[Proof] of White Male Privilege – 12 Examples of Male Privilege
Throughout the years, men – white men in particular – have enjoyed many advantages. They’ve mostly been the ones in power, the ones making decisions. It’s often hard to admit you have these privileges.
After all, everyone wants to believe that their successes are a result of working hard and making good choices, and there are plenty of things that suck about being a man (like being expected to pay for dates or not show your emotions). However, a smart person is able to look at the greater picture and see how cultural beliefs influence reality.
While things are definitely getting better when it comes to the war of the sexes, there’s still work to be done. Take a look at some of the ways that you probably benefit from being a man.
The Role Model Factor
Kids need good role models as they strive to make their path in life. It’s especially exciting when your role model is someone like you. This helps you to envision what your life might look like if you were to grow up to be that person. Before Barack Obama, all of the presidents of the United States were white men. Other leaders – CEOs of major companies, leading scientists, and even the principal of the school – are also often men.
Young white boys are able to look at a variety of TV shows, movies, and other forms of entertainment and see people who look like them. This may not seem like such an important factor to you, but when young girls or non-white kids see characters who look like them doing great things, they feel more inspired.
The Career Factor
Many employers have a conscious or unconscious bias toward men. For instance, The American Association of University Women talks about a study by Yale University that showed that scientists were more likely to rate a resume higher when it was labeled as “John’s” resume rather than “Jennifer’s” – even though everything else was exactly the same.
Once hired, people tend to view the man as more competent for a variety of reasons (most of which come back to the way men and women are socialized to behave). This makes it easier for men to build a professional network and get promoted.
The Salary Factor
Men also tend to earn more money than women. The oft-quote figure, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, is that women tend to earn about 79 cents for every dollar that a man earns. Of course, this discrepancy isn’t as great in minimum wage or service-type jobs, but it’s definitely prevalent in the white-collar world. It’s not uncommon for a woman to discover that a male co-worker with less responsibility is earning more than her.
The reasons for this difference in wages are plentiful – men are more likely to negotiate higher starting salaries, employers don’t value women as much because they worry about losing her to pregnancy, and employers giving a bit of an extra raise to a male employee “because he’s raising a family that counts on him” are just a few of those reasons. However, none of those reasons is fair.
The “Being Heard” Factor
Whether it’s in an office meeting or just a group of friend trying to decide what to do, many women are familiar with “bropropriating.” This is the phenomena where an idea doesn’t seem attractive until it’s a man who says it. Once it catches some ground, he can then take ownership of the idea. This isn’t always an intentional thing.
Guys aren’t necessarily waiting to pick up a woman’s idea and take credit for it. However, that’s little consolation to the woman who’s idea was stolen.
The Interruption Factor
In a similar vein, women are interrupted far more frequently than their male counterparts. It’s as though the man feels that what he has to say is far more important.
Louder male voices often drown out the quieter voices of women, and since women are socialized to not interrupt, it’s hard to stand up for yourself when this happens.
The Sex Factor
Sex is complicated – but it’s not quite as complicated for a guy as it is for a woman. It’s considered normal for guys to want sex, and few people see it as a bad thing when a guy has had multiple sexual partners. He’s a stud. When a guy prefers to wait to have sex – whether it’s until marriage or just until the relationship has become more developed – he’s lauded as an extremely upstanding guy.
Contrast this with the way women are treated when it comes to sex. Women who have sex with multiple partners are “sluts.” Those who want to wait are “frigid” or “cockteases.” It’s easy to see the bias here.
The Fear Factor
How many times have you worried about walking alone at night? Worried that your date would slip a drug into your drink to rape you? Worried that your partner might hit you during a disagreement or simply because her favorite sports team lost?
For most men, these fears seem silly. It’s not something you face on a daily basis. However, these are very real fears for most women. We’ve been taught from an early age that almost any man could be a predator to fear.
The Accountability Factor
When you make a mistake at the office or driving your car, it’s often seen as your own shortcoming. Maybe you didn’t plan your time well or you just weren’t paying attention to the road. This is the way life should be, but it’s not the same experience for most women and non-white men.
For instance, if one woman chose to quit her job after taking maternity leave, the boss might be more reluctant to hire any other woman. In contrast, if that same boss lost a male employee because he wanted to be a stay-at-home dad, it’s not likely that the boss would worry about hiring another man, even if that man had a family. If someone has a bad experience with a woman, it often seems to reflect back on all women.
The Image Factor
Women have to fight a constant battle when it comes to their looks. There’s extreme pressure to not be overweight. There’s pressure to wear makeup and always dress nicely to “look your best.”
Heck, strangers even feel like they are entitled to tell a woman to “smile” when she may be simply lost in thought as she walks down the street. While there’s still some pressure for men to look a certain way, there are far more variations in what a “sexy man” can look like.
The Family Factor
When it comes to raising a family, men are often in the better position as well. Sure, there might be some pressure to be the breadwinner, but even if your partner works, there’s a good chance that she takes on a lot of the responsibility for the children and household chores.
Men might be taking on more of these types of tasks than their fathers and grandfathers took on, but it’s still not always equal, according to the Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture.
The Trust Factor
As a man, most people will listen to and believe in your side of a story. If you’ve been wronged somehow, the listener is likely to support you and feel empathy toward your situation. This isn’t always the case for women, who are often pressured to take some of the blame, even though they might be the victim.
Someone who’s been physically abused by her husband might be asked what she did to deserve the beating. A woman who was raped will be asked what she was wearing and whether she had agreed to sex at some point in her life. Men don’t deal with this doubt and blame.
The Language Factor
Another subtle privilege that men experience is the way that language is built to include them. The Declaration of Independence states that “All men are created equal.” The Bible says that God “made man in His own image.” There are also everyday terms that include men, such as fireman, policeman, and congressman. In many cases, “man” is considered a gender-neutral term that includes both men and women, as you see in “mankind.”
While things are changing – it’s more common to hear firefighter and police officer these days – it’s a difference that matters to half the world.
Don’t think that these things happen frequently? Start talking to your female friends and family members and you’ll start hearing a number of stories about the ways they’ve been treated differently because of their gender. Start paying attention at the office. It’s one of those things where once you know it’s happening, you can’t help but noticing it again and again.
When I point out these privileges, I’m not trying to attack you. Benefiting from privilege doesn’t make you a bad person, and I know that these aren’t things that you were trying to make happen. But it’s a simple truth that these factors all play a role in the lives of the women you care about. When you open your eyes to the issue, you can become an ally rather than a foe.