Saturday, December 13, 2014

A Question of Privilege

Just recently, a fight broke out over on my friend Andy Beals page.  I have to apologize to him about that, because part of it was my fault and I certainly didn't mean to start a war on his page.  Anyway, during a digression regarding shaming tactics and how they were used by people to defend their positions of privilege rather than deal with criticism of that privilege, I mentioned that women themselves were not bereft of privilege, and that implying that only men (specifically white men) were privileged was to directly state a falsehood.  (That is, the idea was a great big lie.)

In response, a rather obstinate and fallacy-loving woman named Judith Merriam stepped in and made the following comment:


"I'm going to point and laugh now about a man arguing that feminists have the "entrenched privilege" in this society."


I find it interesting to note that, as I have already pointed out is common with fringe feminist extremists like Ms. Merriam, she is conflating "woman" with "feminist", and is assuming that any criticism of "feminism" is actually a criticism of "women."  That she cannot get her head around the truth (that "feminism" and "women" are two separate concepts entirely, and that criticism of one is not criticism of the other) shows you just about where this argument headed shortly thereafter.


In any case, her denial that such a thing as female privilege even exists prompts me to supply the following list.  This list is not original to me.  It was originally written by activist Karen Straughan, a woman who is the first person I point to whenever someone says that "MRAs" are all just a bunch of angry men who hate women.


Straughan has this to say about the concept of social privilege:

"It's a contest these days, and to hear people talk, everyone's vying for the prized spot at the very, very, very bottom.  Discussions of race, class, sexuality, gender and gender identity, disability, economic status, education level, all seem to devolve into a bizarre exercise in "one-downmanship" where everyone clamors that they are a more victimy victim than anyone else.
But some things really are black and white -- at least they seem so.  When considering things like male/female gender privilege, you need only consider the bilateral -- that is, how does one play out in relation to the other?  That is, what privileges do men enjoy solely due to their gender that women of similar economic class, education level, race, able-bodiedness, sexual orientation, etc. etc. do not?
And conversely -- and contrary to what many feminists believe -- what privileges do women enjoy that men do not, all things being equal?  I was asked by a feminist to name one example of so-called "female privilege".  Rather than name one, I named over seventy of them."


This is her Female Privilege Checklist.  Straughan asks, "Women are requested to consider whether they can answer "yes" to these questions."


