A few days ago I saw an article by Mark Saunders bemoaning 18 points he sees as female privilege. I couldn’t read it all in one go. He just doesn’t get it, and, worse, there are many more like him.
I would like to clarify that I know there are amazing men in this world, and that people like Saunders are in the minority. There are far, far more good, decent men. Unfortunately the squeaky wheels get heard, and when you get one of them (like, you know, Elliott Rodger) letting hatred of women reign supreme and start killing women, it’s hard to ignore the realities that the dangerous ones have a higher impact on our lives as a whole than the good ones. A good man can love and spoil me every day, but a bad one can take my life away.
That said, I want to rebut Saunders’ dull points.
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.
This one had me roll my eyes. Right out the gate, and I already wanted to yell at him. Would he really rather live in fear of the risk of sexual assault or worse? In 2011, a survey had 20% of women admit being sexually assaulted. Now what this survey doesn’t account for is how many women are assaulted, and are to ashamed to admit it, or who blame themselves, or who can’t admit it to themselves. I wouldn’t admit it for years when an ex repeatedly raped me. I thought that, since we were in a relationship, that me saying no was depriving him, and that, even though I cried and begged no, him proceeding was him taking what was his. Over and over again for years. Not until four years had passed after breaking up was I finally able to see that this wasn’t right, and only a couple years ago could I call it what it was. In that decade between break-up and admitting it, I would have answered NO to any question about having been assaulted. Sadly, I am not alone. We women are blamed, as if wearing a short skirt, having a sexual history, or being in a relationship, means consent is given.
So Saunders wants to whine that women are afraid. Maybe he should take a step in our shoes and live with the worry that that man ahead of him might yank him into the bushes and show thing violently into his body cavities. Men aren’t harmed by a woman crossing the street, but we run the risk of assault or even death every time we don’t. I don’t cross the street, but I’ve also stopped talking walks after dusk because, as much as I hate to admit it, I’m too damned scared to, even in a area with a low crime rate, even with several years of martial arts training.
2. Female privilege is being able to approach someone and ask them out without being labeled “creepy.”
There’s a difference between a guy being creepy, and one not being creepy. Leer at me, look me up and down slowly, lick your lips, and tell me you’d love to introduce me to your little friend, and yeah, that’s creepy. Strike up a nice conversation, look me in the eyes, ask if I’d like to get coffee sometime, and take it with grace and dignity when I saw I’m not available, and you might end up with me thinking about if any of my friends might like to meet you.
A woman who comes on overly strong is labeled as a whore. We’re not creeps. We’re just whorebags whose interest can mean, to jerks, that we’re fine if you follow us to the alley and ignore our no’s. After all, we were interested, right?
One again, men have the upper hand and the safer position.
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.
That link is in the original article, and so I’m leaving it intact.
Women can rape me. No one says we can’t. No one in their right minds would say that two drunk people having sex and one having regrets the next morning means the other is a rapist for having sex with a drunk person. The dividing line is when someone is sober and talks a drunk person into having sex, or when someone is drunk, and won’t take no for an answer. This goes both ways.
We are also rarely viewed as innocent by default. We are told we were dressed wrong, or shouldn’t have been drinking. Yes, we need to watch how much we drink, but we only need to do that so we can be more alert for the guys who may take advantage of us. Failing to do so still does NOT make us at fault. However you can bet that courts will see it that way. Fail to lock the door to your house, and you’re still the victim because someone else chose to do wrong. Drink several beers, and you’re not a victim because you weren’t diligent enough to somehow stop a rapist….
Courts rarely believe us anyway.
Oh, and as for the assertion that men are likely to be falsely accused of rape? When the odds of a false accusation are 2.7MILLION to 1, yet the chance of being assaulted and admitting it are 1-in-5, with actual numbers pegged at 1-in-3, are we really supposed to worry about that 1-in-2,700,000-man falsely accused? Get a handful of women together, and chances are one has been raped. Get a football stadium of men together, and chances are none of them know a man who faced a genuinely false accusation of rape.
