Female privilege

female privilegeI realize that some readers may laugh at the concept of women being able to have privilege given that systems of oppression governed by male privilege has spent millennia holding the woman down. However, the concept of systems of oppression is in itself a questionable thesis. There is no doubt that social systems such as legislation can act as a tool of oppression, for instance in the case of the Nuremberg Laws or Jim Crow laws, however the argument that systems act in an oppressive manner if they are not designed by a diversity of skin color or sex is inherently flawed.

The reasoning behind this statement is that the goal of a law within the Western legal system, be it based on common law or Civil law, is to remove such influences from the law itself, in effect rendering it neutral in terms of gender, race, religion or other characteristics. This is why Lady Justice is often depicted as wearing a blindfold.

The argument for these characteristics having a stronger influence on legislation is therefore, an argument that the law should discriminate based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or any other chosen characteristic. This was an element of the law until quite recently, and is a feature of among others feudalism. To give an example, the law in France used to apply in one way to the citizenry and one way to the Aristocracy.

What is privilege?

Some examples I’ve gleamed from reading around is that “straight white male, CIS privilege” manifests in an individuals interactions with societal systems such as government, private industry, interpersonal non-work groups and so on. For instance, the fact that white people use just as many drugs as black people [1] , but black people are more prone to go to jail [2] may be a symptom of “White privilege“, according to this logic.

Not satisfied with this, I found a list of 30 signs of male privilege [3], now I’m not going to quote them all just a few:

5. If you are never promoted, it isn’t because of your sex

8. A decision to hire you won’t be based on whether or not the employer assumes you will be having children in the near future

These fall into a category I’ve themed “Opportunity“, that because of your gender, or race or class, you will not be denied opportunity to achieve what you set your mind to, these are things that are legislated against in various laws, under the umbrella of equal opportunity legislation.

16. Balance a career and a family without being called selfish for not staying at home (or being constantly pressured to stay at home)

25. If you don’t spend much time on your appearance, you won’t have to worry about about being criticized at work or in social situations

These fall into the category of “Freedom from judgment based on choice/action“, in that they are not objective in terms of cause and effect. For instance, in the case of 25, the criticism could be because you are a female that does not spend much time on her appearance, but it could also be because you have a peer group that is excessively focused on appearance.

So, from that data, we can boil down privilege to 2 categories:

  1. Benefits in terms of opportunity.
  2. Benefits in terms of freedom from judgment/consequences from action.

This conclusion is supported by additional research and sources for male and white privilege [4] [5][6] While the research is nowhere near what I would conduct for a proper literature review for research that has to stand up to peer review it is sufficient for a blog.

So lets explore these two types of privilege in order.

Benefits in terms of opportunity

The argument here is that males (especially straight, white males) garner a benefit as a result of being male. This is somewhat embodied in the following quote [4]

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.

According to a recent study, this is no longer true in STEM fields, where women are now twice as likely to be hired as equally qualified males. [7] A recent Guardian article found that women are more likely to be hired right out of University [8] than males.

If we break down the argument made in the male privilege section on opportunity and the concept of systems (which feminists love) then it follows that if a system is granting men more than their fair share of opportunity, then this should be across the board, it should not be situational. What do I mean by this? A system cannot be unsystematic, if it grants men benefits, then it should do so in every case, not in selected cases.

Words like “institutionalized” and “Systemic” at their root imply that it will be everywhere. If there is an institutionalized system that discriminates against women, then it should be omnipresent. Therefore, women should not have any advantages in opportunity, which the studies do in fact show they have. Now this is only the U.S. when we take a look at Europe where quotas are being implemented at light speed [9] this further adds to an advantage of opportunity and here is why. If there are 100 board seats to fill, and you know that 30 are earmarked for women, then it follows that the other 70 can be filled with men, women, or a mix of the two. So in theory, having all 100 of them being women is fine.

Secondly, education. The bastion of conservative and libertarian politics and theories. Women are earning more degrees than men in the US [10] and in Europe [10]. I also found that several European countries and the US are using affirmative action or similar programs with the end result being that less qualified females beat out their better qualified male counterparts. [12][13] If anything this is causing unequal opportunity created from a misconception that women are covertly oppressed, so one must seek to counteract this overtly.

