The Scarlet Woman’s Sexpose #2: Explaining feminism to men - an examination of privelege
**trigger warning: descriptions of rape
Searching the feminism tag on tumblr I came accross this question, from the following user:
I’ll admit I don’t know much about feminism, or activism or anything like that. I’m all for gender equality and will admit the world is more geared toward men. Its true I cant argue with that. But I’ve seen my fair share of sexism that goes in womens favor as well. And also women get away with quite a bit. I dont know what it is women go through because I’m not a woman, I’ve listened to a lot of them speak. Even took a womens studies class to further my understanding.( Two guys in the class, myself and another guy, he dropped so I was alone…WOW) But mainly my reasoning for this entry is wondering what is it feminism is fighting for. It seems as if in my opinion that whenever something goes wrong, its a mans fault or, its because of something male dominated.
Is the point of feminism to overthrow what is seen as Male rule or, make things equal. Every entry I read dealing with the subject is blaming men for just about any and everything, also it seems like its just pure hatred. Women get mad at me for holding the door for them now. I dont understand it. I’m sorry I was brought up being taught to protect women, not because they arent able, but if you see a woman unable to do something strength wise, or just if you can help, I feel you should help. Id help any man just the same, and I have helped both genders on many occasions without expectation of any compensation at all. Thats just the way I am. I guess I just want a better understanding of it all.
This is a really common question that I hear from guys, and I thought I would take some time to answer it. The question manifests itself in different ways - what is this ’feminism’? isn’t it just about man hating though? What’s your deal anyway?
So what follows is an explanation of feminism, for men. It is comprehensive, so if you’re a tl;dr, this may not be for you. But try anyways! Because some of y’all need to be schooled.
I have met a ton of guys who are inherently suspicious about feminism, sometimes without even being able to explain why. I can tell you why - it’s because if you are a male (this intensifies if you are a WHITE male), you’ve got something I don’t have. You may not even know you have it - in fact, you most likely don’t. In the way that you are continually breathing but can’t see and don’t ever stop to wonder about the air in front of you, this exists around you. It’s called privelege.
Men are priveleged in the world in a way that women have never been. It is unearned - you didn’t do anything for it, you didn’t earn it, you just have it. Just because you’re a man, you have it. You were born with it, but unlike a disease or illness that doctors can spot right away, privelege is invisible. Probably no one would have told you about it or talked to you about it. You may have gone your entire life up until this moment without having ever heard about it. And yet it has been as much a part of your life as breathing, unseen but at the same time, entirely present.
Now, don’t stop reading! No one is blaming you for anything (yet). Because even though I’m telling you that you have this thing, we haven’t explored what privelege is yet. The standard resource on privelege is a text by Peggy McIntosh called ‘White Privelege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack’. It’s been used for a long time to explain the ways in which white persons are inherently but unconsciously priveleged over people of colour, and the ways in which most white people are completely unaware of this fact.
So reading that you may have realized that ‘privelege’ isn’t just for men. Lots of people have privelege! If you’re a white male or female, you have white privelege over people of colour, for example. As a white female, I have inherent and unearned privelege over women of colour. What we’re talking about today is specifically male privelege. Our society is built upon these invisible power hierarchies and every day we unconciously perpetuate them. There are a couple things about privelege that it’s important to understand:
1. Privelege is not your fault, and it’s not inherently bad.
The following passage is from a really great article on privelege written by livejournal user brown_betty called ‘A Primer on Privelege: What it is and what it isn’t’ :
Privilege is not: About you, the individual. Privilege is not your fault. Privilege is not anything you’ve done, or thought, or said. It may have allowed you to do, or think, or say things, but it’s not those things, and it’s not because of those things. Privilege is not about taking advantage, or cheating, although privilege may make this easier. Privilege is not negated. I can’t balance my white privilege against my female disadvantage and come out neutral. Privilege is not something you can be exempt from by having had a difficult life. Privilege is not inherently bad. It really isn’t.
See? I told you! Almost everyone is the world has SOME kind of privelege over other people. Are you able bodied? Your are priveleged over disabled people. Are you able to go into a restaraunt and order whatever you want? You are priveleged over people with severe food allergies, celiac disease, and other serious gastro-intestinal problems. Sounds like a funny example, but I want to highlight the different kinds of privelege that exist - some that seem mundane, and some that don’t.
Read more after the jump!