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.
I wonder what versions of those shows he’s watching. Yes, Doug is shown to be somewhat bumbling, but Carrie is made out to be downright bitchy. Raymond is shown to be intimidated by his wife and mother. Deb and Marie are overbearing, and to be honest, I have a hard time watching that show because Marie scares me. She reminds me so much of a woman I knew. This isn’t positive or competent. We are shown to be moody, temperamental, and just a hair’s width from calling the men in our lives stupid. To be blunt, these men are shown to be the victims of mental abuse.
So how are we the ones shown in a positive light again?
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.
Children, definitely. As for women, historically we have been the primary caregiver for children. Before the advent of formula in a cheaper form, which was before birth control came along, there was a good chance we were nursing, and removing that food source could result in a child dying. Saving us before men meant that children has a higher chance of survival in this world. But since then, it’s become more or less every man and woman for themselves.
In fact, those most likely to extoll the virtues of the XY-sexed dying for us double-Xers tend to be fundamental Christians who believe in patriarchy. Until Doug Phillips was ousted for having an affair, which it turns out went beyond simply emotional, with his long-time nanny (who is now suing him for assault), Vision Forum, which he led, had a Titanic Society dedicated to the men and boys who died for women and children, and promoted the continuance of men treating us as the weaker ones.
The very people Saunders is aiming his little list toward are the rest of us who somehow think women should have equal rights, in other words, not the people who think women should be put on a pedestal above men.
6. Female privilege is being able to decide not to have a child.
Condoms. Abstinence. Using your hand to get off.
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.
Yes, it can suck for a man to find out a woman he had sex with is pregnant and wants the baby. Guess what. You know the risks of having sex. There’s your choice. It’s not 100% equal, but in this instance, there is no way to make it 100% equal. Men can’ force us to have abortions, and the babies need to be supported. If you want your fun, to need to accept the risks. If you don’t want those risks, use your hand or find someone who prefers oral sex.
8. Female privilege is never being told to “take it like a man” or “man up.”
We are just told to suffer in silence. We women are basically expected, by default, to “woman up,” and we are plenty harsh toward each other for shirking our duties. Those men told to “man up” are those who are trying who shake off their responsibility. Don’t want to hear “man up”? Take responsibility for your actions, Mark. I know many men who have NEVER been told to “man up” because they are responsible from the get-go. If you’re hearing this a lot, maybe you should try the same.
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.
I have a male friend, now deceased, who was raped in prison. He was 16, and only in there because he and his 15-year-old girlfriend had sex, and the girl’s mother found out. Since the age of consent was 16, he was legally considered to be a rapist, and even he had to admit this charge wasn’t false. They had sex, and their birthdays, two weeks apart, straddled the consent-line. And then he was genuinely raped, raped so savagely that he spent a few months in the hospital. Prison rape is always taken seriously.
Women being raped? I refer you to #3 above. We aren’t seen as innocent. We are blamed.
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.
Saunders almost has a point. Almost. Men are free to divorce as well. However it is true that women are more likely to be grated custody by default, but why is this? Once upon a time, men always got custody. Yes, in the early days, women lost. That was just the law. Children were property, and men alone owned property. This did shift to women getting custody since men were the ones able to work and pay support. But why now do women still have an upper hand? Because we are still the ones usually expected to stay home with the children as the primary caregivers. You can’t rip children from their primary caregivers without repercussions for the children. In families where both spouses work and both contribute to the household, custody is now usually 50/50. We do have fathers who are getting primary more and more as more fathers are the ones to stay home while the mothers bring in the bacon.
So Saunders’ slight point is only very slight. He also completely leaves out how difficult it is for those single mother to get by, even with child support, especially after years of working, at best, menial jobs. Sadly, many women stay in bad relationships because of not having the resources they need. One of my best friends right now is going through this. Wants to leave, but how will she get housing? She’s the primary caregiver sure to get custody, but she’s miserable because she can’t get out yet, and it’s not for a lack of trying. So Saunders is overlooking how hard it is to actually leave.