  1. Are people likely to assume I am a warm and empathetic person, just because of my gender?
  2. Are people likely to assist me when I must perform a physically arduous task, just because of my gender?
  3. If my car breaks down or I am otherwise in distress, are people more likely to stop and help me, just because of my gender?
  4. If I am being physically assaulted, no matter the gender of my assailant, it is more likely that passersby will intervene?
  5. Are people are likely to assume I am a competent parent, unless and until I prove otherwise?
  6. Are people are more likely to respect my right to be offended by inappropriate or impolite behavior?
  7. If I act in a cruel or verbally abusive manner to members of the opposite gender, I am likely to have people assume I am automatically in the right?
  8. If I yell or otherwise make an aggressive display, are people less likely to believe I am going to hurt them physically?
  9. Are dress codes in the workplace and in leisure contexts more likely to allow me to choose clothing that emphasize my most attractive features and minimize those I am unhappy with?
  10. Am I allowed by society to wear cosmetics to make myself more attractive without anyone questioning my sexual orientation?
  11. Am I given a large social leeway in the kinds of hairstyles I can choose that will flatter my facial features?
  12. If I work in a profession that is dominated by the opposite gender, are people likely to see it as "heroic", or a sign of social progress, rather than that I am deficient or less capable of other members of my gender in some way?
  13. If I am sexually harassed in the workplace and lodge a complaint, am I more likely to be believed than a person of the opposite gender making the same complaint would be?
  14. If I making crude or sexually explicit jokes at the workplace, am I less likely to cause coworkers of the opposite gender to complain about sexual harassment to my supervisor than I would were I a member of the opposite gender?
  15. If I show weakness in public, is the first response most people have to me consolation and assistance, rather than criticizing me for weakness, ignoring me, or dismissing me as pathetic?
  16. Am I expected to not make the "first move" when meeting members of the opposite sex for the purposes of dating?  Are members of the opposite gender expected to make the "first move?"  Therefore, is it less likely I will be sexually rejected by those I come into close contact with in a dating context?
  17. Am I expected to not spend a significant portion of my yearly income on a token that accompanies a marriage proposal?
  18. Am I less likely to be expected to spend a significant amount of money on gifts, tokens, and activities during courtship and dating?
  19. If I am having dinner with a member of the opposite gender in a dating context, and I do not reach for the check, are people unlikely to assume I am cheap.
  20. If I am having dinner with a member of the opposite gender in a non-dating context, and I do not reach for the check, are people still unlikely to assume I am cheap?
  21. If I am heterosexual and I refuse sexual intercourse with a person of the opposite gender, especially if that person is considered greatly attractive, will neither my sexual orientation nor my gender identity be called into question?
  22. If I am homosexual, are sexual acts between my partner and myself more likely to be seen as acceptable by heterosexuals than if I and my partner were members of the opposite gender?
  23. Am I much more likely to get away with using gender-derived insults (cocksucker, cunt, dickhead, prick, pussy, twat, and so on) without having someone call me out for using "sexist" terminology than they would were I a member of the opposite gender?
  24. If I earn less than my partner, am I considered a failure by society?
  25. If I earn nothing at all and my partner supports me completely, am I considered a failure by society?
  26. If I am unemployed and my partner is supporting me, are people other than my partner unlikely to pressure me because I am "not trying hard enough" to find employment?
  27. If I choose to discontinue, temporarily leave, or reduce my participation in a high-status career in order to spend more time at home caring for my children, are people likely to consider it a "noble sacrifice" rather than a waste of my talents?
  28. If I make the choice to be a stay-at-home parent and take care of my children while my partner is supporting me, are people other than my partner unlikely to pressure me to "get a real job"?  Am I unlikely to be seen as a deadbeat, unskilled, or shirking my responsibility to my family?
  29. If I earn less than my partner, are people unlikely to expect me to nevertheless contribute equally to our living expenses?
  30. If I am skilled in activities or hobbies that are commonly attributed to the opposite gender (kickboxing, operating power tools, shingling a roof, knitting, scrap-booking, floral arranging, and so on) are other people likely to see me as admirable rather than that I am weak, strange, or homosexual?
  31. If I am completing a task along with a member of the opposite gender, will they be expected to take on the greater physical burden (such as carrying and moving heavy objects)?
  32. If I am injured and start crying, are other people unlikely to tell me to "suck it up?"
  33. If an employer claims to have "non-sexist" hiring policies, can I assume this to mean that members of my gender will be more likely to be hired?
  34. If I choose a career in early childhood or elementary level education, or volunteer to work with children, are people unlikely to wonder if I am choosing such a career because I am secretly a pedophile who is looking to get close to potential victims?
  35. If I choose a career in early childhood or elementary level education, or volunteer to work with children, will the parents of these children trust me implicitly, despite the fact that members of my gender are more likely to use positions of authority over children as a means to facilitate the sexual abuse of those children?
  36. If I commit a crime against children, are people more likely to want to believe that I have been falsely accused or "failed by the system" or was somehow "driven to it" by factors outside of my control, even before the details of the crime are revealed because members of my gender "just don't do stuff like that?"  Is it unlikely that people will automatically attribute my actions to unprovoked aggression or hold me entirely responsible for them?
  37. If I am a victim of domestic violence, are there many services in my community that are specifically geared toward people of my gender and in my situation?  Am I unlikely to be denied these services because of my gender?
  38. If report my partner to the authorities for physically abusing me, will I likely be believed by the authorities, whether I possess signs of physical injury or not?
  39. If I physically abuse my partner, will people -- including the authorities and victim's services workers -- be likely to assume that I only did it out of self-defense, even if I tell them that I instigated the violence and that my partner is pacifistic and non-violent?
  40. If I physically abuse my partner, will people -- including the authorities and victim's services workers -- assume that my partner did something to provoke me (like cheating on me, yelling at me, or otherwise causing me to temporarily lose control)?
  41. If I physically abuse my partner and they reciprocate, is my partner far more likely to be the one arrested, even if the partner's violent response was only made in self-defense?
