A nearly 30-year-old term is slowly slithering its way out of Feminist academia into the vulgar argot: male privilege. Fortunately, it has hit some snags along the way, as its use as caused a fierce battle between the various participants of the Oppression Olympics in that eternal game of “who has the heterosexual white male oppressed the most?”
“Male privilege” is just another weapon in the Feminist sophistry arsenal. It’s purpose is to create a sense of guilt in the target and desire to comply with the Feminist so that the negative emotional state may be removed.
Definition of Male Privilege
The origin of the idea of male privilege may be a relatively new term, but it is an idea that originates in first wave feminism. In 1869, Elizabeth Cady Stanton dropped a turd in the Suffragist punch bowl when she allied with famous entrepreneur and racist George Francis Train (no, he was not a “suspected white supremacist”; Train openly argued that white women should vote and black people should not) to finance her newspaper and a series of speeches on behalf of (White) women’s suffrage.
Suffragists (of which Frederick Douglass was one) held a meeting to discuss this problem and what should be done about it. Douglass argued that the abolitionist-suffragist alliance should focus its efforts in Negro suffrage to protect their interests against the defeated, but unbroken, power of the former slaveowners. Susan B. Anthony, a friend and mentee of Stanton, said the following against Douglass in defense of Stanton:
Mr. Douglass talks about the wrongs of the negro; but with all the outrages that he to-day suffers, he would not exchange his sex and take the place of Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
– Susan Brownell Anthony, May 12, 1869
Stanton was the daughter of Daniel Cady, a Congressman and New York Supreme Court justice. She was indulged beyond the standard of women of her own time, as her father paid for her to be educated in classical literature, foreign languages, mathematics, and sciences. She married Henry Stanton, New York State Senator, attorney, and journalist. Meanwhile, Frederick Douglass had to teach himself how to read in secret. He escaped to freedom then fled the United States for Ireland to avoid being returned to slavery. Hardly seems like a contest.
Anthony’s statement is absurd on its face. But it is such an idea that gives life to the game of “more oppressed than thou” that Feminists have played for the past half-century. “We are the most oppressed people in the room, and if you are a ‘good’ person, you’ll do what we want.” This plays very well in nations with Christian traditions that wrongly link suffering with sanctity and that self-destructive altruism is virtuous.
In 1988, a Feminist “scholar” by the name of Peggy McIntosh took the next leap in the thinking Susan B. Anthony and unveiled the concept of “male privilege” and its partner “white privilege.”
Through work to bring materials from women’s studies into the rest of the curriculum, I have often noticed men’s unwillingness to grant that they are overprivileged, even though they may grant that women are disadvantaged.
Maybe because men are not willing to engage in false generalizations about the lives of men they are not aware of.
My schooling gave me no training in seeing myself as an oppressor, as an unfairly advantaged person, or as a participant in a damaged culture.
This is the shift in tactics between the “Civil Rights Movement” and “Social Justice.” The Civil Rights activists appealed to the “goodness” of citizens to live up to their own professed social morals of liberty and equality before the law. In Social Justice, there is no appeal to goodness but a demand that people (especially males and whites) accept and publically confess their guilt as oppressors and sinners against “Intersectionality”, regardless of what they have done or not done personally.
I have met very few men who truly distressed about systemic, unearned male advantage and conferred dominance.
Few men are distressed about “systemic, unearned male advantage” because most men live in a world in which they possess no advantage and are conferred no dominion. The majority of men are held to the standard of “he who does not work, neither shall he eat.”
The problem with “male privilege” is that formed out of imagination and conjecture. It is sin without absolution and guilt without correction. But just like original sin and damnation are useful tools to extract tithes from gullible parishoners, male privilege is a useful tool for Feminists to extract time and resources from gullible men.
Application of Male Privilege
The typical application of “male privilege” follows a predictable pattern in any opinion piece or dialogue concerning the topic: A Feminist complains about something, then loudly proclaims your guilt and moral inferiority as a beneficiary of “male privilege”, and finally demands concessions and services in order to temporarily remove the psychological pressure she has applied in the form of guilt.
Rinse and repeat as is needed.
Complaint-Pressure/Guilt-Demand. Three steps.
