Pharyngula

Two checklists for feminists

That implicit consent thread has just broken a thousand comments, so I’m closing it and inviting everyone to move here.

Just to keep it interesting, I found (via Jen) a couple of lists. The one on the left is from one of those liberal progressive sites, and clarifies the whole issue of male privilege, which many of the commenters still fail to comprehend. The one on the right is from a batty wingnut site, where each point is greatly expanded into an exercise in blaming women.

Here’s your opportunity to find some common ground, I hope. There probably aren’t many commenters here who find the list on the right in any way convincing or based on reasoning and evidence (at least, I don’t think Lubos Motl is a commenter here.)

The Male Privilege Checklist

1. My odds of being hired for a job, when competing against female applicants, are probably skewed in my favor. The more prestigious the job, the larger the odds are skewed.

2. I can be confident that my co-workers won?t think I got my job because of my sex ? even though that might be true. (More).

3. If I am never promoted, it?s not because of my sex.

4. If I fail in my job or career, I can feel sure this won?t be seen as a black mark against my entire sex?s capabilities.

5. I am far less likely to face sexual harassment at work than my female co-workers are. (More).

6. If I do the same task as a woman, and if the measurement is at all subjective, chances are people will think I did a better job.

7. If I?m a teen or adult, and if I can stay out of prison, my odds of being raped are relatively low. (More).

8. On average, I am taught to fear walking alone after dark in average public spaces much less than my female counterparts are.

9. If I choose not to have children, my masculinity will not be called into question.

10. If I have children but do not provide primary care for them, my masculinity will not be called into question.

11. If I have children and provide primary care for them, I?ll be praised for extraordinary parenting if I?m even marginally competent. (More).

12. If I have children and a career, no one will think I?m selfish for not staying at home.

13. If I seek political office, my relationship with my children, or who I hire to take care of them, will probably not be scrutinized by the press.

14. My elected representatives are mostly people of my own sex. The more prestigious and powerful the elected position, the more this is true.

15. When I ask to see ?the person in charge,? odds are I will face a person of my own sex. The higher-up in the organization the person is, the surer I can be.

16. As a child, chances are I was encouraged to be more active and outgoing than my sisters. (More).

17. As a child, I could choose from an almost infinite variety of children?s media featuring positive, active, non-stereotyped heroes of my own sex. I never had to look for it; male protagonists were (and are) the default.

18. As a child, chances are I got more teacher attention than girls who raised their hands just as often. (More).

19. If my day, week or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether or not it has sexist overtones.

20. I can turn on the television or glance at the front page of the newspaper and see people of my own sex widely represented.

21. If I?m careless with my financial affairs it won?t be attributed to my sex.

22. If I?m careless with my driving it won?t be attributed to my sex.

23. I can speak in public to a large group without putting my sex on trial.

24. Even if I sleep with a lot of women, there is no chance that I will be seriously labeled a “slut,” nor is there any male counterpart to “slut-bashing.” (More).

25. I do not have to worry about the message my wardrobe sends about my sexual availability. (More).

26. My clothing is typically less expensive and better-constructed than women?s clothing for the same social status. While I have fewer options, my clothes will probably fit better than a woman?s without tailoring. (More).

27. The grooming regimen expected of me is relatively cheap and consumes little time. (More).

28. If I buy a new car, chances are I?ll be offered a better price than a woman buying the same car. (More).

29. If I?m not conventionally attractive, the disadvantages are relatively small and easy to ignore.

30. I can be loud with no fear of being called a shrew. I can be aggressive with no fear of being called a bitch.

31. I can ask for legal protection from violence that happens mostly to men without being seen as a selfish special interest, since that kind of violence is called ?crime? and is a general social concern. (Violence that happens mostly to women is usually called ?domestic violence? or ?acquaintance rape,? and is seen as a special interest issue.)

32. I can be confident that the ordinary language of day-to-day existence will always include my sex. ?All men are created equal,? mailman, chairman, freshman, he.

33. My ability to make important decisions and my capability in general will never be questioned depending on what time of the month it is.

34. I will never be expected to change my name upon marriage or questioned if I don?t change my name.

35. The decision to hire me will not be based on assumptions about whether or not I might choose to have a family sometime soon.

36. Every major religion in the world is led primarily by people of my own sex. Even God, in most major religions, is pictured as male.

37. Most major religions argue that I should be the head of my household, while my wife and children should be subservient to me.

38. If I have a wife or live-in girlfriend, chances are we?ll divide up household chores so that she does most of the labor, and in particular the most repetitive and unrewarding tasks. (More).

39. If I have children with my girlfriend or wife, I can expect her to do most of the basic childcare such as changing diapers and feeding.

40. If I have children with my wife or girlfriend, and it turns out that one of us needs to make career sacrifices to raise the kids, chances are we?ll both assume the career sacrificed should be hers.

