Seeing My Male Privilege

Male privilege

Male privilege

By Jonathan Castellanos

I’ve often thought how nice it must be to be white.

Popular, attractive, upper class: these are words I’ve come to associate with whiteness.

But until recently I hadn’t given much thought to privileges I gain from being male.

People are more aware of being underprivileged than overprivileged (we rarely even use the word). That’s because underprivileged people constantly run up against obstacles that make them aware of things that block them. Overprivileged people don’t experience that sort of thing. So overprivilege can feel like normal life.

So I decided to make a list of ways in which I am privileged by being male:

Men have many role models, which makes it easier for us to see ourselves as Presidents, Congressmen, CEOs…

Men aren’t passed up for jobs and promotions because the company worries that they might have children

Men are more likely to be hired and promoted

Men make more money — a dollar to a woman’s $.77

High school men are never sent home because their clothing is too revealing

Men are never shamed for having sex

Men don’t walk around constantly having to worry about being raped

When a woman is raped she is often disbelieved or even blamed for it, instead of the guy who raped her

Men don’t hear things like this:

  • Quit being such a girl
  • Women are fragile, so they can’t do it

This list could go on forever.

I would recommend that everyone think about how they might be privileged, whether by gender, race, class, sexual orientation, good looks…

… and think about how we might create a more equal and just society.

We all deserve to be treated equally and fairly.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on March 24, 2017, in feminism, men, sexism, women and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 32 Comments.

  1. “I’ve often thought how nice it must be to be white.”

    How odd. As you can see in this article, to be American and white, makes you highly likely to be in a sea of despair. It must be nice to be black.
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/new-research-identifies-a-sea-of-despair-among-white-working-class-americans/2017/03/22/c777ab6e-0da6-11e7-9b0d-d27c98455440_story.html?utm_term=.3f46e772e0b0

    “I hadn’t given much thought to the privileges of being male”

    What you mean like being 20x as likely to die in an industrial accident, being almost certain to lose at child custody hearings, to die earlier, to mostly NOT have the choice to either work or being a stay at home parent, unlike women, to be expected to pay for dates and women, to be last in the lifeboat when the ship sinks, to receive far lower prison sentences for the same crime, and then to be raped more than women as a consequence, to have a smaller friends network, and a far higher rate of suicide? Dead, broke, imprisoned, raped, and estranged from your kids. Sounds great.

    “Men have many role models such as Presidents, Congressmen, CEOs”.

    Congrats, you now have Trump to model. One in a million people are congressmen or CEOs, it had never even occured to me that such a person was worthy of being a model. Anyway, there are many women congresswomen, and CEOs. Just how many does a woman need to live her life?

    “Men aren’t passed up for jobs because the company worries they might have children”.

    Women almost always do in fact leave the job to have children, so it seems odd to complain when it is the very thing they actually want to do. Men on the other hand don’t even get the choice. MassiveFemale privilege.

    “Men are more likely to be hired and promoted”.

    Not true. To take just one example Veteranarians are 50% male, 50% female.

    “Men make more money”.

    Only true when you realise that women choose to earn less. In Sweden, the most feminist country on earth they found that when correcting for profession and experience, the difference was only 0.5%, or less than 1 cent on the dollar. Not much to pay for being 20x less likely to die in an industrial accident huh? In the US, Australia, Canada the difference was about 4%, and even this would probably disappear if we looked into more factors.

    “High school men are never sent home because their clothing is too revealing”.

    High school men don’t attempt to display their bodies like teenage girls. Anyway, we had uniforms when I went to school, so I feel zero empathy.

    “Men are never shamed for having sex”.

    Rubbish. Men are continually shamed for their sexuality. Read this article: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/women-who-stray/201604/shaming-men-doesnt-build-healthy-sexuality

    “Men don’t walk around constantly having to worry about being raped”.

    Well adjusted women don’t worry about it either.

    “When a woman is raped she is often disbelieved”.

    When a woman lies about being raped she is usually believed and the man is disbelieved. The idea a woman is usually disbelieved is laughable.

    “Men don’t hear things like:
    Quit being such a girl”.

