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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Gender Issues » Male Privilege

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Author Topic: Male Privilege
Member # 107250

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Over the last however many months, I've become a lot more comfortable with my identity as a guy, and have also been passing a lot more consistently in the streets and stuff. This is, pretty much 100%, wonderful, but it has led to some things that makes me uncomfortable; mostly, this can be summed up as male privilege, I think.

When I've passed as male, I am treated with so much more respect, I am not subject to the same demeaning terms of "endearment" from strangers (they call me "mate" or "sir", instead of "love" or "dear"), I don't get treated in such a delicate way, people believe I can actually look after myself, and people don't keep insisting on doing things for me, like going to the bar for me or carrying my stuff when I don't want them to. I'm also accepted into, and almost expected to join in with, the kind of lad culture that exists. A lot of guys will talk about "banging chicks" and how someone is a "paper bag job" and expect me to join in with it, and laugh along with them.

However, the times I don't pass (yes, I am aware that my trans status is a factor here, so it isn't completely clear cut, but from what I understand this is fairly typical) I am subject to unwanted and annoyingly persistent advances, being treated as weak, being catcalled and all sorts of other unpleasant things.

The whole situation makes me uncomfortable, when I pass, although I am simultaneously happy as well, because hey I passed. It also got me thinking, though, if other people (cis or trans) had experienced discomfort at getting male privilege, or of not ever getting it, or having to give it up in the case of male assigned transpeople, or anything about it, really. How do you handle those sorts of things? Is feeling a little guilty normal? What can people do to correct the balance (especially, in my case, without risking outing myself or bringing too much question to my own gender at all)?

Posts: 31 | From: UK | Registered: Apr 2013  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Carpe Diem
Member # 47124

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Hey oneboikyle, great topic!
I, personally, can't relate in the same way you can.

But, since I'm often in an androgynous state (both in dress and in all other aspects) I have had experiences where people have asked (not myself but friends I was with) "is that a boy or a girl?".

Now, I cannot speak to any sort of privilege that goes along with being "defined" as male, but I just wanted to add in my two cents since I think the topic is rockin, and I'd love to hear some other point of views.

"Find a place inside where there's joy, and the joy will burn out the pain."
-Joseph Campbell

Posts: 210 | From: Canada | Registered: May 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 56822

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I think it speaks of the general power balance between "male" and "female" identified people, which is only just now starting to shift. A good example is how much more derogatory sexual-related slang there is regarding females than regarding males (and often the female slang is a lot more derogatory than the male slang even when they talk about the same or equivalent things).

I think it is starting to change though. People are speaking up a lot more, and for example, a recent YouTube video has become very popular around the world of a high-ranking Australian military officer saying that those who denigrate women are not welcome in the armed forces, and probably not welcome elsewhere too. That's something that just would not have happened even perhaps five years ago. So I do believe things have definitely started to shift in a big way in a positive direction, and we are now starting to become more mature as a species. [Smile]

Despite the apparent doom and gloom, there are lot of good things going on at the moment. Just don't expect to see them on the fear/violence focused mainstream media. [Wink] There a lot of good positive sources of news on the internet if you are looking for it and following your intuition on what feels right and positive. [Smile]

Posts: 540 | From: Australia | Registered: Feb 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Peer Ambassador
Member # 95998

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Hey, oneboikyle!

You know, what I've noticed about people who acknowledge their privilege and/or question their surroundings and culture, is that they tend to be a lot more sensitive about the issues of their unprivileged counterparts and a lot less likely to intentionally do anything that would contribute to the oppression of their unprivileged counterparts. The fact that you're able to acknowledge intersectionalities between having privilege as a male vs. not having privilege as a trans* male seems to me that you're very aware of yourself and how you relate to the society you're in. That may not sound like a lot, but truly enough people don't do that in this world. Also, the fact that you're not denying your privilege, that you're aware of what women go through and acknowledge its unfairness, and that you are not trying to consciously wield your privilege over anyone is definitely a good thing. So, hopefully that will give you some comfort in knowing. [Smile]

In terms of things to do as someone with male privilege? Well, I as a person of cisgender privilege (amongst other privileges) tend to either call-out people who make remarks about trans* people or point out misconceptions that people have of them when they bring them up. I guess doing things along those lines could be a few things to keep in mind. Other ways could be (and frankly, I think some of these apply to people of any gender): noticing if a woman's being harassed and calling the harasser out on it (if your safety's not in jeopardy that is, but if it would be unsafe or if you're unsure of your safety, then calling an emergency number would be best), pointing out when certain terms are inappropriate to use about women and refraining from using them yourself, treating women as your equals and not putting them on a pedestal while also not degrading them, and countless other things.

