the street at night without people crossing the street because they’re automatically afraid of you. The idea that all men are rapists is conflated by misguided feminism (often called ‘straw feminists’) and ignorance. A women keeps her guard up around men because she knows she will be blamed if she “lets it down” and is raped. Women should not have to be afraid of men, but it is sadly the case that I (and other women that I know) am forced to cross the street at night because of this fear. Not all men are rapists, but the statistics about rape and sexual assault are shocking enough that it is nearly impossible for a woman to walk alone at night and not be afraid (this point also makes the assumption that most rapes happen between a woman and a stranger in a dark alley, when in reality women are more often assaulted by a friend or an acquaintance).
2. Female privilege is being able to approach someone and ask them out without being labeled “creepy.” Once again, I will use my previous response to respond to this point. Women are always on guard around men they don’t know. In addition, I advise those who protest about being labeled as “creepy” to think about the ways in which they’re asking these women out, and the response they get from them. Are you persistently approaching a woman even if she’s indicated that she is not attracted to you? Are you following her around or checking on her social media more often than what is considered normal?
3. Female privilege is being able to get drunk and have sex without being considered a rapist. Female privilege is being able to engage in the same action as another person but be considered the innocent party by default. This point (and many others that follow) engages in the idea that men cannot be raped. This idea was created, and still encouraged, by the patriarchy.
4. Female privilege is being able to turn on the TV and see yourself represented in a positive way. Female privilege is shows like King of Queens and Everybody Loves Raymond where women are portrayed as attractive, competent people while men are shown as ugly, lazy slobs. This idea that men are incompetent was also created, and is still encouraged, by the patriarchy.
5. Female privilege is the idea that women and children should be the first rescued from any sort of emergency situation. Female privilege is saving yourself before you save others and not being viewed as a monster. The idea that women are inherently weak and need to be saved by someone was created, and is still encouraged, by the patriarchy. Since women are the ones who ensure the continuation of the species, they are protected. This concept is adopted by the patriarchy and changed to ensure the dehumanization and subjugation of women.
6. Female privilege is being able to decide not to have a child. I don’t know if you know this, but men can also decide not to have a child, the process being extremely easy for them. And the process by which a woman decides not to have a child if she becomes pregnant (a.k.a. abortion) is heavily stigmatized by anti-choice groups across the globe. In addition, a man who decides not to have a child is praised for putting other aspects of his life first (career, education, etc), while a woman is often judged and shamed for choosing not to have a family for her own personal reasons (ever heard the phrase, “Your uterus clock is ticking?” How about, “You’ll want to have children eventually?” These, and many more, are used to shame women who choose to not have children).
7. Female privilege is not having to support a child financially for 18 years when you didn’t want to have it in the first place. The fact that men often have to pay for child support was created, and is still encouraged, by the patriarchy. This stems from the idea that women should remain in the private sphere of domestic life, and cannot be the main breadwinners of a family, so the man of the house must support them.
8. Female privilege is never being told to “take it like a man” or “man up.” This phrase, in my opinion, is one of the most poisonous things being said to our men today. It contributes to damaging stereotypes and emotional repression, and (guess what?!) was created by, and is still encouraged, by the patriarchy. If you’re still unsure about how this terrible example of the patriarchy backfiring on men works, please watch this video by The Representation Project (it’s a preview of one of their films, but I feel it expertly describes what I’m talking about here).
9. Female privilege is knowing that people would take it as a gravely serious issue if someone raped you. Female privilege is being able to laugh at a “prison rape” joke. The idea that men “cannot be raped,” and the dismissal of male rape victims was created, and is still encouraged, by the patriarchy. This concept takes many forms: men actually enjoy rape, since they want sex all the time; it is impossible for a woman to overpower a man because of her inherent weakness; a man should be able to “get over” his trauma because men are not supposed to show emotion; the list goes on and on. There are several feminist resources that deal with the issue of male sexual assault (as well as domestic abuse toward men).
10. Female privilege is being able to divorce your spouse when your marriage is no longer working because you know you will most likely be granted custody of your children. Women are given custody of children in a divorce because of society’s idea that women are natural caretakers, which (SURPRISE AGAIN!) was created, and is still encouraged, by the patriarchy.
11. Female privilege is being able to call the police in a domestic dispute knowing they will take your side. Female privilege is not having your gender work against where police are involved. Again, domestic disputes and abuse against men are often dismissed because men are viewed as being stronger than women and cannot be assaulted or abused in a domestic situation. This idea was (wait for it) created, and is still encouraged, by the patriarchy (In addition, there are records of female abuse by male police officers while seeking justice for a crime).
