The concept of privilege: who has it, who doesn’t and ‘what’s this got to do with feminism’?

Posted: April 13, 2014 in Uncategorized

I’d like to start this particular entry with a quick announcement. I’ve created a page on Facebook to share all these entries. I’m very happy with the exposure it’s getting, and I have a lot of people to thank for that, namely the guys at Anti White-Knight Coalition and I Don’t Need Feminism who are regular promoters of this blog, and for the guys at Exposing Feminism for letting me post these directly to their site. I won’t stop the way I post them at the moment, it just provides another way of getting this blog out there, and gives me a nice ego boost in the process. So go and check it out, give it a like and a share. I won’t be posting many status updates, mainly just links to these entries. https://www.facebook.com/johnsalmonsworld

Anyway, with that said, on with the show:

Privilege, it’s a word that gets thrown around a lot in these modern times. Generally speaking, it’s used as a way to silence people. It’s used as a way to try and discredit an opposing view. It’s used as a way of somehow claiming an argument is not valid, particularly if you can’t disagree with what is being said. It’s a tool regularly employed by feminists to shame men who comment on womens issues.

I’m not a fan of dictionary definitions, I’ve made it clear how I think words change and evolve over time. You only have to look at the dictionary definition of feminism, and then compare it to feminism in practice, to see how words and meanings change. However, I’m going to link to the dictionary definition of privilege, because I think, in this case, it does still hold some relevance:

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/privilege

You see, the key word in all of those definitions is ‘person/s’ (or, in one case, ‘individual’). The way that the word privilege is thrown around today, especially by feminists, is to insinuate that all men are privileged and all men take advantage of that privilege to silence women. In the same way, no women are ever privileged, ever. It becomes such that, no matter what a man says, if it doesn’t match the feminist rhetoric then he’s ‘blinded’ by privilege.

This is problematic for 2 reasons: 1) it completely ignores that fact that privilege, generally, applies to people, not groups. One man being privileged does not make all men privileged. 2) it completely ignores the fact that, for similar reasons to number 1, some women not being privileged does not mean all women are free from privilege. It’s so much more difficult a concept to define than simply saying ‘men have privilege by concept of being male’ whereas women ‘don’t have privilege at all’. Feminism has lead women to believe that they do not benefit from any privilege, whereas men are so blinded by their own privilege that they don’t even realise it.

Nowhere is that better demonstrated than this article I came across the other day:

http://thoughtcatalog.com/mark-saunders/2014/04/18-things-females-seem-to-not-understand-because-female-privilege/

It’s a list of 18 ways that women benefit in modern society, possibly without even realising it. Now, it’s no secret I think modern feminism is full of victims, it’s a movement that is intent on making women the sufferers of every known ill on the planet. If there’s a situation that is pretty horrendous all round, well it must impact women worse because of some reason or another. The financial crisis, global warming, etc, etc. No matter that everyone is suffering in one way or another, feminism always finds a way to make women suffer more. That’s insulting to those women who aren’t enveloped in victimhood.

Unfortunately, it seeps into everyday life. It seeps into the pores, the fabric of society and, perhaps without even knowing it, even if they don’t self-identify as feminists, women can still find a way to make themselves the victims.

It doesn’t help that feminists create this culture of fear, this culture of victimhood, this supposed ‘war’ on women themselves. By perpetuating false statistics for things like rape, domestic violence, sexual assault and other such crimes it fosters a belief in women that they are constantly at risk of being raped, constantly at risk of harassment or assault, so much so that women become blind to the privileges they do benefit from and the privileges that hurt men.

Now, I’m not going to go through that list one-by-one to explain why they might all be correct. I’m not going to do it for 2 reasons. 1) I’ve only just finished a blog in which I did that (the rape culture one) and it took me 4 days to do it. 2) This particular blog entry isn’t about female privilege specifically, but just about the concept itself, and perhaps how it relates to feminism.

My point is simple – both men and women benefit from privileges. Whether they think they do or not, whether they’re ‘blinded’ or not, they do. I know I’ve benefitted from societal impressions before and I know I’ve been held back from being taken seriously.

