So.. going to take a moment to discuss the idea of male privilege. I realise that it is amongst many terms that are floating around our general consciousness at the moment.
But it is one that is to digress, misunderstand and to an extent is dismissed. But what is it and why am I among others, concerned with it.
Well, just now I watched a show where a man sued a women (unsuccessfully) for various reasons, and stated that he had a sexual relationship. He was referred to as a ‘sugar daddy’. He went on to say that while she was in his employ, he would ask to touch her and she would reply with ‘$60, $100’ etc for him to do so.
That, that is male privilege. I have persona experience, the worst was being approached by someone near a mosque that my employers went during office hours, and I had assumed he had attended. I was on my way to work and he stopped me to ask about my boobs. At 8am on a weekday morning. I was a little taken aback. He asked what size they were and if he could touch them. I initially thought he was joking, and he then offered to pay me, upping the amount before I could finally extract myself from the situation that was rapidly escalating while I was also concerned that my employers would see this. I will admit, a small part of me wanted to take the money and think, fuck it.
This, this is what it is all about. Women are blamed in this transaction for allowing a man to touch them. Sorry, no, they are blamed for taking money. They are blamed for creating a situation where men can offer them money. And you know what, I can see why a woman would do it, it is easy money and while it is a quick boob cup, it is fairly harmless. But it is women are blamed for creating an environment where men pay them to touch their assets. Men are not blamed for assuming that it is okay to ask to touch a women inappropriately, and indeed, when asking does not get the answer they wanted, offering money. Or goods, or services.
Of course, as with anything else, when someone suggests such a thing as Male Privilege even exists, the defensive back lash starts. Things like women being accused of being controlling or privileged for not wanting to have sex with this partner, but suggesting they have a headache. The counter argument is that a women cannot simply say no, she doesn’t fancy it, or she is tired, no, the only way out is to say she is ill. A simple no is not enough. Why not? Because Male Privilege dictates that a woman shouldn’t or couldn’t possibly have any reason to deny her partner. The Alpha Male, the head of the house.
Rape – rape is the escalation of Male privilege, where if a man is denied sex through normal means – dating, buying, or being emasculated, angry and wanting to exact revenge. It can be on a partner, a friend, a stranger. It can be premeditated or spur of the moment. I won’t quote statistics as we all know that they are an unreliable source of information. Instead I will just go through things that I have come accross over the years, one example that keeps coming back to me, and I believe is not isolated, is a judge in Italy throwing out a rape case because the woman was wearing tight fitting jeans. He ruled that it would have been to difficult for the perpetrator to have removed the jeans without her help, and therefore she must have been agreeable.
Lets look at the stereotype of the rape victim, that it is a girl dressed provocatively, who is suggesting by her attire that she wishes to have sex, and drinks excessively so therefore isn’t able to control herself or be responsible for her actions. It is certainly the excuse used in the Stanford Rape case that made headlines earlier this year. One thing that you will find when searching for this rape case, is unlike a lot of other cases, it is the male perpetrator and not the victim that is named. Brock Turner made headlines for the leniency of the sentence he received. There was certainly a split in the reporting, Male Privilege abound as there was sympathy for him, for his loss of scholarship at Stanford University and that he would no longer be going to the Olympics. That he should be given special consideration because he was the fastest swimmer.
He blames the culture and environment at the University for his actions, that he was merely the product of an environment of drinking, peer pressure, and promiscuity. That, in fact, he isn’t at fault here, it was bound to happen, because everyone was doing it. How was he to know that by jumping at a woman at random she hadn’t also read the memo and was not a more than willing partner. Of course this is not what happened, he blames a culture or drinking and loose morals. But what he did was not talk to a girl at a party and invite her back to look at his etchings (I blame my mother for that turn of phrase) but he either followed her, or happened on her outside, and forced himself on her by a dumpster. And when he was found by passers by, ran off.
This case is prominent for many reasons, the victim has chosen to remain anonymous – and this is her reasoning ‘That’s the beauty of it. I don’t need labels, categories, to prove I am worthy of respect, to prove that I should be listened to’ – what she means is that we are going to treat her as a victim of a crime, we are not going to go through her social media profiles, look at her face, we are not going to base reporting on what she looks like, how she dresses, what her skin colour is, what dress size she is. We are going to base our analysis of her purely on what she represents, a victim. It is a powerful statement. And one that is a direct juxtaposition to the treatment of the perpetrator of the crime.
So what is Male Privilege – a small part of it, but I hope it gives you an understanding of why it upsets people. And why it is something that needs to be changed. Women are not merely objects, they are not here to entertain men, they are able to enjoy sex, but equally are allowed to say no. Women are allowed to dress how they please, woman should be able to wear as little or as much as they want. They should be able to drink as much or as little as they wish and not worry about falling victim to a crime. Although interestingly – it is more often that women are attacked outside the environment we imagine – they are walking home from work, out jogging, open the door to a stranger. Male privilege is the idea that a man expects to be able to touch a women. That a women is a trophy to be bought with gifts or money. That women are the cause of this, women started this. That a women created the environment where they expect financial reward for men being in their company, touching them, taking things further. I would change the conversation to suggest that men assume that given enough money, they can have and or do as they please. That money is the answer, that women are just another product or service that can be paid for. Which to me, makes it feel that women are not equal in their eyes. That women are just something else to be bought.