12. Female privilege is being able to be caring or empathetic without people being surprised. This is another popular point people try to make when talking about “female privilege.” Emotions such as empathy are often feminized, meaning that men who express these emotions are seen as weak or less than human. *sighs* This idea was created, and is still encouraged, by the patriarchy.
13. Female privilege is not having to take your career seriously because you can depend on marrying someone who makes more money than you do. Female privilege is being able to be a “stay at home mom” and not seem like a loser. As the 21st century rolls along, I see a lot of women taking their careers seriously due to the equalization of gender roles within relationships. The increase of “stay at home dads” (like my father when I was growing up) indicates to me that more and more couples are beginning to reorganize responsibilities within relationships. However, we still have these patriarchal notions that seep into our personal lives. Men often make more money than women due to the gender wage gap ($0.77 for every $1.00 that men make (and the numbers are even less for women of color), and women have often been encouraged to marry rich men, due to the patriarchal notion that women are not suited for the workplace and more suited for the domestic sphere. Men are seen as “losers” when they choose to stay at home and care for their children due to the idea that men are supposed to be the primary breadwinners and not caretakers of the family. Again, all these ideas were created, and are still encouraged, by the patriarchy.
14. Female privilege is being able to cry your way out of a speeding ticket. I don’t see what the author is trying to prove here. If he’s trying to say that men crying is seen as “unnatural,” I respond with what I can probably now type with my eyes closed: the idea that men are supposed to be closed off from all “female” emotions was created, and is still encouraged, by the patriarchy.
15. Female privilege is being favored by teachers in elementary, middle and high school. Female privilege is graduating high school more often, being accepted to more colleges, and generally being encouraged and supported along the way. I would actually like to say that the idea that girls are favored more in classrooms cannot be farther from the truth. Researcher Dale Spender did a study that used audio and video tape to document how often students of different genders talked in class, and how the teachers responded. What she found was astounding: regardless of the gender ratio of the students, whether the instructor was deliberately trying to encourage female participation or not, men always talked more—whether the metric was minutes of talking or number of words spoken. In addition, Spender asked the students participating to complete a form evaluating their perception of who talked more during discussions. Women were fairly accurate in their descriptions, but men perceived the discussion as being “equal” when women only talked about 15% of the time, and saw the discussion as being dominated by women when the female students talked only 30% of the time. I don’t have enough information to respond to the higher education part of the author’s argument, but I do know from the information I’ve read that men’s absence from higher education is a feminist issue, and has nothing to do with perceived “female privilege.”
16. Female privilege is being able to have an opinion without someone tell you you’re just “a butthurt fedora-wearing neckbeard who can’t get any.” I feel like this is a direct quote from someone the author has interacted with. I try to keep an open mind when it comes to those who have conflicting opinions with mine, but I just cannot sympathize with those whose opinions are completely based on false information with no factual basis. In addition, I have heard many more people call women with “unacceptable” opinions “butthurt feminists who just need to get f*cked” than men with opinions “butthurt fedora-wearing neckbeards who can’t get any.”
17. Female privilege is being able to talk about sexism without appearing self-serving. Men are open to talk about sexism in feminist spaces, but they are considered self-serving when they make it about themselves when the conversation does not call for it. One of the rules of being a good ally to any movement, whether that be racial equality, feminism, or gay rights, is to not make it all about yourself. I invite men to talk about sexism, and to consider themselves as important to the feminist movement as women, but many men I have encountered both on the Internet and in my own sphere go about it the wrong way—instead of trying to absolve yourself from any sexist attitudes, what I recommend is to check your privilege and use it to improve the situation of both men and women affected by the patriarchy.
18. Female privilege is arrogantly believing that sexism only applies to women. I will agree that bias exists against men. However, the definition of “sexism” is institutional discrimination and oppression of a person based on their sex. While women can have bias against men, this bias does not result in systemic oppression of men since women do not hold the majority of positions of power to do so.
I will end this response post (which was a doozy) with a quote from another WordPress article regarding gender and oppression: “Gender is the chain, and male supremacy is the ball. Just because males sometimes trip over that chain does not erase that fact that the ankle it’s cuffed to is always female.” Institutional oppression created by the patriarchy affects women most of all, and the notion of “female privilege” simply does not exist. Many of the issues brought up by the author as support of this mythical privilege actually have their basis in patriarchy, a social system feminists are currently working hard to dismantle. If the author, or anyone else who agrees with his article, is so concerned about “female privilege,” I strongly encourage them to open any introductory book about feminism and gender equality, or even to talk to many well-meaning feminists on Internet forums or even in a gender studies classes (we don’t bite!). They’ll find, with a little education, that these problems go much deeper than they think.