If you hang around feminists for more than fifteen minutes, the term "male privilege" will come up. Essentially, this is the term feminists use to collectively describe the ways in which life is easier for men and/or harder for women.
One interesting characteristic of male privilege is that it's largely invisible to men. It's like an iceberg. We men, from our privileged terrestrial positions, can only see the tip of the iceberg, but women, forced to live in the icy depths of the Arctic Ocean by their male oppressors, can see the whole thing. Also, while feminist men can't see it directly, they can infer its presence. Feminism is kind of like sonar that way.
Anyway, some time back Ampersand nailed the a list of 46 aspects of Male Privilege to the door of the Patriarchy headquarters. We were out
touring the world's strip clubs and golf courses on official business at the time, so we're just now getting around to responding. Ballgame over at the Feminist Critics Blog is on it with a Female Privilege Checklist. You'll note that his list is only half as long as Ampersand's, but we're still going to give him twice the recognition. Great job, Ballgame. Have another link.
I have some more items to add to the list:
- If I marry, there is a very good chance that I will be given the option to quit my job and live off my husband’s* income without having my femininity questioned.
- If I become pregnant, I and I alone choose whether to terminate the pregnancy or have the baby. As a result, I can be reasonably certain that I will never be held financially responsible for a child I didn’t want to have, and that I will never have my unborn child aborted without my consent.
- Many employers, including the government, have policies specifically designed to privilege me over male candidates.
- If my husband is unfaithful to me or abuses me, I will receive sympathy unmixed with derision.
- I am significantly more likely to graduate from college than I would be if I were a man.
- Moderately impaired social skills are not a serious impediment to my ability to achieve romantic and sexual fulfillment.
- Although I am every bit as likely as a man to allow my sex drive to compromise my judgment, I will never be accused of thinking with my clitoris.
- I can expect to pay a significantly lower premium for car insurance than a man with a similar driving record would.
- If I commit a crime, I will likely be treated much more leniently in a court of law than would a man who had committed the same crime.
- Men are expected to buy me drinks, meals, flowers, and jewelry in exchange for a chance to spend time with me.
- Because I am not expected to be my family’s primary breadwinner, I have the luxury of prioritizing factors other than salary when choosing a career path.
- I have the privilege of being unaware of my female privilege.
While I can't speak for Ballgame, I do not intend, in contributing to this list, to advance the idea that men are being oppressed by the Matriarchy. I certainly don't feel oppressed**. What I'm trying to do is refute the notion that either sex is privileged over the other.
Of course, I don't deny that there are certain privileges given to men that are not given to women. What I reject is the concept of Male Privilege: The idea that men are unambigously privileged over women. In reality, women have their own privileges, and very often privilege and obligation go hand in hand. For example, Ampersand cites as an example of male privilege this: "If I have children and a career, no one will think I’m selfish for not staying at home." But the flip side of this is that a man faces much stronger social pressure to be his family's primary breadwinner. Certainly working mothers far outnumber stay-at-home fathers.
Which sex has the better package of privileges and obligations is largely a matter of personal preference. Yes, most feminists think men have it better, but that's because modern feminism, having little left to offer a woman who relishes her role as a full-time wife and mother, disproportionately attracts women who think they're getting a raw deal. This may also explain why lesbians tend to be overrepresented among feminists--denied male privileges and unable to take advantage of those female privileges tied to heterosexuality, they really do get a raw deal.
*Yes, several of these items are shamelessly heteronormative. Because that's how we patriarchs roll.
**I note this because a common feminist tactic is to cast any attempt to point out female privileges as whining by men afraid of feminism's challenge to their own privilege. Of course, talking about Male Privilege is speaking truth to power, not whining.