41. Assuming I am heterosexual, magazines, billboards, television, movies, pornography, and virtually all of media is filled with images of scantily-clad women intended to appeal to me sexually. Such images of men exist, but are rarer.

42. In general, I am under much less pressure to be thin than my female counterparts are. (More). If I am fat, I probably suffer fewer social and economic consequences for being fat than fat women do. (More).

43. If I am heterosexual, it?s incredibly unlikely that I?ll ever be beaten up by a spouse or lover. (More).

44. Complete strangers generally do not walk up to me on the street and tell me to ?smile.? (More: 1 2).

45. Sexual harassment on the street virtually never happens to me. I do not need to plot my movements through public space in order to avoid being sexually harassed, or to mitigate sexual harassment. (More.)

45. On average, I am not interrupted by women as often as women are interrupted by men.

46. I have the privilege of being unaware of my male privilege.

8 Ways Fascist Feminists Are Ruining America’s Women

8. Encouraging Promiscuity

7. Sanctioning Victimhood

6. Dabbling In Misandry

5. Destroying Chivalry

4. Attacking Motherhood

3. Requiring A Feminist Litmus Test

2. Promoting Lies and Manipulation

1. Glorifying Abortion

In the list on the left, it’s true for me on 45 out of 46; the only exception is #15, just because of the quirks of being at this particular small liberal arts university.

Comments

  1. #1 Deviant One
    August 4, 2010

    For anyone interested in REAL egagement of the topic, instead of just complaining how men face sexism too (did you see that ampersand cartoon, with the dude with the backpack complaining about his “burden” to the people heaving under MOUNTAINS of shit? That.):

    On Privilege: what it is and what it ain’t

    Money quotes:

    Privilege is: About how society accommodates you. It’s about advantages you have that you think are normal. It’s about you being normal, and others being the deviation from normal. It’s about fate dealing from the bottom of the deck on your behalf.
    Almost everyone who is reading this had some form of privilege. If you are a member of three marginalized groups, in ill health, and poor, you’re still able to access and use the internet, both demonstrating and conferring privilege.

    Some privileges are easy to demonstrate: Can you go into a random restaurant and order food? That’s not something that those with food allergies, diabetics, celiacs, or a range of other conditions can count on. It’s not something people whose religious convictions include following Kosher, Halal or other faith-based dietary restrictions (there are Christians, Buddhists and others to whom this applies) can count on in western society either.

    Some privileges are harder to demonstrate: If you get a job, to what extent was that based on the way you look, your gender, your accent, your connections? How can you tell?

    What you can do about your privilege: This one is harder, but the first and fundamental thing we can do is to be aware we have it. Please don’t try to come up with reasons why you are an exception: why your white privilege “didn’t help you” in X situation. First, you’re embarrassing me, and second, you’re missing the point.

    When I was in high school, we played a game we called Asshole, or to be polite, Donkey, which was a basic discard card game. The twist was that after each round, when the next round’s cards were dealt, the loser had to give their two highest cards to the winner, who could give any two cards to the loser. Obviously, this set-up disadvantaged the loser, and benefited the winner. But even with that advantage, the loser could still win the next round, and the winner could still lose. That doesn’t mean there was a level playing field.

    Be aware of the things you can do because you’re privileged. Be aware of their impact. Be aware of the things other people can’t do because they lack that privilege. Own your privilege.

    Another good resource about starting to understand (and in some cases even NOTICE privilege):When Worlds Collide: Fandom and Male Privilege

    [T]rue gender equality is actually perceived as inequality. A group that is made up of 50% women is perceived as being mostly women. A situation that is perfectly equal between men and women is perceived as being biased in favor of women.

    And if you don’t believe me, you’ve never been a married woman who kept her family name. I have had students hold that up as proof of my “sexism.” My own brother told me that he could never marry a woman who kept her name because “everyone would know who ruled that relationship.” Perfect equality – my husband keeps his name and I keep mine – is held as a statement of superiority on my part.

    After a while, we began organizing “chick nights,” gatherings of just the four of us and maybe some other women we knew from outside the group. For reasons that were often kind of bizarre, some of the men in the group took exception to this. They never organized nights at which we were excluded. When we pointed out that by the law of averages, a good half of the various social outings ended up being guy-only, they replied that it was not the same thing.

    “Look,” I finally said to one of them, “when we get together Saturday night, we’re going to paint our nails and put goop on our faces and play with each others’ hair and watch movies with really hot guys and talk about how hot the guys are and probably talk about sex and periods and all that fun stuff. Do you really have any interest in that?”

    “No,” he replied, “but we could do other stuff instead.”

    At which point I walked away, because otherwise things would have ended either with a rant on how it was not only more socially accepted but socially expected for women to be interested in stereotypically guy things than for guys to get into stereotypically female things (which I didn’t want to do, because really, we all did love gaming and horror movies and science fiction all that fun stuff), or else with me banging my head on the table.