Let’s apply to model to some examples:
Nian Hu, a Senior at Harvard and “government concentrator” (may God have mercy on us all), wrote this for the Harvard Crimson:
Recently, Saturday Night Live produced a skit called “Girl at a Bar” where a woman sitting alone at a bar is repeatedly approached by self-proclaimed feminist men—“not gross guys trying to hit on you or anything”—who make it clear, through their pussyhats and their feminist T-shirts, that they are not one of those “skeazy guys” at a bar. However, after successfully convincing the woman of their feminist credentials, these men use the opportunity make a sexual advance. And when she gently rebuffs their advances, these men become angry, calling her a “bitch” and complaining that “it’s not fair.”
This is the “woke misogynist” that Nona Willis Aronowitz wrote about. This is the self-proclaimed feminist man who proudly attends the Women’s March and reads Judith Butler and casually throws around terms like “gender performativity,” but who also harasses, talks over, belittles, and sexually assaults women.
The Complaint. A fake man on a fake TV show did a fake thing that hurt her feelings. Wah, wah, wah.
What these male feminists fail to realize is that, as men, they will always be oppressors. No matter how many feminist marches they attend or how much feminist literature they read, they are not exempt from perpetuating the subordination of women. Their support of the women’s movement does not erase the fact that they, on an individual level, are capable of harassing, assaulting, or silencing women—nor that, on a structural level, they continue to benefit from a system that establishes male dominance at the expense of women. And even though male allies may genuinely feel guilty, they will continue to benefit from male privilege. The patriarchy does not offer special exceptions for men with good intentions. Men, as a class, are culpable for misogyny, and male allies are no different and no less capable of demeaning women through their words, actions, and complicit silence.
The Application of Psychological Pressure via Guilt. You are evil and bad and wrong. Sure you’ve never called a woman a bitch to her face (you don’t know what you’re missing out on if you haven’t). But it doesn’t matter because you have penis, and that means that you could, at any time, jump up and harass and assault and silence women.
It’s sort of like the scene in the Matrix when Morpheus is explaining the Matrix. Anyone can transform into an Agent and “harass, assault, or silence women” at any time.
We are all the Woman in the Red Dress, according to Feminists.
As for those men who are not threatened by the idea of losing power, who are genuinely committed to social justice—they understand that allyship is not a badge they can proudly wear and hide behind, but rather a difficult task they must undertake everyday. They understand that allyship entails consciously ceding space to marginalized communities, listening to women’s voices, and willingly giving up the power that they and their ancestors have enjoyed for centuries.
I have faith that some men can, in time, become helpful—never integral—allies to women in their fight for liberation. But until then, beware the male feminist.
The Demand. Swear allegiance to Feminism and Social Justice, accept “ally” status (useful idiot status is more appropriate) and perhaps, one day, Feminists MIGHT absolve you of your ancestral guilt.
But probably not.
Let’s try another one.
Jessica Samakow writes for the Huffington Post:
It wasn’t yet 10 a.m. on Sunday when a man sitting behind me on a Giants Stadium-bound bus cracked open two Bud Lights and handed one to his friend. “To Trump!” he said, raising his morning beer. They “cheersed,” and I leaned in, curious to hear where this toast was going.
I almost choked on my bagel. My boyfriend squeezed my hand to express his horror (or to stop me from lunging at Trumpboi behind me, I can’t be sure). We exchanged knowing glances, but we didn’t have to have a conversation about what we’d just heard. We had already spent weeks in October talking about how pervasive yet unremarkable sexual harassment is in almost every woman’s life. We’d already counted the reasons women don’t report minor (or even major) instances of assault. He’d already heard me scream at the TV during the debates about how I’m about 1 billion times more likely to be harassed than to be a victim of a terror attack, a so-called “real issue.” We talked more about rape culture in three weeks than we had in three years.
The Complaint: Trump. Rape culture! (another Feminist hobgoblin for another time). Wah, wah, wah.
Those conversations followed a year of discussions we’d had about gender-based attacks on Hillary Clinton, about the cruel way society treats ambitious women who seek positions of power, and the way some men are truly terrified of losing power in the face of evolving gender roles.
