If you’ve been following my series A Guy’s Guide to Feminism so far, you will have realized by now that feminism isn’t just about women, and you’ll have a good idea of how to talk to women about feminism as well.
Today, let’s look a little more at the privileges men don’t realize they have — something that is bound to come up when discussing feminism with anyone.
But first things first.
Try to be open-minded with this one.
My goal isn’t to rip you to shreds and tell you to shut up because you don’t know what it’s like to be a woman.
I know you’re here because you want to learn.
I just want you to be able to recognize the privileges you do have — even if the downside to some of them is the gendered expectation they come with. Because you must realize you have them in order to talk about equality.
Still with me?
Let’s get started.
We’ve already talked about the fact that society’s gender roles harm men as well as women.
However, it’s still true that women are seen as less than men by society as a whole.
In fact, most of the time, when men are insulted or treated differently it’s because they are being “girly.”
So still, despite all of the disadvantages men have thanks to the patriarchy, they have a lot of advantages from it as well.
And in order to break down the system that hurts us all, you need to be able to identify sexism and gender roles — sexism against men and women.
So since we’ve already looked at some of the sexism that men experience, let’s look at a few of the privileges that men don’t realize they have.
1. You can walk home at night and not have to automatically fear being attacked based on what you are wearing.
Sure, both women and men might fear attack if they’re walking alone in a not-so-safe area of town.
But men aren’t attacked and told it is their fault just because they were wearing a pair of shorts or a tank top revealing their shoulders and arms.
What they are wearing is irrelevant — as it should be.
You are lucky to have that privilege. Women are fighting for it.
2. You will not be paid less because of your sex.
You might be paid less for fewer qualifications, or because your boss is evil, but it won’t be because you are a guy, plain and simple.
Unfortunately, it is that plain and simple for women.
3. You can travel the world alone and not fear for your safety.
You don’t have to worry the same way women do, and people won’t worry about you either.
They already trust that you can take care of yourself.
Because around the world, men are pretty much universally respected just for being men.
4. Your opinion matters.
Your voice is heard and you are represented in government, in most work environments, and in society in general.
You didn’t even have to try.
5. If you have sex with many partners, nobody tells you that you are “not respecting your body.”
In fact, you are likely commended for it.
Sure, some might stay away from you or say that you tend to get around, but you don’t suffer from backlash that says you are worthless.
6. You are not a failure if you don’t have children.
You might even be praised for focusing on your career instead.
You may be unfairly judged if you choose to focus on children instead of your career — this is true.
But rarely do people tell you that your “biological clock” is ticking. Few people expect you to have children simply because you’re a guy.
Because that’s a woman’s job. Women are failures if they don’t have kids.
This is why we still need feminism.
People say that once we got the right to vote, we got the same rights that men have. We should stop complaining now.
Legally, that might be the case. On paper, sure.
But there are so many ways that society still tells women, and basically anyone of any gender that isn’t “male,” that they are worth less than men.
Because even though we do have some advantages, there are still many more privileges men don’t realize they have.
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Now, don’t feel guilty.
My goal here was not to make you feel guilty or to attack you for all the privilege you might have as a guy.
All individuals have some privileges and don’t have others, and we didn’t do much to earn or deny ourselves any of it. In the post How Feminism Helps Men, Too, we already looked at a whole bunch of privileges men don’t have.
So there is no sense in feeling guilty.
We just also need to look at what privileges we do have, because privilege is relative.
And we won’t be able to fight for equality if we don’t know what we have and don’t have.
But now that we do, we can.
What other privileges do you think men have? Are there any more privileges men don’t realize they have?
Ready for ways that you can help fight gender inequality, beyond just talking to women about it? Make sure you check out the last post in this series which is full of ways you can support feminism as a guy!
Want more still? Check out these awesome feminist books about guys! And while you’re at it, subscribe to the Flight & Scarlet newsletter to get awesome FREE resources about feminism!