“Male Privilege” is Male Privilege

It’s a gross understatement to note that the US is having a crisis of manhood. We seem to define our gender identities based on comparisons to the other gender. Some men are having a hard time adjusting to their new roles in a more gender-egalitarian world. Feminism has become the scapegoat, blaming successful women for the failure of some men to thrive. The “man up” imperative is entwined with the “be a lady” admonishment. I recently found myself commenting on a social media thread in which a man I don’t know was demonizing the feminist movement and women’s empowerment for the downfall of men in America. He also espoused the idea that male privilege is not that great and female privilege is wonderful. Right, because I really enjoy being a second class citizen for 10 more years than you are a first class citizen. Thanks for buying me a drink, it really makes up for the fact that I get paid less for the same work. I think this viewpoint is ludicrous. It’s no different than white people denying empowerment to minorities.

To make the similarity clear, I’ve rewritten Stranger-Man’s points.

The original statement:

“I believe that this phenomenon has everything to do with the fanatical rise of feminism and the devaluing of maleness in American society. Men have been whipped into a state of guilty submission and are taught to be afraid of the harm their maleness might cause to females. This is the result of too much sensitivity, of too much trying to be PC, of too much bad politicking over “empowerment.” I’m not sure that empowerment doesn’t breed entitlement, actually…I think it’s a fine line.”

Rewritten:

I believe that this phenomenon has everything to do with the fanatical rise of civil rights and the devaluing of whiteness in American society. White people have been whipped into a state of guilty submission and are taught to be afraid of the harm their white privilege might cause to minorities. This is the result of too much sensitivity, of too much trying to be PC, of too much bad politicking over “empowerment.” I’m not sure that empowerment doesn’t breed entitlement, actually…I think it’s a fine line.”

Ridiculously racist, right?

Original statement:

“Women run the show now. If they want men to “man-up,” then certain social contracts need to be restored, the feminist movement needs to become the humanist movement, and men need to be empowered to some sort of usefulness and responsibility beyond simply protecting the women and children. We need our purpose back. Because really…what is “male privilege”? Male privilege is that we get to go down with the ship while the women and kids get the lifeboats. Male privilege is signing up for the draft on your 18th birthday. And most of us are proud to make those sacrifices, because we have always been rewarded by society in other ways, and now as men become less useful, the rewards are also less.”

Rewritten:

“Minorities run the show now. If they want white people to respect them, then certain social contracts need to be restored, the civil rights movement needs to include helping white people get ahead, and white people need to be empowered to some sort of usefulness and responsibility beyond simply being the white savior. We need our purpose back. Because really… what is “white privilege?” White privilege is that we get to be leaders in the community and be responsible for everyone. White privilege is taking on the burden of caring of society. And most of us are proud to make those sacrifices, because we have always been rewarded by society in other ways, and now as white people become less useful, the rewards are also less.”

Yuck.

Original statement:

“…women have been trying to be men so they can have what men have and now that the tide is turning, they’re starting to have the jobs and money and power, and they’re starting to understand some of the burdens that come with the territory. Remember what I said about male privilege? So, ladies…if you want your man to man up, be a lady. Don’t date 10 guys at once. Encourage him and support him, don’t try to compete with him. Give him honest signals and don’t flee if he gets interested. Treat him with respect and let him be a man.”

Rewritten:

“…minorities have been trying to be white so they can have what white people have and now that the tide is turning, they’re starting to have the jobs and money and power, and they’re starting to understand some of the burdens that come with the territory. Remember what I said about white privilege? So, minorities…if you want your white friends to step up, be a minority. Encourage them and support them, don’t try to compete with them. Treat them with respect and let them be white.”

Uggggggggggghhhhhhh.

It’s not that I don’t get his concerns, actually I do agree that men are going through a crisis and need to be supported through this transition into a post-feminist world (if we ever get there). What I find utterly disdainful is his denial that male privilege is desirable and his blaming female empowerment for male failures. I don’t want to tell any man to “man up” and I don’t want any man to tell me to “be a lady.” Above all, we are all human. We all deserve respect and support. We deserve equal opportunities.

Female empowerment is human empowerment. The top has gotten crowded and some men are falling off. The solution is to help them back up, not toss women back down.

copywrite 2014 Sermin Yesilada
copywrite 2014 Sermin Yesilada

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