    Men hear this all the time! I don’t think girls hear it, because they are in fact girls, and being one if you are one is no shame.

    “The list could go on forever”.

    Yeah, it could if you are making it up to play the victim priviledge game.

    • As I wrote to Bob, But just because men are privileged doesn’t mean that men always benefit. In fact, male privilege can backfire.

      Because of their privilege, Men face high expectations for success, And it’s impossible for everyone to be at the top. So men feel worse about themselves and are more likely to commit suicide when they don’t succeed.

      We value traits that are associated with males more than females. But those traits can end up hurting men. Don’t cry… Hold your emotions in… Don’t depend on anyone else… All of that is really hard on man, But it’s hard to escape because we value those traits more then traits associated with women. If we held them equally men wouldn’t be hurt. But you need gender equality to value all the traits equally.

      Also, Women don’t choose to get paid less. I interviewed parents of preschool age children and asked the women why they were the ones who chose to stay home with children when husband and wife are both saying, “I can’t possibly get home in time to pick up Timmy you need to do it” and they decided that someone needed to stay home. The women Felt like they didn’t want to emasculate your husbands so they agreed to. And women and men both internalized the idea that women are the primary nurturer. These are internalizations and the opposite of choice.

      And while it’s true that when one Parent leaves work to care for children it is almost always the woman it is not true that women almost always leave work to stay home with children. They mostly don’t.

      What’s describe in that article as male sexuality isn’t actually male sexuality. You don’t find those behaviors everywhere. You find them in patriarchies that objectify women.

      Some of the other things you wrote are also inaccurate but I’m not going to get into all of it. People can do their own research.

  2. Well I guess it’s good at the end he said everyone should look as what their privilege is based on race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. There are even benefits based on looks and height too. But I thought you said, this isn’t from men doing this to women but our culture. So while men might be more valued in this culture, I think men have it better overall, because of the severity of things women have on the bad side like rape and such. But if there is such privilege for men then it should be pretty much utopian for men right? It’s not though. That guy named all the things men have, but I can go on a list for men that hurts men and doesn’t hurt women or helps women.

    “Quit being such a girl
    Women are fragile, so they can’t do it”

    He said that. Well women aren’t told to “woman up”, but men are to man up.

    Women aren’t told not to cry or to be tough. Men are.

    If a man was raped by a woman (yes rare), it wouldn’t be believed but also told he’s making it up, and in general a man sexually assaulted is a wimp or gay if it’s something that bothers him.

    Women are rarely seen as a perve or creep if approaching a guy that is unwanted even if it might actually be innocent. Any guy, some guys more than others, can have that if glancing or holding a glanced longer. Basically it’s much easier for a man to be seen as a perve than woman. I mean you even had those 27 year old teachers having sex with 15 year old students and the female teacher gets punished legally, but she is seen much less as a perve than say if it’s a male teacher having sex with girl student.

    So there are benefits women get that men don’t too. Well I can go into the sexual power part too, but leave it at that. Can get into the dating and approaching, pay for dates, etc. Women aren’t expect to pursue men and their feminity isn’t judged if they are shy or hard to approach guys Guys can be judged for being shy or nervous on approaching women.

    Women aren’t in an emotional straight jacket like men. Men have a rigid, well straight men have rigid line of being able to express themselves, This doesn’t sound like a privilege, but a burden. You should have benefits if such privileged right?

    Let’s talk about the workplace. There are double standards when it comes with sexual harassment too. Women deal with sexism and that is bad. But women get much much more leeway than men if women are the culprits. He said it’s harder for women to be promoted or something. I guess it depends on the company, because the company I work at has just as many female managers, suprvisors as men. And the assistant store general manager is a woman. And there was a female that was there before but went to another store so even with that we still have a top manager. Looking at pictures from my company showing managers all across the US and world for said company, there are as many store managers that are female as racially diverse too as far as management too. There is racial diversity too as far as employees too. But a man is much much easier for a man to be fired or demoted, suspended etc over sexual harassment than a woman. I’m not talking about because one is done more, but a woman doing the same thing as a guy is less likely to be put to notice by male “victim” and if done by managment, conscious or sub consciouly she’s less like to be punished for it or as severely as a man doing the same thing to female employee.