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.
I want to know where he lives that the police won’t do anything to women who are beating on you.
12. Female privilege is being able to be caring or empathetic without people being surprised.
Maybe in his household. In the real world, men are allowed to cry. No one is surprised when a man cries when his dog passes, his mother gets cancer, or at the end of Toy Story 3. Yes, I am using an animated film in this example. Men are allowed to cry. In fact, most women appreciate a man who is secure enough with himself to show his feelings, even if that means crying.
Women, on the other hand, are more likely to be seen as too sensitive. Men tend to not like it. There is a biological reason for this, but since it’s not well-known, it’s easier to just tell is to not be so sensitive, and then turn to articles on how to deal with a crying woman.
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.
I’m trying to figure out where to even start with this one. Most women with careers WANT to be taken seriously, but we aren’t. We are more likely to be passed over for promotions, to make less than our equally-qualified male counterparts (I once made $10 less per hour than the men on my team, despite us all having equal qualifications and doing the exact same wok). We can’t rely on a marriage lasting forever, so must have something to fall back on unless we want to be stuck (re-read paragraph #2 under point #10).
Stay-at-home mothers are often viewed as lazy, even by many working-outside-the-house moms. Oh, what can SAHMs possibly do all day? Surely the cleaning can be done while the kids nap (nap! HA!!), and it doesn’t take more time to do common things. Carolyn Hax debunked the myth of the tons of spare time SAHMs don’t have. Yet SAHMs are often thought of as having all the free time in the world.
It doesn’t help that SAHMs are often accused of being anti-feminist for not getting out there and working. Isn’t that was the feminist movement fought for, after all? Apparently choosing to stay home isn’t valid, even though this choice requires both parents to agree, just as both need to agree if the father will stay home. SAHDads are more likely to be viewed as sweet and involved and selfless for sacrificing his career. Hm. When a dad stays home, a mother MUST take her career seriously. Imagine that.
14. Female privilege is being able to cry your way out of a speeding ticket.
Not when our tears are more likely to irritate a cop, who is more likely to be a man.
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.
After centuries of being raised to be good little women taking care of the household and kids, this extra encouragement only came about because girls were being overlooked in schools. STEM subjects were seen as the domain of boys. These are the subjects that lead to the higher-paying jobs. Women in STEM-careers make 35% more than women in other fields. We make up just over half the population, yet only hold 17% of chemical engineering and 22% of environmental scientist positions. The disparities are stark. Despite this extra encouragement, there is still a huge gap.
High-schools don’t have a goal of graduating more girls. Schools have a goal of graduating everyone. Saunders just doesn’t realize that teen pregnancy is more likely to result in teen mothers dropping out. Where is the problem is trying to encourage girls to stay in school and into the STEM-subjects that give girls a better chance of having good-paying careers to? Is Saunders all right with the boys going into those higher-priced careers? Honestly, he sound intimidated by girls going into STEM. And since he thinks we don’t need to take our careers seriously, why should he care if we’re just going to sit home on our butts anyway?
Women in STEM aren’t taken seriously. I used to work in technology in Silicon Valley. I was an e-mail and internet security analyst. I made $10 less an hour than the men on my team, despite doing the same work with the same qualification. When I was in college classes to CIS, I wasn’t taken seriously. I used to go to technological conventions, and even at the one most inclusive of women–MacWorld–I was still seen as a novelty and like I must have been there man-hunting.
It’s true women are going to college more than men, but more of those careers women are getting are the lower-paid teaching and nursing degrees while men are more likely to start from the ground up in technology. That’s right, you don’t always have to have a degree to work in STEM, but women are less likely to be taken seriously. The man I’m with right now didn’t go to college, and despite being barely 30, is in the top 30% for income, without a degree. The career he considered going to college for was to teach English lit, which pays about half of his current pay. He, without a degree, is making a fine living, while chances are a woman got that degree instead, and is struggling. College degrees don’t always equal greater pay, especially when you look at the degrees women are still more likely to get.
