Yes, We Know Female Privilege Exists

But, men don’t seem to understand what that is either.

Photo by Soren Astrup Jorgenson via Unsplash

Last month, after going to a concert I wrote an article about one example of male privilege: things men do that most don’t think twice about. Like leave a drink unattended.

Men of the internet were lit up.

My comments section of that article became a very interesting place. A few men had some excellent points, made very eloquently. One reader brought up something I had never considered: any gender-based privilege goes right out the window in the gay community. Eyes. Opened.

Some of the comments were less impressive.

Many sounded like the asinine statement of “all lives matter” as a retort to Black Lives Matter. This behavior does nothing to further a person’s pursuit of seeming intelligent.

Many men were incredibly quick to point out all the ways in which they think female privilege exists. Here’s the irony: no one ever said it doesn’t exist. It surely does.

But two things need to be understood. 1) Building a defense that male privilege doesn’t exist can’t be done by pointing out other people’s privilege. 2) If you’re going to get irate at privileges that women have, at least get irate about something that is actually privilege.

Photo by Pavel Nekoranec via Unsplash

Most women have the ability recognize our privilege. We understand women are far less likely to get called to the carpet over an off color joke made to a male co-worker. An older lady making a sassy comment to a young man will not be seen as a threat. That is privilege.

We also know that crap has to go. We’re policing ourselves. We do this by understanding what it’s like to be in someone’s shoes and how they may feel victimized.

The examples men gave of female privilege blew my mind. Interestingly, many of the examples stem from women being marginalized for hundreds of years. They weren’t a compliment.

Men routinely cited that women are more likely to win in child custody hearings than men. I don’t disagree with that. At all. But let’s consider the root of this and why these decisions are made.

Women have been relegated to be the primary care provider for children in the household for decades. Betty Friedan, in The Feminine Mystique, provides undeniable evidence of how women were shamed and manipulated into their household role in the 50s. We were made to believe and told that our place was in the home.

Courts are making custody decisions based an archaic thought process about what a woman’s role is. Leftovers from women being seen as nothing more than diaper bag carriers. We don’t want this.

We’re fighting this hard. Women want equality. Period. There is no such thing as one group being more equal than the other. When we say equality, we mean men are equal too. When we say we want judges to rule without gender bias, we mean it even if it has negative effects in some cases.

This is not the only area where some male readers missed the mark.

Other things that are not female privilege:

Date rape

Yes, one reader actually said being raped was a privilege only afforded to pretty women. Like we should feel honored that men want to force themselves on us because it means we’re attractive. If we want to have sex, it’s easy. We just go out into public and hope someone rapes us. It doesn’t work this way.

Not having to sign up for the draft

Wrong again. The world is changing. We are fighting for our rights and we understand that in doing so, our world changes in many ways. We were the ones who fought for the right to fight in combat, remember? A federal judge ruled in February that women not being part of the draft is unconstitutional. And that was a solid decision on his part. And, guess what? Women support it.

Men picking up the tab for a drink

Nope. One reader even went so far as to say that he thought most men would be happy to trade their own safety (being more vulnerable to being roofied) in exchange for not having to buy a woman a drink. You don’t HAVE to buy a woman a drink. Men may choose to. We make our own money. We’ll buy our drinks, thanks.

Men work in dangerous fields

This is not a privilege of women. This is a byproduct of decades of sexism. Women were not encouraged to pursue jobs in areas like law enforcement. If they did, they were frequently bullied, sexually harassed, and ostracized. Boys are encouraged to pursue important and dangerous jobs. Girls, not so much. Don’t believe me? Ask women whether they were encouraged as little girls to be a nurse rather than a doctor?

Men are more likely to pay alimony

Really? That’s the best you can do? Much like the problem with courts siding with women in custody hearings, women are not to blame for alimony decisions. There is no shortage of men out there ready to call all women gold diggers that want to take a man to the cleaners in a divorce.

Regardless of whether men want to admit it, the wage gap exists. Men have benefited from higher earning potential for a very long time. Again, we are the ones fighting to level this playing field.

By virtue of fighting for equal pay and equal opportunity, we are decreasing the occurrences of women receiving alimony as a result of disparate pay.

Men, do women a favor. When we say something like, “Generally, when in public, I feel guarded and a low lying level of fear for my safety,” take us seriously. Why is it impossible for some men to acknowledge this feeling? Why must it be met with a response of, “Yeah, well, I don’t feel safe either.” Stop. We’re not trying to fight you. We want to be understood. This isn’t a one upping game.

There is no shame in admitting your privilege. There is also nothing wrong with wanting to keep it. Equality is not about removing someone else’s privilege. It’s about leveling a playing field whether it benefits you or not.

Men, you built the patriarchy. You can help us break it down. You should.


Fearless She Wrote

This is a space to empower differences, tell our stories, and share our lives together. We will not be silenced. We will be fearless. And we will write.

Vanessa Torre

Written by

Going through life like a flaming pinball. Nerd, music lover, horrible violin player. No, I won’t stop taking pictures of my drinks. vanessaltorre@gmail.com

Fearless She Wrote

This is a space to empower differences, tell our stories, and share our lives together. We will not be silenced. We will be fearless. And we will write.