    It’s happened. A guy I don’t know but know of, who friends talked about. He was suspended or fired as a police officer because a female officer he was having relations with. This is consensual. She was one who could be vindictive and crazy. She was mad or wanted the relations over, I don’t know but she reported him for sexual harassment. The work force knew it wasn’t from what came at the workplace, but their consensual relations in privacy, but it didn’t matter. He was suspended or fired despite her “sexually harassing him just as much as him to her” right? She had sex with him just as much as he her right? But she’s the victim, he can’t be. Equality right? And where I worked. A girl who used to work at the place, she kind of hooked up with some guys at the workplace. Well in the beginning of the store, a girl was dating or in a fwb thing with a guy who was seasonal.

    BEfore the end where they let go of the seasonals. I guess they were getting rid of him anyway, but being fired looks bad on your resume regardless. If was let go as a seasonal thats one thing but to be fired, that’s not right. Guess what? I guess she got self conscious or something and just wanted to stop seeing him or hooking up with guys but instead of just breaking up or whatever, she thought she’d just bring up sexual harassment on him, Well I mean technically he was touching her sexually right? But from what I know it wasn’t at the workplace, but when they were in private outside of work, you know having consensual sex. She was touching him too I’m sure, but guess who loses out? Yep the man, not the woman. Guess what happens if he tried it with her? Probably nothing.

    • Is not men that cause the problem. It’s patriarchy.

      But when you talk about male privilege people often mistake and think the critique is about individual men.

      Patriarchy doesn’t even seem to have been caused by men purposefully seeking privilege over women. Odd things like preventing inbreeding, living in infertile areas and agriculture seem to have caused patriarchy.

      Once you have it both Women and men internalize it — the system gets into our minds unconsciously — because we are swimming in it. It’s all around us and seems natural and normal.

      But just because men are privileged doesn’t mean that men always benefit. In fact, male privilege can backfire.

      Because of their privilege, Men face high expectations for success, And it’s impossible for everyone to be at the top. So men feel worse about themselves and are more likely to commit suicide when they don’t succeed.

      We value traits that are associated with males more than females. But those traits can end up hurting men. Don’t cry… Hold your emotions in… Don’t depend on anyone else… All of that is really hard on man, But it’s hard to escape because we value those traits more then traits associated with women. If we held them equally men wouldn’t be hurt. But you need gender equality to value all the traits equally.

      • But just because men are privileged doesn’t mean that men always benefit. In fact, male privilege can backfire.”

        Well then it’s not truly, completely a privilege. It’s partially a privilege. If it’s actually all privilege, then there wouldn’t be such negative things against men, Men can have some advantages, but I never liked the word privilege. If you’re so privileged, then life should be handed to you on a silver spoon right? And it was for some “Donald Trump” and the like. But in some ways, women get privileges for being women and not having such expectations and like where they can say or do things to men and not get in trouble or both can do the same thing, but the female as the victim and not male. The male should be as much of the victim if the sitation comes to that, but most often he won’t or man seen as wimp if does come forward for something whereas she doesn’t.

      • It is privilege but it’s harming them.

        It’s valuing men and traits associated with masculinity over women and traits associated with femininity. That is a privilege. But it ends up harming men.

        It’s giving men more advantages. That’s a privilege. But that advantage comes with higher expectations, which many men– Probably most– can’t meet. That ends up hurting men.

        See?

        Gender equality would solve problems for both women and men.

  3. I love that illustrative image, which speaks volumes on Male Privilege!

  4. I’m not loving the comments here. I’ve really had it with all the ignorance. I don’t think my life has room for people like this anymore.

    • I have to balance which comments to approve because yes, there are trolls who write in with the goal of polluting people’s perceptions of the post. Studies have found that this can actually be effective.

      On the other hand, I do think that it can be helpful to hear “The other side” and most of the comments are actually pretty positive.

      So for those who are just trying to create a bias toward an article, I may or may not choose to post one or two comments. But they will not be the first or second comment if I feel like their motivation is primarily trolling. But if they make a point that is commonly heard, I will post it because I think it’s important to deal with ideas that are “out there.”

