Being part of a homogeneous majority my entire life and reaping the rewards my sexual orientation, skin color and socioeconomic status have brought me, I never really considered that I could, in fact, have more privileges than I was giving myself credit for.
But in two articles published this past month (and probably many more that I have not yet read), I was clearly proven wrong. Because I am a woman, I, according to these male authors, have a certain level of female privilege.
First Mark Saunders, a Thought Catalog contributor, compiled a list of 18 female privileges, framing them as things that women, blinded by their gender entitlements, “seem to not understand.” This post, just another example of patronizing patriarchal propaganda, only reveals the discrepancies between the male perception of the plight of women and the reality of what being a woman in the 21st century means. Here are a few of my favorite estrogen-inspired privileges that I cannot wait to exploit.
“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.”
Never mind that, all too often, individuals, including rapists themselves, are inclined to place blame on the victims of sexual assaults and rapes (“she was asking for it”).
“Female privilege is not having to take your career seriously because you can depend on marrying someone who makes more money than you do.”
Since the glass ceiling, the invisible boundary that prevents a female worker from earning a salary equivalent to that of her male counterpart, is still restricting working women’s wages (and women only earn 77 cents to a man’s dollar), it’s far too likely that a woman could end up marrying a man who makes more than her. But considering that legislative bodies across the United States, forming a law-making monopoly predominantly dominated by men, are well-aware of wage inequality yet have remained relatively inactive, in some cases men are preventing women from earning wages equivalent or greater than their spouses.
“Female privilege is being able to decide not to have a child.”
Ever since Roe v. Wade legalized abortions in 1973, efforts have been made to curb and overturn this judicial decision in an attempt to strip women of a right to their bodies. Reproductive rights have been debated for centuries, not just in pro-choice and pro-life terms, but also regarding the use of contraceptives in general. Having a child is not a private decision, but one that society, male and female, collectively has a vested interest.
And lastly, “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.”
While this particular so-called female privilege stems from one archaic paradigm, “men are bread-winners, women are caregivers,” the rest of these are from ones such as “men are dominant, women are submissive” and “men are strong, women are weak.” Women, with their “female privilege” are left to shoulder the blame for oppressive, assumptive gender norms and a culture in which men still maintain the upper hand. What society, what Saunders, fails to understand is that women no longer want to carry these labels.
The Daily Cardinal then tackled this topic in an article entitled “Gender is an oppressive social construct.” The author, a self-labeled “feminist,” asserts that even though women are oppressed, they are actually simultaneously granted certain privileges. One example cited is the author’s female friend, who was able to wear a dress that sexualized her, a privilege that a man cannot share because “there is no way for a male to hyper-sexualize himself and be taken seriously in any social setting.”
First of all, men are certainly able to dress in a way to sexualize themselves. Just because the author of this article is male and may not acknowledge that this is the case does not mean it’s not possible.
Additionally, making the assessment that oppression actually gives the oppressed certain privileges is demonstrative of complete ignorance on the author’s part. It’s comparable to saying that, although Black people have unarguably experienced injustice and oppression, by being able to use the “n-word,” they have privilege.
The author then mentions that his female friend was violated by a strange man who grabbed her butt, something that he argues wouldn’t have happened if the strange man was brought up in a society in which men could be hyper-sexualized too, to gain a better understanding of mutual respect.
So basically, if men and women both had the same opportunities to express their sexuality, neither gender would feel the need to act with discourtesy toward the other. If both sexes had the same opportunities to experience violations of personal space, rather than just the hyper-sexualized women, gender equity would be promoted, and any notion of privilege would be gone, a notion that is entirely ridiculous.
What both authors fail to realize is that this notion of female privilege, and what it all entails, is often blatantly incorrect and outright unsupported by the females who are supposedly benefiting form this treatment.
Briana Reilly ([email protected]) is a freshman intending to major in journalism and international studies.