  42. If my partner physically abuses me and I reciprocate -- even if I admit my reciprocation was not in self-defence but out of anger -- is it unlikely I will be arrested?
  43. If I am divorced and my former partner earns more than I do, is it more likely that I will be awarded spousal support, even if I am employed and self-supporting, than if the positions were reversed?
  44. If I am divorced, is the default assumption in Family Court that I will be given primary custody of my children?  Will this still be the case even if my former partner and I shared bread-winning and childcare duties roughly equally during the marriage?
  45. If I am divorced and my former partner sues for child custody, are they unlikely to be as successful as I would be were our positions reversed?  Will the burden be on them to prove that I am an unfit parent, rather than that they are more fit than I am, before this likelihood tips in their favor?
  46. If I am divorced and have primary custody of our children, am I more likely to be awarded child support from my former partner than they would be if our positions are reversed?
  47. If I am divorced and have primary custody of our children, and my former partner does not abide by the tems of the custody.child support order, will they be more likely to face legal consequences, such as a prison sentence, than I would be if our positions were reversed?  Will this happen even if the reason for not abiding my the order is that their financial situation has changed such that complying is literally impossible?  Will they face these consequences even if I am not in compliance with the order either, or have been hindering or outright preventing access to their children?
  48. If I am divorced and have primary custody of our children, is my right to distance myself from my former partner likely to take precedence over my children's right to have constant access to their other parent, and my former partner's right to have constant access to their children?
  49. If I am divorced and do not have primary custody of our children, am I far less likely to be ordered to pay child support than my former partner would were our situations reversed?  If I failed to comply with that order, am I unlikely to face any serious legal difficulties because of my defiance of the order?
  50. If I abuse the legal system during my divorce (for instance, by obtaining a fraudulent restraining order based on a bogus domestic violence claim, misrepresenting my financial status, hiding assets, or otherwise perjuring myself) am I unlikely to face any punishment for these crimes than my former partner would be were our positions reversed?
  51. If I abuse the legal system during my divorce, am I still likely to benefit from that abuse even after my self-serving manipulation of the legal system has been discovered by the court?  Moreover, will "the good of the children" be used as a reason to not penalize me for my illegal and deceitful actions?
  52. If my former partner abuses the legal system during my divorce in the manner described in Point 45, are they more likely to be criminally charged or monetarily penalized by the courts because of it.
  53. Are any accusations of rape I make against someone more likely to be believed, even if there exists no kind of evidence to support my accusation at all?
  54. Will any accusation of rape I make against a member of the opposite gender ruin their live and reputation, damage their job prospects, and possibly result in their serving time in jail, even if they are later exonerated?  And am I unlikely to face punishment for falsely making an accusation, even if they are later exonerated?
  55. If I have consensual sex with my partner, and we are both underage, if a statutory rape charge is filed am I the one who won't ever be charged?  Will this be the case even if I was the one to pressure my underage partner into engaging in sex and they objected?
  56. If I am raped by a member of the opposite gender, and I am below the age of consent, are people unlikely to say that no crime has been committed because, as a member of my gender, I wanted to have sex and obviously took advantage of the opportunity?
  57. If I am raped by a member of the opposite gender, are otherwise knowledgeable members of the criminal justice system unlikely to consider my body's involuntary reactions and automatic responses to sexual stimuli "proof" that I really gave consent to have sex?
  58. If I am a victim of a statutory rape committed by a member of the opposite gender, and the rape results in pregnancy, will I have a choice as to what my parental rights regarding that child will be?
  59. If I am a victim of a statutory rape committed by a member of the opposite gender, and the rape results in pregnancy, will I not be held financially responsible for that child if I was raped by an adult?
  60. Irregardless of my parents' culture or religion, or any small beneficial side-effects, am I protected by law from having my genitals mutilated until I am an adult and can request such surgical procedures myself?
  61. Irregardless of my parents' culture or religion, or any small beneficial side-effects, if my genitals have been mutilated am I considered the victim of a heinous crime?
  62. Can I openly state a sexual preference for members of the opposite gender who have had their genitals mutilated and not immediately be called out as a sexist, a sadist, or both by the rest of society?
  63. Can I request a sexual partner of the opposite gender whose genitals have not been mutilated go through the mutilation procedure for me, without that partner or greater society considering me to be a sexist, a sadist, or both?
  64. Can I cite my own sexual preference for members of the opposite gender whose genitals have been mutilated as the sole reason for requesting the same be done to my newbord child without being called out as a sexist, a sadist, or both by the rest of society?
  65. Will my child's doctor comply with mutilating my child's genitals without arguing with me or reporting me to the police?
  66. Will my health insurance pay for the mutilation of my child's genitals without arguing with me or reporting me to the police?
  67. Would it be career suicide for a doctor or political to recomment mutilating my genitals to reduce the chance of catching an STD or having other medical problems?
  68. Is there little no to legal debate as to whether the mutilation of my gender's genitals is bad?
  69. Am I not required to register with the Selective Services, and thus am not subject to a military draft?
  70. In the case of a "full war," I would not be considered a coward or somehow traitorous if I were to refuse to risk my life on my country's behalf.
  71. If I commit a crime, can I expect to receive a lighter sentence for that crime than a person of the opposite gender would receive for committing the same crime?
  72. If I voluntarily choose to join the military, it will I most likely never be called upon to act in a combat capacity except under very unusual circumstances, even if I am in a combat zone?
  73. Are people more likely to blame society for my own personal failings?
  74. If I act eccentrically and am even moderately good looking, will my actions  be seen as "cute" or "endearing" rather than simply weird and off-putting?  In fact, will everything I do or say be seen as such?
  75. Is it generally accepted that members of my gender are disadvantaged and do not enjoy any sort of social privilege at all, regardless of how often I have answered "yes" to the questions on this list?