      Thanks for making this comment. I will amend my comment policy.

  5. I think it is a huge mistake to lump all while males into the same category. Yes, some were born privileged and some were not born privileged and we tend to be natural enemies of one another, since the privileged throw us under the bus quickly to demonstrate the progress others are making.

    • First I should say that this has nothing to do with creating enemies. It has to do with creating greater understanding and justice.

      Well he is not lumping all men together. He starts out by talking about how he is not privilege because of his race.

      In class we talk about how people may be privileged because of one characteristic but harmed by another demographic characteristic.

      For instance, I am privileged because of the color of my white skin. But I am harmed because of my gender. Studies consistently show that women are perceived as less intelligent than men, they receive lower pay and fewer promotions, they are more likely to be raped — and rape and battering are virtually unheard of in gender-equal societies… I could go on.

      Other people are privileged because they are straight and cis gender (their gender identity matches their biology).

      Others are privileged because they have money. When I was young I grew up in a family with no money and so I experienced the underprivileged side of that. Now I have money and I experience the privilege of that. Jonathan is a college student so he is likely on the underprivileged side financially right now.

      And even a Latina woman who makes $200,000 a year can be more privileged than a white man who makes $400,000 a year — if her name is Sonia Sotomayor and she is one of the most powerful people on earth.

      You can also argue that some people are privileged by being blessed with intelligence or talent. You won the lottery. Others weren’t so lucky.

      All of us are probably privileged in some ways and hurt in others. It can be helpful to think about how we are privileged because typically our privilege is invisible.

      And when we can’t recognize our privilege we tend to behave in ways that are last just than they could be.

      If you have more thoughts on this I would be interested to hear them.

      But thanks for giving me an idea for a future blog post 🙂

      • Even though men have things better overall, or in the serious aspects. I’m not denying that. Some guys might. But maybe I read too much into what he was saying, and he said people should look into their privileges. But it seems like he’s saying that in every way, women don’t have benefits on men based on their sex. Men do have more advantages, but that shouldn’t mean men have every advantage to women. It doesn’t matter if it’s due to men being ranked higher, women can still have a privilege from this lower ranking to say express themselves which men can’t. That’s a benefit privilege women have. So women’s sex can help them with that. And there can be discrimination that can happen upon men.

        Like I said with women can do something bad toward a man and either get a slap on the wrist or get away with it, because women get the benefit or privilege of being seen as innocent or not having predator capabilities. I’ve been in breaks rooms at work, and women talking about things that were too much information about their genitals and stuff. And some that were talking about this hot guys body, openly and I remember thinking. They are doing that and know they can do this because they are women. If I talked about a hot woman’s body working in the other department even if it was more innocent or basically harmless or maybe a joke. My ass would be written up or suspended for sexual harassment in a millisecond. Men have it better overall, but let’s not think women can benefit in weird ways and have a privilege, if they want to abuse things. Yes gender equality should happen because obviously women don’t want that privilege, they want to be seen like men and have same advantages elsewhere, and men would not want the burden place on them too. But this shouldn’t mean that even though men have more opportunities, that there aren’t things women benefit more based on their sex than men do. It made it seem like he implied, women wouldn’t have a list of things they have benefits or privilege on men based on their sex.

      • Sure, what you say is true. But the point of this exercise was to look at how you were privileged whether it is due to White skin, Male gender, middle class or up financially, being straight or cisgender… Demographic things.

        But in class I also have the students think about how privilege actually can end up hurting you too.

  6. It is privilege but it’s harming them.””

    That sounds like a contradiction. There’s an advantage because of ranking for me. But if it can harm men or men can be harmed based on their sex, then it’s not as much of a privilege as people think. There’s some, but not completely when guy’s dealing with things against them sure aren’t privileged or feeling that way.

  7. Thank you for writing about male privilege from a man’s perspective. I often come across white men who fail to recognize their privilege because of classism- many believe wealth is the only pathway to privilege, largely because the word ‘privilege’ colloquially implies class standing.