I’m not the first to point out that the Trump campaign did us a favor by exposing the deeply rooted misogyny that still runs rampant in our country. Suddenly, during a presidential election, conversations that were once relegated to feminist corners of the internet became the conversations dominating mainstream media headlines. On Tuesday November 8, the country proved its misogyny runs deeper than most of us could have ever imagined. We chose to elect a man who has admitted to sexual assault over the most qualified candidate in history, who happens to be a woman. And to be a woman who has to come to terms with that fact is deeply, deeply painful.
The Application of Psychological Pressure via Guilt. Hillary Clinton, an active participant in dirty, hardball politics, was attacked! And YOU should feel guilty about that! America is full of “deep rooted misogyny”! And YOU should feel guilty about that!
God-dammit! Why won’t you just feel guilty about it?!
So, to the men who had any sort of eye-opening moment about the realities of sexism over the last year… Here’s what American women need from you now:
Remember 2016 when you’re voting in local elections. We can’t forget how the Republican party laid the foundation for Trump’s misogyny to thrive.
Remember 2016 when you witness (or perpetuate) rape culture. Call out men who catcall. Stop asking why women don’t report assault. Stop sending vulgar Tinder messages. Question your male friends when they make a comment that demeans a woman. It isn’t enough not to be a Donald Trump; don’t be a Billy Bush either.
Remember 2016 when raising your sons. This year we learned that using the “boys will be boys” excuse to give kids a pass for bad behavior is unacceptable. Teach your sons to respect women ― not only because they have moms and sisters. Teach your sons that women are their equals, because they are equally human.
Remember 2016 when you’re benefiting from male privilege. Could you imagine if Donald Trump ― crude, slimy, disheveled Donald Trump ― were a woman? Danielle Trump would never have gotten to the White House. Recognize that the gendered double standards Clinton faced mirror the gender dynamics most women are familiar with.
Remember 2016 when conducting yourself at work. Stop talking over women in meetings. Don’t assume other men are more qualified for jobs just because they’ve been conditioned to act like they are.
Remember 2016 when you think sexism is over because we almost elected a woman president. Women have spent the last year cataloguing our own experiences with misogyny and sexism as we watched Clinton face them on a national stage.
The Demand. Kowtow to Feminism, proselytize to your friends, coworkers, and kids, and always vote Democrat.
Last one, which I had to save up like a Level 3 Super attack: Gay White Male Privilege.
On July 9th, Sierra Mannie’s article “Dear White Gays: Stop Stealing Black Culture” was published on Time Magazine’s website stating that white gay men appropriate black womanhood, and emphatically asking them to stop. This imitation of black womanhood is seen in gay slang, in who gay men pick as their icons and even in the personas featured on RuPaul’s “Drag Race” (I’m looking at you LaGanja “YAAAS MAMA” Estranja).
The response came in from a sector of white gay men who saw Mannie’s article as wrong and offensive — their cultural appropriation is really appreciation, they said. Also, criticizing white gay men for their actions is homophobic, and because white gay men have no privilege in society, we’re all in this together, sistahs! These white gay men do not get the hurt and sadness behind Sierra Mannie’s words because they do not understand the harmful impact of cultural appropriation because of their status as White Men.
The Compliant. Have we really come to this? Have black women just become this pathetic? I understand that they lust after the penises of white men so they can have a baby with light skin and gray eyes and straight hair, but fighting gay white men for it?
Shame, shame, shame.
But seriously, the complaint here is that gay, white men are “emulating” black women. Wah, wah, wah. But it’s easy for gay men to caricature black womanhood because black womanhood is a caricature of actual womanhood.
It’s getting so bad that black men are throwing on wigs and look damn near indistinguishable from the average black woman.
Being white men, they benefit not only from white supremacy but also male privilege. Yes, gay people are oppressed because of their sexuality, but it’s possible to benefit from male privilege and white privilege even as a gay person because some gay people aren’t white and aren’t men. Your sexuality doesn’t negate your gender or your race. You can be two or three things at once and two of those things grant you powerful and unstoppable privilege.