    We live in a culture of male privilege.

    ANOTHER primer: Check my WHAT?

    I really suggest you read that one THOROUGHLY, I can’t quote only a snippet here.

    Lastly, for those of you crying “FEMALE PRIVILEGE” and “FEMINSTS ARE SEXIST!”:

    1.) Feminists are Sexist!:

    Read the whole thing. It deals in broad with issues that face males, that HARM men, and that are CAUSED by the very system feminists are fighting against. However, the point is this:

    What this is really about is men accusing feminists of sexism and hypocrisy unless they can prove that they spend exactly half of their time, energy, and resources on campaigning on behalf of men. What this is really about is that if feminism only improves the lives of women, it has no value or importance. What this is really about is that feminism only has value if it works on behalf of men and improves the lives of men. What this is really about is anti-feminist men being threatened by women working for women. What they’re really saying is that to talk about women, to focus on women, to point out that something affects women badly; all of this is of no importance or value. It’s classic, really – because men are not always the focus of attention of feminism, these anti-feminists can’t stand it.

    Gay rights activists aren’t expected to spend half their time campaigning for heterosexuals. Anti-racism activists aren’t expected to spend ages campaigning on behalf of white people. Yet its a different story with feminism, isn’t it? The most infuriating thing about this is that – as regular readers will know – I do think that feminism is important for men as well as women and I encourage both men and women to critique mainstream masculinity as well as femininity. But that doesn’t mean that I think that every single instance of feminist activism has to be prefaced with a disclaimer about how this also benefits men. Frankly, I’m getting a little bored of it. I believe it strongly, but there’s only so many times I am forced to repeat it before it gets a little wearing and I start to wonder why I have to keep doing it in the first place.

    Well, to cut a long story short:

    1. I believe that feminism benefits men, and patriarchy hurts men too…
    2. …but – and this is the KEY point – even if this weren’t the case, feminism would still be valuable because it improves the lives of women, and this on it’s own has value, because – duh! – women’s lives have value. Gees, don’t you get it yet?
    3. Part of being a feminist is accepting that people should not assume they can speak on behalf of other people. For example, a white feminist should not assume she can speak on behalf of black feminists’ experiences, a heterosexual woman shouldn’t assume she can speak on behalf of lesbians, and so on. With this in mind, why should I, as a woman, be expected to think, speak, and act, on behalf of men? Wouldn’t that be rather arrogant of me? Yet this is exactly what these men are demanding female feminists do. Well frankly, if it’s that important to these men, then they should take action themselves instead of wasting their time attacking those of us who are bothering to take action on gender issues.
    4. At the end of the day, there are feminists who concentrate on men’s issues, some who do work on both genders, and some who concentrate solely on improving the world for women. All are useful aspects of feminism. All have validity, and none of them should have to apologise for their focus.

    (Feminsts who work on men’s issues can be found here – numerous resources, numerous articles, all about the menz, how Patriarchy Hurts Men Too, and what this organization is DOING about it. Just FYI.)

    2. On Female Privilege

    “Not only is it subjectively favorable in its characterization of women, but it promises that men’s power will be used to women’s advantage, if only they can secure a high-status male protector.”

    Without any context it could easily be seen as talking about “female privilege”, but in fact it’s an explanation of why benevolent sexism is so easily accepted by women. Now, if this were the only factor at work, then saying that “female privilege” is better called benevolent sexism would be splitting hairs. But the reason that benevolent sexism works and “female privilege” does not is because it better identifies the system behind the beliefs.

    To understand why the term “female privilege” obscures the root of the problem, it’s first necessary to distinguish the difference between the concepts that make it up and those that make up male privilege. For the most part, women do gain some benefits from the chivalric beliefs that are often chalked up to “female privilege”, just like men gain some benefits from the system of male privilege. However, the difference is that the status quo for men is one which grants them status and power in both the public and private spheres, whereas the status quo for women is one which limits their power to the much smaller, and more specific, domestic sphere.

    Put another way:

    Eagly and Mladinic (1993) pointed out that the favorable, communal traits ascribed to women (e.g., nurturing, helpful, and warm) suit them for domestic roles, whereas men are presumed to possess the traits associated with competence at high-status roles (e.g., independent, ambitious, and competitive). Furthermore, women’s stereotypically communal attributes are also the traits of deference that, when enacted in daily interaction, place a person in a subordinate, less powerful position (Ridgeway, 1992). Thus, the favorable traits attributed to women may reinforce women’s lower status.
    [Glick and Fiske (February 2001).]

    Seriously. If you’re still trying to argue, at least get you an edumacation. Also, I’m working on rebutting that “Female Privilege list”, I just wanted to throw this in first.

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