    Class privilege is one form of privilege- there are people of color with lots of it. Some obviously more than others because it does not take whiteness to obtain class privilege.

    However..

    White men accrue privileges that wealthy South Asians, blacks and Chinese people lack. When whites walk down a street in ghettoized clothing, they are highly unlikely to be policed for it. People typically associate ghettoized culture with black culture, so when Riff Raff appropriates black hair he is glorified, not demeaned. Another example is rock superstar Elvis Presley, who succeeded largely because of his whiteness- he was a poor, Southern boy who understood black and white culture equally well. He used his white skin/race privilege to introduce mass audiences to black music because black faces are not as familiar, normal or mainstream to most of America. It is far less likely to find a black face than a white face in the United States- whites comprise around 80% of the national population.

    When wealthy South Asians, Chinese and other nonwhites try appropriating black culture, they are typically shamed for it. We look at shows like Fresh off the Boat and stereotype Eddie Huang, a middle- to upper-middle class Asian kid, as a “gangster Asian” as if Asians could not be gangsters. We also look at Kevin G from Mean Girls and think the same thing. Lindsay Lohan’s “Did you just say ‘thang?'” and accompanying look of confusion say it all- you’re Indian, you’re a math nerd, why are you using slang attributed to blacks? Stay in your lane.

    There are clearly delineated ‘lanes’ for people of color, sexual minorities and women- no matter their class standing. For white men, it’s a much different story- our society was created by them, so their cultural opportunities are seemingly boundless. You can be anything without social stigma- long as you are white, male, heterosexual, healthy and well-educated.

  8. Thanks for posting this! It’s quite sobering to think that in the same way white privilege is often overlooked by those who have it, the same is the case for male privilege. I bet if you surveyed men across the country they would feel the same as Jonathan who wrote the article. In other words, very few would appreciate that they are privileged in almost every aspect of life compared to women.

    It is always difficult to see things from another person’s perspective, and I think that is even more the case if we need to imagine ourselves as a different gender. I remember many years ago watching an experiment in Europe where the male partners of pregnant women had a harness strapped to their front which helped them feel what it was like to have a baby inside them. It was amazing to see the men moaning and complaining about their sore backs or the pressure on their bladder. It made me realize that until we really make the effort to walk in the shoes of the other sex, we really haven’t a clue how difficult their life is.

    I would encourage everyone to follow Jonathan’s advice and place yourself in the shoes of whoever you feel you need to be in touch with more. Promoting knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the oppressed and minorities will hopefully bring equality closer.

  9. Sure, what you say is true. But the point of this exercise was to look at how you were privileged whether it is due to White skin, Male gender, middle class or up financially, being straight or cisgender… Demographic things.”

    It seems like a “faux privilege if the same thing “gender, race, age, etc causes a person to get an advantage or opportunity, is the same thing that burdens them or hurts them. All people know from the work privilege and what its’ to mean is everything positive and hardly anything negative. I think it’s why it’s easy for people to get defenseive, because of how we grow up learning or associate with “privilege”. That one poster is right as I and I think many people, maybe white people see privilege in a classism aspect. You know, rich, spoiled, has it all, life handed to them. Life on silver spoon. So it’s easy to get upset when a white person who is not rich, actually barely getting by like many or most white people.

    And they work their ass off, nothing handed to them,maybe they help take care of their autistic sibling in between college. You know adversities and all this stuff. And then others are telling you, you are “privileged” and got it good or even if it is an advantage it can feel like your plight is dismissed and/or the success you get…discredited. Like a minority getting the position or same status as you, it’s more impressive because the obstances they had due to their race. But it discounts what mother nature and personal adversities said white person could have that maybe the specific black person doesn’t have. It feels like when that privilege word is used…there’s a “yeah, but”. Yeah, but white men have it better. Yeah you are successful and good job, BUT, you had this, you had that.

    Stuff like that is not good as it can cause people to resent each other instead of trying to put themselves in each other’s foot. That’s what can create some people to have a chip on their shoulder. But probably another reason like you’ve said that we need equality but a less hierarchal culture too. Because these feelings and anger many times is from people internalizing this need to be at the top and better than others. Which can cause this clash with egos and trying to prove why one deserves or is better and this competing mentality.

