Male Privilege

What does that mean?

My sisters and I sometimes discuss male privilege. Over the course of our own lives as women, we have seen how systems favor the man over the woman. One ongoing theme has been determining acceptable social behavior by people in the workplace. Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects employees from sexual harassment in the workplace. Both my sister and I experienced inappropriate sexual advances from men more than once over the course of our careers. Note that this law was passed in 1964. When I was working in an administrative position in a school district in the 90’s, the director of personnel who was in charge of enforcing the district’s sexual harassment policy made direct advances to me. We were both married. His words were: “I’d like to get to know you in every way possible.” There was no mistaking his intention.

Our society, through magazines, televisions, films etc., objectifies women. Our bodies are portrayed as objects of desire. Unconscious and gullible men and boys believe that is all that we are. When I was newly married, my ex-husband used to leave his Playboy magazines lying around. When he went off to work, I’d browse through them and wonder how I could possibly compare to those glossy images. I was nineteen and wondered if this was what a woman had to aspire to in order to win and keep a man. This, once again, was me as a young woman seeing myself through his eyes.

Equal pay for equal work is one valid point of contention. The gender pay gap still exists although according to recent studies, it is less than in previous years. In the film Made in Dagenham (England), taking place in the late sixties, the women had to prove that their labor was skilled labor. They were pretty much ignored and placated by the management of the Ford Motor Company until they went on strike. These women sewed the seats and other leather interior of the car. Their strike shut down the entire production line. They proved their worth. In 1968, the women received 92% of what the men were earning. By 1984, they received 100% of what the men were earning.

While men could advance on a job, women were not given the same opportunities for advancement. If she was young and married, there was the possibility that a woman might get pregnant and her priorities would change, therefore, she was not promoted into a position for which she was qualified. I don’t know if this is true presently…but it was so in the sixties, seventies, eighties and even the nineties.

In a nutshell, “Male privilege refers to the sociological concept that men are automatically granted certain privileges and advantages in politics, society and the workplace based entirely on their gender.” (Greenhaven Publishing) Additionally, a man’s access to these privileges could vary based on how closely he matches his society’s ideal male norm. In my opinion, male privilege is basically a class system. It allows power over…within the male privilege itself, there are layers or levels of power…white male being at the top…discriminating against men of color, men of other gender identification, men with lower educational advantages, men of poverty, etc. Women fall below all of these on the scale.

This favoritism has been a given within a patriarchal system. The underlying belief of man’s superiority and women’s inferiority is systemic and notable throughout societies and cultures.

I asked Daniel “If the world is working for the man, what’s his incentive to change himself or the way that things are?”

Daniel is at a stage in his life where self-awareness is a priority. He values his personal evolution. In his opinion, therein lies the hope for mankind. As people, male and female become more conscious, then large-scale change for the better is possible. But, how do you motivate that in men who see no need for change and don’t care about evolution. They can be the very ones with money and power on this plane at this time.

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A journal writing from November 20, 2015
As a rule, across the world, are men less “evolved” than women? Since they, within each culture and tribe or family system, are typically the privileged ones, does it seem then less necessary for them to evolve? If things are working for them (or seem to be as compared to women), why should they choose change? Evolution? Change often comes because something isn’t working for a person, for a civilization, culture or tribe. Out of necessity. What necessity is forcing the privileged male to change?
So long as women, whose evolution has been different, allow men to rule without consequence, then there can be no immediate growth even in the face of dire circumstances which are denied or minimized or mocked in some way.

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Do you have experiences of male privilege in your own life? Please do share them.

Grow Up!

“What is a woman’s role in regards to the immature males in her life, grown men who refuse to grow up and take responsibility?”

When I asked Daniel this question, he paused in deep thought before he answered. He reverted to the teachings of Vitvan. In this spiritual philosophy, woman is a representative of The World Mother. The World Mother has been defined as “the creator of all life, of the earth, there is no being greater than she, and her powers appear to be limitless. She is known as Mother to her children, of which there are more than there are numbers, but she is neither male nor female.”

If a woman is a representative of The World Mother, then her task, according to Daniel, is to step into the dignity of that role. Her task is to value herself, to elevate herself, to love herself. According to Daniel, the more that a woman can live from this place of self-valuing, healthy self-esteem, the less tolerance she is going to have towards the immature male. It is not her job to support his immature ways. The more that women across the planet can step into their true dignity and power, the more men will be forced to GROW UP!

That’s in a Utopian world, of course. Easier said than done. Change doesn’t occur overnight and we’ve got a long ways to go. Yet, change is imperative now. Climate change is demanding that humans become self-aware and understand how we are woven into the web of life.

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Whether or not I believe in Vitvan’s spiritual philosophy, I recognize the need for a woman to grow into esteeming and loving herself. This self-esteem and love of self is often hard won, as we are embedded in systems and creation stories that don’t favor women. Being that across the world patriarchal systems rule, our experiences from birth are steeped in that dysfunctional male paradigm. Women often see themselves through the eyes of the men in their lives. We dress and behave in ways to win his approval. We measure ourselves according to how well we follow the precepts of the male-crafted religions. We see ourselves according to how we fit into the established society or culture. We are conscious of how successfully we have adhered to what we learned from our parents. And, we also might see ourselves in reaction to what our parents taught by their words and/or through their example. Regardless, we are always in relation to this overriding male-created paradigm.

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I asked Daniel, if a woman can only love as mother, are men looking for a mother in a woman, their wife, partner, friend? With a slight hesitation, Daniel said “Yes, I think so…unconsciously. After all, that’s his first female experience…this is his initial introduction to life. [Ultimately], he has to break away. I feel that many men don’t because it’s an evolutionary step and they remain sons…it’s compounded by the fact, as Vitvan would say, that woman can only love as mother and then you have the ungrown child…”

My ex-husband was tied to his mother’s apron strings. There is the saying “your son is your son until he takes him a wife.” For her son to grow into a responsible husband and father, my mother-in-law needed to let him go. She never did. “My poor son, my dear son” was her refrain. He was always her son, her boy, and he never partnered equally with me, his wife. His mother hampered his growth into manhood. And I was groomed to let the man run the show allowing him to “have his cake and eat it too.” There were times I tried to put my foot down, but he had the power in the relationship until I grew in my own self-awareness.

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My sisters and I sometimes discuss male privilege. I asked Daniel “If the world is working for the man, what’s his incentive to change himself or the way that things are?”

What are your thoughts on that as a woman or as a man? Your comments are welcome.