Also, I'd like to add: Congratulations on feeling more comfortable with your gender identity!! [Big Grin]

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." ~Dr. Seuss

Posts: 301 | From: a galaxy far, far away... | Registered: Jun 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 101745

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Kyle, I have worries about this sometimes. When I was really wrestling with my gender and if I wanted to medically/socially transition, one of the big fears I had was "OH NO male privilege!!!" I was really uncomfortable with the idea of having that privilege; I remember wondering if I'd notice the moment that it suddenly appeared, or the first time someone treated me differently because of how they perceived my gender.

In terms of Creepy Dude Conversations, I just don't know or have a lot of exposure to people who act like that for the most part, mostly by choice (and the circumstance of no longer working a customer service job like I used to, when I'd run into a lot more of that). So in some ways I'm pretty isolated from a lot of male behavior I find really off-putting in my daily life.
But! If I ever do hear that sort of thing, I have really been trying to engage with it in some way, or at least send some message that it's Not OK. I don't always feel safe or comfortable taking drastic steps but I do remove myself from those situations, say "hey, not ok" or sometimes "you're being a jerk (or replace "jerk" with stronger language)," and tell other people about people/places/situations that don't feel safe or welcoming. I am also a master of the Scornful Glare, which can be helpful in situations when I'm just not able to say anything for various reasons but want to make sure it's known that I don't approve - as much so other people around me won't assume I agree with what's happening. Sometimes it may not feel safe to do more than that.

What's really important to me is to try to be aware of my privilege, not just male privilege I'm still being baffled by but all sorts of other privileges I have, and try to do my best to act deliberately and consciously while being aware of them. Sometimes I feel guilty, sure! But I'm trying to think about how guilt isn't very helpful here, and awareness and action are.

Posts: 1352 | From: San Francisco | Registered: Jan 2013  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Jacob at Scarleteen
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Member # 66249

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Hey Kyle!

I can relate to this so so deeply. I feel like I experienced a lot of this over the past few years when I guess the public perception of me has been shifting from "kid" to "man" because of my body and final stages of puberty, rather than as a result of transition in the gender I was actively presenting as.

I very recently had an experience where I told a university colleague that I was involved in feminism, explained to him what I do and, I kid you not, his reaction, and attempt to relate to me and show friendship was to attempt to reaffirm my masculine libido by saying something like "Oh, *nervous laugh*, I guess you're in it for all the hot women, *nervous laugh*".

My main reaction was just not to respond in tune, I just calmly said 'no not really'. I was thinking about it and it actually astounds me that from all the information and signals I gave him he could have read me in such a way that he thought the statement he made would bring us closer. I couldn't help feel a tad sorry for him in how naive and out-of-touch he was. I think sometimes it's possible to do that; to process the event internally and even to appreciate the intentions of someone who gets it so so so so wrong indeed, and seems to lack the language to be friendly in other ways. I think that helps me a lot.

There are other times where it feels much more malicious, even when the words are much milder.

I would say that for me how I am privileged and gendered by society frames how I think of myself politically far more than identity or any internal sense of gender. And so for me the weird thing is feeling the need to acknowledge the 'male privilege' I'm the recipient of at the same time as trying to avoid reinforcing a 'male persona' that I don't really identify with.

I can find it hard to put into words, but it is definitely something that plays on my mind a lot.

I often experience all these tiny events where someone momentarily directs an open conversation at me, when there are women in the room, or glances and assumptions, as if I'm being groomed to take up a certain role. It makes my actual intentions, of what sort of person I would like to be, feel diminished.

For all these events, in reflection, I think the tactic I have used the most (probably just to make me feel better) is comedy, to shed light on on the weirdness of the situation to respond in ways that are unexpected is often something which far from threatening people can sometimes be a relief.

I don't know if you can relate to many of those feelings as I guess we all experience it differently, but maybe something here helps?

Thanks for starting the topic anyway, I really appreciate reading your experiences.

Posts: 694 | From: Leeds UK | Registered: May 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator

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