I’ll give an example of each: me and my sister are both fans of rugby, me more so than her but she knows her stuff. I can tell you, for a fact, when talking about rugby people generally talk to me, not her. It’s not a problem because I’ll often just start talking to her instead of the person who spoke to me, it soon makes them realise there are 3 of us in the conversation. That’s me benefitting from privilege. Benefitting from the social perception that, simply by being a man, I know more about rugby than her. That’s the ‘benefit’ I gain from being privileged.

On the other hand, there have been numerous times when conversations, at work, among friends, among friends of friends, have been about films and I have been actively excluded from said discussions because ‘they’re not the sort of films’ I would watch, simply on account of me being a man.

It works both ways. Just to refer to the first point in the above article, I’ll share a short anecdote – when I was at Uni I couldn’t drive. I only passed my test at the end of my first year, so had to spend the time until I got a car taking the train if I wanted to go home for the weekend. In order to get as much out of the weekend as possible, and because of the journey time, I had to leave my house at about 6am. Walking to the train station, especially in winter when it was pitch black and cold, I would often wear a hoodie and a coat and wear my hood up. Numerous times, and I lost count after a couple of weeks, women would cross the street to avoid me. Like, actively cross the street specifically because of me; take a glance and then quickly cross over. How many times did I cross the street because of a woman? That’s right, none. That’s because my gender is demonised as rapists and assaulters, so the woman was probably trying to avoid getting raped.

Just because I’m a man it doesn’t mean I get the monopoly on walking safely down the streets at stupid o’clock in the morning. In fact, I’ve never felt safe walking the streets alone at night, and I’ve done it often enough. It doesn’t matter who I’m wary of either, man or woman, I’ve been accosted by both in my time. I’m not one to take my ‘privilege’ lightly.

The disappointing thing is that the above article was called misogynistic by numerous female commenters. That’s my problem with ‘privilege’, people just can’t accept they have it. It’s been drilled into us so much that the concept of ‘privilege’ is monopolised by men that women are unwilling to believe they actually benefit from it. We all do, men and women, whether or not we want to believe it, it’s true. It’s not a magical concept that all men benefit from, sometimes it works against us, sometimes it works for women, sometimes against. There’s absolutely no way we can quantifiably say ‘men are privileged, women aren’t’. The fact that the first link exists is testament to that. Those points, while not applicable to the entire female gender are examples of privilege. Just because some women haven’t benefitted from it doesn’t mean that no women have benefitted from it, or that it doesn’t exist.

Unfortunately, rather than eliciting a good discussion about the concept of privilege and how it’s difficult to apply and, equally, difficult to automatically dismiss, it instead resulted in this being posted:

http://thoughtcatalog.com/isla-sofia/2014/04/18-reasons-why-the-concept-of-female-privilege-is-insane/

It’s disappointing because the concept of female privilege is not insane at all, in fact it’s very sane. It’s a discussion that, apparently, can only be had between adults mature enough to not cry victim at any given opportunity. Yes, the counter list provided in the above link is a good way of proving that women don’t, as a group, enjoy blanket application of privilege but, rather short-sightedly, it displays a lack of willingness to accept that women do benefit in modern western society.

But ‘what has this got to do with feminism’? It’s simple, feminism teaches women that they are always the victim. It teaches women that, no matter what, no matter if there is an equally distasteful situation applicable to men, they are the ones who have been wronged, they are the ones who are suffering, that is actually impossible for them to hold any power whatsoever over men.

Feminism teaches women that having their pictures taken in public and uploaded to Facebook is misogynistic, discriminatory awfulness:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2602335/Women-Who-Eat-On-Tubes-founder-says-voyeuristic-Facebook-page-trolled-online-barrage-toxic-hatred.html

whereas men having their pictures taken in public and uploaded to Facebook is ‘just a bit of fun’:

http://tubecrush.net/

http://mentakingup2muchspaceonthetrain.tumblr.com/

Why is it ok to take a picture of a man in public and then rate his appearance, but it’s not ok to take a picture of a woman eating in public? That’s female privilege, that’s feminist victimhood. Just a quick note, the Women Who Eat On The Tube (WWEOTT) Facebook page has been up since 2011, yet took only a matter of days to be taken down when the feminists caught wind of it. That’s female privilege. Especially considering I’ve reported numerous, explicit, anti-male pages on Facebook that have not been removed.

