With privilege comes responsibility
I found this on another blog. The author has granted permission for it to be used by anyone provided the reference to Peggy McIntosh, who apparently inspired it, remains. In 1990, Wellesley College professor Peggy McIntosh wrote an essay called “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”. Her work was about White privilege. I haven’t read it, though since I now have a link, I might check it out. While some of this “male privilege” may be true, I have annotated (in bold) parts I think are untrue, exaggerations, misrepresentations, or lies.
While I am not re-publishing it here, here is a link to a corresponding Female Privilege Checklist.
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. Once upon a time, this was true. Not anymore. Affirmative action and the desire to avoid lawsuits has deemed this irrelevent.
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). This is because it will be apparent that I did not obtain my job through affirmative action or some type of positive discrimination program based on quotas.
3. If I am never promoted, it’s not because of my sex. Untrue. If I am promoted it will be because I earned it, although I may be passed over for promotion due to my sex due to affirmative action or quotas.
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. True, but I will be seen as a loser and will have no historical “patriarchal oppression” that I can blame for my failure.
5. I am far less likely to face sexual harassment at work than my female co-workers are. (More). But not because I am less likely to be subjected to sexually suggestive behavior. Its that I am less likely to find such behavior offensive or unwanted. But I am far more likely to be wrongly accused than my female coworkers and I must be guarded in everything I say and do, living in constant fear of such an allegation.
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. These “people” will be both male and female showing that women are just as biased against women as men.
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). But my odds of being arrested and imprisoned due to false allegations are probably just as great as a woman’s odds of being a real rape victim. I will have to adjust my lifestyle and habits at work and in public to protect myself from such allegations.
8. On average, I am taught to fear walking alone after dark in average public spaces much less than my female counterparts are. This is hardly a privilege since I am four times as likely to be a victim of a violent crime. Someone needs to teach me to be more cautious and afraid.
9. If I choose not to have children, my masculinity will not be called into question. Actually it will. I am expected to marry and have children. A man’s virility is often measured by the number of children he produces. A childless man is often seen as somewhat less than a real man as a “family man” is held in much higher esteem than one who is not.
10. If I have children but do not provide primary care for them, my masculinity will not be called into question. This is because society views fathers as being irrelevent and unnecessary. The entire Family Law system is set up to deprive fathers of their children by defining fathers as nothing more than walking wallets by routinely refusing to enforce visitation orders while imprisoning men who cannot pay child support.
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). But my masculinity will be questioned if I stay home to provide that care while my wife works. In fact her relatives will likely view me as a deadbeat and encourage her to leave me.
12. If I have children and a career, no one will think I’m selfish for not staying at home. But I will be considered a deadbeat if I fail to meet my financial obligation to support my child whether that child lives with me or not.
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. Once again this is because the press considers fathers irrelevent to the lives of their children.
14. My elected representatives are mostly people of my own sex. The more prestigious and powerful the elected position, the more this is true. Despite the fact that women comprise well over half of the voting population and could elect women to every office in every election should they so desire. Further, if my elected officials decide to go to war, I am the one who will be ordered to risk life and limb to defend my country. It is men who can be drafted and are required to register with the selective service. It is men who may be denied an education, certain types of loans, and government employment, or sent to prison if we refuse to register.
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. This might have been true at one time, but in today’s workforce, only the positions at the very top remain male dominated in the majority of professions. Women now comprise the majority of “middle-management” of most Fortune 500 companies and are frequently “the person in charge.”
16. As a child, chances are I was encouraged to be more active and outgoing than my sisters. (More). I was also ridiculed if I wasn’t good at sports or especially if I was beaten by a girl at anything.
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. Now my children watch shows containing negative male stereotypes of boys who get into trouble, hate school, and are victimized by violence from girls who go unpunished. Boys on television are frequently relegated to being laughable and weak. Fathers are incompetent boobs or abusive and neglectful.
18. As a child, chances are I got more teacher attention than girls who raised their hands just as often. (More). Now teachers ignore my male children or send them to the office because the have trouble sitting still and girls are more likely to get better grades, graduate from high school, and go on to college.
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. This is because I am not permitted to view myself as a victim. Instead I am required to take responsibility for my own successes and failures.
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, every day, without exception. I will see that the vast majority of “bad” or “evil” characters are male. I will see fathers/husbands portrayed as incompetent boobs, drunks, and abusers. I will see boys protrayed as borderline delinquents who perform poorly in school or are ridiculed and bullied as nerds and geeks. I will watch the men portrayed as successful cheat on their wives, and neglect their children, and abuse their power.
21. If I’m careless with my financial affairs it won’t be attributed to my sex. However, because men are “supposed” to be good at handling finances, If I am not, my manhood may be questioned.
22. If I’m careless with my driving it won’t be attributed to my sex. But I will pay through the nose for auto insurance because I am deemed a higher risk than a woman and therefore a poorer driver and this will not be considred sexist.
23. I can speak in public to a large group without putting my sex on trial. Unless, of course I say something that some woman somewhere might find offensive regardless of whether or not it might be true. Then I will be vilified and possibly pressured to resign my position or fired.
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). Instead, I may be labeled a “womanizer” and have pop songs written to denigrate me.
25. I do not have to worry about the message my wardrobe sends about my sexual availability or my gender conformity. (More). Even though I will be ridiculed for wearing certain colors, certain types of jewelry, or clothing that makes makes me look “effeminate.”