Benefits in terms of freedom from judgment/consequences from action.

The argument here is that males in general, and straight, white, CIS males in particular gain a benefit in that they are judged less, are held less accountable for their actions and protected from the effects of those actions to a degree larger than other people.

This is somewhat embodied in the quotes:

Walk alone at night without the fear of being raped or otherwise harmed” [3]
 Which is blatantly untrue. If the writer had done his research, he would have ended the sentence with raped, and been right. Now he just looks silly when confronted with statistics from the Bureau of Justice [14] that shows that men overwhelmingly are the victims of crime and thus have even more of a reason to be fearful of walking alone at night. Men overwhelmingly are the victims of violent crime, including assault
If you choose to have children, you will praised for caring for your children, instead of being expected to be the full-time caretaker
This is assuming you even get that choice. As I’ve written about before, female reproductive rights are much better than rights for men, to the point where a woman can commit statutory rape and still get child support.
So, are men held less accountable for their actions than women in the western world? In what area?
If we look at conviction for crimes, men suffer harsher sentences for the same crime [15]. Is this what we would expect in what is supposedly a culture filled with systemic and institutionalized anti-woman sentiments and that according to feminists is a rape culture?
The value put on a person
I’ve dealt with the two former points, but as I was writing the part on freedom from consequences/judgment, I started to think of another aspect that had to be covered. A society that treats men better, I.E. a society with institutionalized sexism and misogyny, would it not follow that such a society would value men at a higher rate?
After all, we take better care of things we value, invest more in them and generally seek to maintain them do we not? This brought an interesting angle from an economic perspective. As more women than men are graduating college, it follows that more is being invested into their education assuming gender parity in intelligence.
If we assume that our society would seek to keep the more valued gender for longer, then the striking “death gap” [16] or as they call it “health gap” or “life expectancy gap” brings more questions than it answers. [17]
How about workplace deaths or the fact that men overwhelmingly are expected to put their life on the line to defend nations under attack? [18]

Conclusions

This has been a somewhat depressing post to write. There is a lot of tragedy in the numbers that I’ve quoted, but my conclusion isn’t where I wanted it to be, because there are two options:

  1. There is no patriarchy, in fact the western world consistently put benefits and entitlements for women into legislation, and work to make women have more opportunities for their level of ability and less consequences for their poor actions.
  2. There is a patriarchy but it is an extremely incompetent and stupid patriarchy that in its quest to oppress women, kill off men, punish men harder, somehow make men die sooner, and get less invested in them.

Sources:

[1] http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/quicktables/quickconfig.do?34481-0001_all

[2] http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/p12ac.pdf

[3] http://itspronouncedmetrosexual.com/2012/11/30-examples-of-male-privilege/

[4] http://www.as.utexas.edu/~cmcasey/diversity/male_privilege.pdf

[5] http://ted.coe.wayne.edu/ele3600/mcintosh.html

[6] http://maleprivilege.tumblr.com/

[7] http://www.pnas.org/content/112/17/5360.abstract

[8] http://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/jul/23/women-graduates-find-more-jobs-while-men-win-higher-pay

[9] http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2014/03/economist-explains-14

[10]http://www.statista.com/statistics/185157/number-of-bachelor-degrees-by-gender-since-1950/

[11] http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Tertiary_education_statistics

[12] http://ideas.time.com/2013/06/17/affirmative-action-has-helped-white-women-more-than-anyone/

[13]http://chronicle.com/blogs/brainstorm/the-death-of-affirmative-action-part-i/44860

[14] http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cv14.pdf

[15] https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2144002

[16] http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/mars-vs-venus-the-gender-gap-in-health

[17] http://ocw.jhsph.edu/courses/socialbehavioralaspectspublichealth/pdfs/unit2gender.pdf

[18] http://www.avoiceformen.com/the-facts-about-men-and-boys/

[19]http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cv14.pdf

[20] https://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics/

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4 comments on “Female privilege

  1. Glad to see another sensible person writing about gender on WordPress. It’s a little imbalanced ’round these parts. 🙂

    Like

  2. Also, I just got done rabbling about the fear in the public sphere argument the other day, if you feel so inclined.

    http://rittensplayhouse.com/2016/03/10/a-room-full-of-rapists/

    Like

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