Saying you don’t have privilege when you do have privilege and insulting those who say you do is an act of privilege. Denying that cultural appropriation is a problem is an act of privilege. Denying a black woman her hurt and anger in the face of racial oppression is an act of privilege. Changing the conversation about the racial transgressions of a certain group of white men to a conversation to shame and belittle a black woman affected by those very racial transgressions is an act of privilege.
The Application of Psychological Pressure via Guilt. Yes gay men, you might be oppressed because you love the cock, but you are not SUPER-oppressed because you lack a vagina, which means you are still an oppressor, and should feel guilty about that. Disagreeing with black women is proof of your “gay male privilege.”
I wish I could make up things this goofy.
You can align yourself with black women only if you are our friends and allies but yes, you should stop talking, pretending, and acting like black women.
Why do white gay men want to spend so much time telling a black woman that her hurt, anger and disappointment is false, hate mongering, and offensive?
Is it too much to ask of white gay men that they treat Black Women as people worthy of their respect? Does it ruin your night out if you can’t “[claim] our identity for what’s sweet without ever having to taste its sour” or if you can’t “[breathe] fire behind ugly stereotypes that reduce black females to loud caricatures”? Is a black woman asking to be treated as a person so worthy of scorn? The act of cultural appropriation treats people as stereotypes and jokes so why is cultural appropriation of black women so vital to white gay male culture? And why can’t it be dismantled when it is shown to be hurtful?
The Demand. Stop emulating black women (in an absurd and hilarious way). Kiss black women’s asses. Stop using Social Justice guilt-tripping and shaming tactics against black women who complain about what you do.
As much as it pleases me to see the contestants in the Oppression Olympics kick each others’ teeth in, this is illustrative of Feminist and Social Justice discourse: They must frame all discourse between individuals and groups as oppressor vs. oppressed, so they can apply this method of Complaint-Pressure/Guilt-Demand.
What’s Wrong With It
There is nothing wrong with guilt. Guilt as a corrective trait is what makes us social creatures. A guiltless person would be an unabashed narcissist.
The idea of being a beneficiary of wrongdoing is not beyond the pale either (see the concept of the “relief defendant” in Federal civil law, who committed no wrongful act, but benefited from the other defendant’s and can be held liable for restitution).
The problem arises when Feminists take these concepts and twist them into something malicious and detrimental to the person they target with them. Guilt for the purpose of correction is as old as the world. Jesus told the woman accused of adultery to “go forth and sin no more”, in other words, correct your actions and live on. For Feminists, male privilege, and the guilt they seek to engender by using it, is not for correction, but coercion. To give an example, say a husband forgets his wife’s birthday. He apologizes, makes amends and never forgets another birthday. But every time she wants something that he doesn’t, she says some variation of “if you don’t do this, it will hurt my feelings, just like when you forgot my birthday.”
It is a cheap, dishonest trick that plays on an emotional vulnerability that the manipulator knows the target has. It is a psychological pain-compliance hold that will only be released when the target agrees to the manipulator’s demand. And it is always available to be used again.
Feminist use of “male privilege” is just emotional manipulation, played out on a social level. When any individual man protests his innocence in the face of an accusation of guilt by male privilege, the Feminists counter that he is essentially a “relief defendant”, liable for the bad acts of some man who is not him, except that, unlike in Federal court, Feminists demand endless restitution. No amount of time or resources can EVER make up for the sin of “male privilege.” It is an eternal IOU.
There are couple of ways to deal with these tactics. The first is to figure out what the manipulator wants from you. In the case of Feminists, it will always be some form of compliance, a demand to confess your allegiance to Feminism. Occasionally it will be a demand on your time and resources. Once you recognize the demand, you can articulate that you will, under no circumstances, accede to the demand.
The second is recognize the difference between justifiable guilt and unjustifiable guilt. As stated above, there is nothing wrong with feeling guilty when it is justified, as when you, in your own person, have done something wrong, and the guilt leads to correcting your actions so that you don’t do it again. Unjustifiable guilt is guilt imposed for deeds that you have not done yourself, or deeds that you have made amends for, or behaviors that you have corrected. When you recognize the difference between the two types of guilt, you can recognize that someone is trying to manipulate you and that you should not give them what they want.
The third, and the best way is the way advised by the classic movie War Games. In any psychological battle, it takes two to play. Therefore, the only winning move is to not play at all.