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). However, I will own decidedly fewer clothes than most women and will be expected to wear the same clothing more than once. I will have less variety and fewer colors to choose from. My clothing will be designed not to attract attention so that my female partner can be the center of attention.
27. The grooming regimen expected of me is relatively cheap and consumes little time. (More). This is mostly because women aren’t as picky about a man’s looks as they are his wallet. Nevermind that I don’t have the options available to me that women have to them for personal grooming.
28. If I buy a new car, chances are I’ll be offered a better price than a woman buying the same car. (More). This might just be due to my ability to negotiate a better deal because I have a deeper interest in automobiles that enables me to know their value.
29. If I’m not conventionally attractive, the disadvantages are relatively small and easy to ignore. However, the advantages of being attractive are also small and easy to ignore. I will not be able to find women who will buy drinks for me, or offer me employment or promotions or other benefits as easily as attractive women find men to do this for them.
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. But if I am loud or aggressive, I am viewed as “obnoxious” and potentially abusive or violent.
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.) While I may ask for legal protection, I won’t receive any. There is no “Violence Against Men Act” nor are there any special programs for male victims of violence. In fact, if I request protection from violence committed by a woman, I will be subject to ridicule and may end up being blamed for the violence and arrested.
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. Therefore I lose my unique identity as a male since all the plural pronouns in the language are masculine and include the feminine, while women have their own “special” pronouns to distinguish them from the masculine indicating their higher value to society.
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. I will also be unable to use that time of the month as a convenient excuse to commit obnoxious behavior while expecting to be given a free pass and lots of sympathy and understanding no matter how rude I might be.
34. I will never be expected to change my name upon marriage or questioned if I don’t change my name. But my manhood will be questioned if my wife doesn’t change her name or uses a hyphen.
35. The decision to hire me will never be based on assumptions about whether or not I might choose to have a family sometime soon. But I will be expected to work longer hours and take less time off to deal with family matters. The result is that I must spend more time at work and less with my family, although I will likely learn to have a greater appreciation of the time I do get to spend with my family.
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. Yet this God is often depicted as angry, vengeful, and destructive which may contribute to the negative stereotype of males as being violent and abusive.
37. Most major religions argue that I should be the head of my household, while my wife and children should be subservient to me. While at the same time commanding me to “love, honor, and cherish” her so as not to abuse that authority. I will also be expected to risk or sacrifice my own life in the event of a disaster so that a woman (even one who is not my wife) may live.
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). Chances are that if one of us decides to stay home and not work, it will be her and that if we both work, I will work longer hours and perform harder labor with more risk to my own personal well-being. The excess time I spend at work will more than offset the difference in time spent doing housework. Further, the tasks I am expected to perform will be the heavier, more physically demanding tasks with more risk to my physical well-being.
39. If I have children with a wife or girlfriend, chances are she’ll do most of the childrearing, and in particular the most dirty, repetitive and unrewarding parts of childrearing. Chances are that she will insist that parenting be done her way and that she will criticize, marginalize, and trivialize my attempts until I decide it is better to just let her do it. Any contribution I make will be undervalued and unappreciated.
40. If I have children with a 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. Chances are that if she decides to leave the marriage she will be granted custody, and child support payments, and alimony, and I will be relegated to the role of “visitor” and not even that if she decides I should not be permitted to see the children. Therefore if I make career sacrifices, I will be much worse off when the marriage ends while she will still have her career, the kids, and be entitled to support from me.
41. 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. This is because the images of men that are depicted are intended to promote negative stereotypes that portray men as abusive and sexually aggressive monsters.
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). But I will actually suffer more physical and health related problems, die several years earlier, and have less money spent on research for my specific health care problems.
43. If I am heterosexual, it’s incredibly unlikely that I’ll ever be beaten up by a spouse or lover. (More). While I may be more likely to injure my female partner, it is just as likely that I will be assaulted by her as she is to be assaulted by me. I am also more likely to show restraint if she initiates the violence although I am more likely to be blamed and arrested for her violence even when I’ve committed none. She is far more likely to be excused for her violence against me and I am far less likely to be offered any services or protection from her.
45. On average, I am not interrupted by women as often as women are interrupted by men. On average I am less verbally inclined so there is less opportunity to be interrupted, but when I have something to say, I typically need to interrupt a woman to be able to say it.
46. I have the privilege of being unaware of my male privilege. I also have the privilege of being able to demonstrate that much of what is called male privilege is a double-edged sword whose other edge is disadvantage.
I do have one addition to the list that Barry has omitted. I also have a response.
47. I will never have to decide whether or not to have an abortion. This decision will be made for me as will the decision about nearly all of my reproductive rights. I do not have the right to know whether or not I have become a father unless the mother informs me. If I am married and my wife becomes pregnant, the child is automatically mine. I have few legitimate or appealing options for birth control. While a mother may decide to terminate a pregnancy or surrender a child for adoption, I have no right to have any input into her decisions, and no right to custody should she decide to keep the child, but I do have a financial obligation to pay for her decision.
(Compiled by Barry Deutsch, aka “Ampersand.” Permission is granted to reproduce this list in any way, for any purpose, so long as the acknowledgment of Peggy McIntosh’s work is not removed. If possible, I’d appreciate it if folks who use it would tell me how they used it; my email is barry-at-amptoons-dot-com.)
(This is a continually updated document; the most current version of The Male Privilege Checklist can always be found at amptoons.com/blog/the-male-privilege-che… . To see posts discussing the Male Privilege Checklist and various items on it, please visit this archive page).
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