August 17, 2013

White privilege = male privilege

Of course all men don’t hate women. But all men must know they benefit from sexism

Anger is an entirely appropriate response to learning that you’re implicated in a system that oppresses women–but the solution isn’t to direct that anger back at women.

By Laurie Penny
These days, before we talk about misogyny, women are increasingly being asked to modify our language so we don’t hurt men’s feelings. Don’t say, “Men oppress women”–that’s sexism, as bad as any sexism women ever have to handle, possibly worse. Instead, say, “Some men oppress women.” Whatever you do, don’t generalise. That’s something men do. Not all men–just some men.

This type of semantic squabbling is a very effective way of getting women to shut up. After all, most of us grew up learning that being a good girl was all about putting other people’s feelings ahead of our own. We aren’t supposed to say what we think if there’s a chance it might upset somebody else or, worse, make them angry. So we stifle our speech with apologies, caveats and soothing sounds. We reassure our friends and loved ones that “you’re not one of those men who hate women”.

What we don’t say is: of course not all men hate women. But culture hates women, so men who grow up in a sexist culture have a tendency to do and say sexist things, often without meaning to. We aren’t judging you for who you are but that doesn’t mean we’re not asking you to change your behaviour. What you feel about women in your heart is of less immediate importance than how you treat them on a daily basis.

You can be the gentlest, sweetest man in the world yet still benefit from sexism. That’s how oppression works. Thousands of otherwise decent people are persuaded to go along with an unfair system because it’s less hassle that way. The appropriate response when somebody demands a change in that unfair system is to listen, rather than turning away or yelling, as a child might, that it’s not your fault. And it isn’t your fault. I’m sure you’re lovely. That doesn’t mean you don’t have a responsibility to do something about it.
Comment:  This applies 100% to whites and racism. Whites can be completely non-racist in their personal lives--although studies show that's difficult to do. But they still benefit from a racist system that oppresses and criminalizes brown-skinned people.

It's called white privilege, folks. It's exactly like the unquestionable advantage men have over women, but with race, not gender.

For more on the subject, see:

Time to profile white men?
Whiteness defines others as outsiders
White "norm" is planned and enforced
White = sick, brown = deviant
White privilege will end soon


Anonymous said...

One of the most offending and popularly denied facts is that women in the military are raped by senior officers and commanders is in itself a protected and sacred crime. The military systematically abused rape victims, prosecuted and denied them benefits. And what about colleges Whats the stats on women raped unreported? If violence is an American tradition, surely rape surfaces sometime?

dmarks said...

"White privilege" is itself a racist concept: an unintellectual generalization.

"t's called white privilege, folks. It's exactly like the unquestionable advantage men have over women, but with race, not gender."

The tends of millions of whites in poverty really have an "unquestionable advantage" over everyone else????

The reasonable, intellectual thing, is to let go of the "easy" shortcut of racial stereotypes and deal with matters as they are.