But again, he thinks we don’t need to take careers seriously, which makes all of this moot.
16. Female privilege being able to have an opinion without someone tell you you’re just “a butthurt fedora-wearing neckbeard who can’t get any.”
What planet is he living on that men aren’t able to have opinions? If he’s talking about men having the opinion that women should be allowed access to birth control, jobs outside the home or equal rights, or that men are owed sex because a woman is wearing a short skirt, well, he can shove it where the sun don’t shine. The opinions of men, more often than not, have dictated women’s rights. We women didn’t even have the right to vote until more men than not had the opinion that we deserved the right. Men are encouraged to have opinions and be involved, especially where children and family matters are concerned. The only area women are likely to get mad at men’s opinions is when those men’s opinions are that women should have rights taken away. Sadly, the opinions of men do have that power.
17. Female privilege is being able to talk about sexism without appearing self-serving.
Privilege means having the upper hand and being on the more desirable side. I don’t know any women who would prefer this “privilege” of being able to talk about sexism over having equal rights. Do you? Does Saunders? There is no privilege in being on the side dealing with oppression.
If a man wants to talk about how much sexism he things he’s the victim of, then yes, he will appear self-serving. As stated, men are more likely to be paid more, women are more likely to be blamed for rape, and so on. Women are, by far, the more oppressed sex in almost every way. We still, in practice, do not have equal rights. If a man wants to talk about how fathers are still at a disadvantage in child custody, fine. I already discussed, under point #10, how there is some slight truth to this. But if a man wants to talk about how men have it so much harder, he needs to have strong arguments that can not be so easily rebutted by showing how women are affected.
I will concede on one thing. Individual women might think a man is less deserving of rights. This, however, doesn’t rise to the point of the large-scale, institutionalized sexism Saunders is talking about, any more than a black neighbor thinking that my lily-white butt must be stupid because of my race. In the world are large, I still have the advantage in the race department (which is WRONG, and don’t get me started on that or I will probably start screaming), just like men have the advantage. Individuals discriminating simply is not the same thing as wide-scaled, institutionalized discrimination.
18. Female privilege is arrogantly believing that sexism only applies to women.
See that last paragraph I wrote. To recap, an individual being sexist isn’t the same as the world at large oppressing you based on sex. If Saunders thinks we need to raise men up from an individual woman here and there thinking men should be demoted to third-class citizens, then he’s got another thing coming. In all ways that matter but one (and even that is swinging more to the center every day), he already has the advantage. So yes, wide-scale sex discrimination DOES apply to women, and it’s not arrogant to state facts. Arrogance is thinking that his non-struggles are deserving of the same concern and outrage as women being passed over for jobs, being paid less, and having to fight tooth and nail for access to birth control and other sex-related health care.
To sum it up, no one is denying that men can be the victims of sexual assault or domestic violence, but claiming that men have it just as hard as women is absolutely false. Men killed by domestic partners are more likely to have been abusive and pushed their partners over the edge. Women who are killed are more likely to have tried to escape. We are taken seriously less often, have to fight harder for what we have, and still live in a country (speaking for the US on this one) where patriarchy rules, and we have yet to have a woman as high as Speaker of the House (women make up fewer than 20% of politicians in congressional seats, and it’s not so much for a lack of desire to try as it is knowing the chance of election is so slight). While Medicare has covered penis pumps for many years, and most insurance plans have covered Viagra since it was released, until recently, birth control pills, even when needed for medical conditions, were rarely every covered. For decades, even vehicle crash-testing and safety-improvement was based on adult-male-sized testing dummies. We haven’t even touched on how sexually active women are “sluts” and sexually active men are “studs,” nor how women are shamed for breastfeeding babies in public, but are encouraged to dress sexy for the enjoyment of men, with comments on our bodies par for the course while men of almost every size are fine and can even be seen as sexy (most women in film with a few extra pounds are fodder for fat jokes, yet men like Seth Rogan are seen as desirable teddy bears).
Overall, I’m just not seeing how women are truly privileged for being women.