Female privilege is seeing this kind of list:

http://www.mandatory.com/2014/04/11/20-guys-reveal-the-creepiest-thing-said-to-them-by-a-girl/

and it being defined as ‘creepy’. Can you imagine 20 examples of assault, harassment and stalking directed at women being described only as ‘creepy’?

Wait, didn’t feminists describe WWEOTT as ‘harassment’? Seems like it takes a lot more for a man to be harassed.

Female privilege is being allowed to get away with bullying a boy, then seeing someone jump to your defence when that boy fights back:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EgG9KvfzxE

Female privilege is seeing a woman get sentenced to life for killing her partner with a shoe, only to be made out to be the victim:

http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/ABC-s-20-20-goes-behind-the-scenes-on-Stiletto-5397419.php?cmpid=htx

Or a woman mutilating a man then murdering him, again to be made out as the victim with a simple claim of rape (a claim that cannot be refuted as the accused is now dead), then being defended by people in the comments section who take that claim as truth:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2578913/Woman-cuts-lovers-penis-scissors-flushes-toilet-kills-hammer-demands-money-sex-threatens-blackmail-nude-photos.html

Or a woman who commits an indecent public act only to be defended by women in the comments who automatically degrade men by way of comparison:

http://metro.co.uk/2014/04/12/northampton-shameless-woman-urinates-on-abington-high-street-4697224/?ITO=Facebook

Or a product that actively endorses violence towards men seen on one of the biggest online marketplaces in the UK (Amazon):

http://i1276.photobucket.com/albums/y472/johnsalmonworld/IMG_2613_zps624af8a2.jpg

It is not my intention to shame or humiliate women, it is simply my intention to highlight the fact that, despite what people think or what is claimed, that privilege both benefits and hinders everyone. The fact that people can’t see it, or automatically use it as a way of saying ‘well, you’re argument is good, but I don’t want to believe it, so here’s a list of privilege’:

http://i1276.photobucket.com/albums/y472/johnsalmonworld/IMG_2617_zps33b452aa.jpg

is stopping us from having a discussion about who does and doesn’t benefit from it. It’s simple; it exists, it exists for both genders.

I’m sure you could find a website that listed 18 examples of male privilege, and I’m sure I could fine 18 ways to refute it. It’s not a competition, equality between the sexes is not a competition. It’s not a competition to see who is oppressed and victimised more often than the other. It’s really not. Rather than saying ‘this list is misogynistic, you fucker’, why not just admit that it’s true, and then we can open a discussion about the instances where it may or may not be applicable.

The opening headline of the first link contains the line ‘18-things-females-seem-to-not-understand’, I think that’s completely fair. Ironically, the responses that counter the list by saying ‘No, I don’t think so because——‘ are perfectly demonstrating why the headline has a ring of truth to it. By refusing to believe something about privilege you are, without realising it, ‘blinded’ by that privilege, to the point that you become hypocritical.

The opening headline of the rebuttal states ‘18-reasons-why-the-concept-of-female-privilege-is-insane’. It’s not insane at all, again just by claiming it as insane is to show that you are blinded by your own privilege, it shows you are allowing yourself to believe feminist rhetoric and envelop yourself in victimhood, whether you identify as a feminist or not. Privilege affects everybody, male and female.

I’m absolutely positive that there are times I’ve benefitted from my male privilege without even realising it. By the same token, I’m damn sure that I’ve seen females benefit from female privilege without them even realising it.

The concept of privilege is not one way, it does not automatically grant all men with some amazing kind of societal power while at the same time oppressing all women. It’s something that is very real. I don’t want to get into the deeper specifics of race and colour, this blog isn’t about that, it’s simply about the fact that privilege is not the domain of the man, it’s the domain of humans.

The sooner we accept that we are all guilty of benefitting from privilege, and stop trying to frame it as specifically a gender issue, the sooner we can start exploring how and why it affects us in different ways and, hopefully, we can remove the sense of victimhood that feminism seems to enshroud all women with.

Privilege; who has it and who doesn’t? We all do, in some way.

Have a nice day, folks.

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Comments
  1. […] The concept of privilege: who has it, who doesn’t and ‘what’s this got to do with feminis… April 13, 2014 […]

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