Updated: Jul 12
The Reality and Consequences of Male Privilege
By: Kiara Pellicane-Hart
"Privilege is not knowing that you’re hurting others and not listening when they tell you." Dashanne Stokes
Male privilege is invisible and unearned, but instituted within the social structure of every patriarchal society. Odds are, the men in your life are widely unaware of the privileges and cultural norms that affect women differently simply because it is never mentioned. Take the movie Ex-Machina, in nearly every situation in the film men have overt power over the physical representations of women and since men are raised with such a concept, seeing it on-screen isn’t a surprise. If a woman watches it she sees a movie that is a representation of the doll-like qualities that are made to seem desirable and there are clear rape overtones to the entire movie. To a man, it is a cool sci-fi movie with a highly advanced android. The movie and message they see is different because of how society has shaped them to see themselves and women.
In products, like Nuetrogena, advertisements use different keywords for women and men. Women must “defend” themselves with shampoo, conditioner, and facial cleansers while men “protect” themselves with the same products. This kind of phrasing continues the idea that women must always be on the defensive in order to shield themselves and that men, as the “guardians” in a family unit, are there to protect. It is a subtle difference, but it can clearly be seen in other situations where women are turned down promotions because of double standards in the workplace or when women come forward with sexual assault charges and men have the political and social power to destroy their career and discredit their name while professing their innocence.
Men are not responsible for their automatic privileges, they are responsible for how they respond to and react to having those privileges without consequence. Everyone has an obligation to others to improve themselves and recognize when they receive opportunities or treatments because of unspoken privileges.
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