    • If you create equality and the problem goes away, Then the root of the problem was that some people are more privileged than others.

      The privilege creates problems. Higher expectations. A felt need to attached only to traits assigned to your particular demographic. Those things can be depressing and limiting. But they are directly tied to privilege.

  10. I think privileged often fail to realized their privilege, and as you stated many people who were underprivileged would feel it more real due to obstacle in life they experienced; however, sometimes women will fail to realized that they are underprivileged and oppressed because it’s been very long women were treat differently and unequally in a patriarchy society. And more unfairly that we live in a world with double-bind; for example, wearing a short skirt will be defined as “slut”, but covered-up too much will be defined as “dull”; staying at home as housewife would be seen as lazy, but working outside would be defined as don’t care about family and children; and not only men would judge us by those opinions, women do that, too. Some female dislike women who are active about sex because they felt that’s the reason why others don’t respect women, and sexualize women. In short, whether what we do there will always a bar in front of us while men with more freedom on them, so there still a long way to achieve equality, and both women and men should concern those issues because sometimes the oppressed can also be the oppressor.

    • Yes, when you are privileged it is hard to see it because you don’t have any blockages that force you to see it. Very different from those who are underprivileged.

      I think it’s really good idea for everyone to take some time to think about the ways that they are privileged by accident of birth.

      Maybe our understanding and compassion for others will increase.

  11. This posting talks about fairness and equality. From a pessimistic point of view, I don’t like true fairness and equality is ever going to be achieved by humanity. It is kind of like the bullied eventually becomes the bully. The people that are oppressed now, will eventually rise to the top due to the tough circumstances they have had to endure generation after generation. And eventually, these oppressed people are going to take the power and oppress the people they were being bullied by in the past. At least that’s how history seems to be going up until this point. I feel that if people could have empathy and somehow truly feel what another person is going through in their lives; and how those emotions that everyone feels are all the same in the end. We all go through different things within life, with different emotions being generated by difference scenarios; and if we can just try and put ourselves in each other’s shoes and walk a day in their shoes I think we would all get along much better.

    • Well that is how domination societies work. When that is what you see around you it starts to seem natural and normal and Leica can’t change. And yet there are societies that are partnership oriented. Some pre-patriarchal societies. But also the modern-day Nordic countries are making great strides toward equality.

  12. So what did you think of the other privileges I brought up too?

    • I can’t see your comments. Can you do the bullet points on the three things?

      • I posted one like Friday and I didn’t think it was that long. I brought up how one of the most overlooked privileges, since you brought up when answering one of the posters with how looks, intelligence and even talent could be thought as a privilege too. And it’s good too look at what privileges you have. I think everyone should be grateful for what they have, but strive to helps others too so everyone can be equal. But one of the biggest privileges, not social but mother nature one’s I think is health.

        Having the privilege to not be terminally ill, having vision that a blind person doesn’t have or hearing that a deaf person doesn’t have, etc. I also brought up autism, with how there’s a lot of discrimination with sexism, racism, homophobia, but you can also think of the privilege of other things too. It’s interesting thought because the privilege can go in different directions. A healthy black man not have a race advantage lika white man with down’s syndrome, but the black man has a privilege can have an advantage in that, that the white man with down’s syndrome has and the obstacles autistic people can have. There can be discrimination or thought lesser than upon them, not to mention the r word.

        Then I brought up how even when a person seems to have it all. You can’t over look clinical depression which is hidden or bi polar and other mental disorders. And people think a person might have a good life, but they are burdened with mental illness. That Corey Simon poem I brought up and you posted, it makes me think it’s relevance to actor Robin Williams. Well people loved his humor and his genuine heart, unfortunately he didn’t have the same love for himself. But it makes me think of that. Look he was privileged in many ways, but yet not privileged in the most important way, as far as his depression and self esteem? He and others seemed to have it all, but yet people who had less or less privileges actually had what they needed, but don’t always see it.

      • You make some good points. It’s good to consider the whole picture. And it’s also good to consider specifically how we are privileged.

        😎

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