The point of this list is not to play a game of "who has the most privilege", but to demonstrate that, in different ways and in different manners, both men and women enjoy situations where they have the advantage, and suffer situations where they have the disadvantage.  This is not a race to see who the biggest victim is.


Even if some group is objectively given unfair advantages, it does not in any way, shape, or form follow that all members of that group are advantaged, let alone privileged.  It does not even follow that most members are.  And even if someone is privileged, it absolutely does not follow that his arguments are invalid.  This is the typical reason why privilege is dragged into the discussion:  a silencing tactic.  "You are privileged, ergo you do not know what you are talking about."


In addition, I note the absurd attitude that shines through in many of the "privilege blaming" groups:  if you are a male, or worse, a white male, or even worse a heterosexual white male, or even further worse, a Christian heterosexual white male, you're an inferior being who isn't worth listening to or considering seriously because you're worthless.


If, on the other hand, you qualify for a victim card (by being black, gay, a woman, and so on), you're one of the enlightened elite.


Individuals take advantage of their own privilege.  It's a fact.  Men take advantage of male privilege, even when they actively say they don't try to.  They can't help it.  Likewise, women take advantage of female privilege.  And both men and women are more when the stakes are very, very high.


And before you get too high on your horse about the privileges of the other gender, you (whether you are a man or a woman) would be advised to consider what your life would be like were the gender privilege you currently enjoy was reversed in these situations.

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