More Hell, Fewer Dahlias: The Musings of a Radical Feminist.

Male Privilege in Feminist Conversations

Posted on: May 8, 2010

“Men’s bodies are commodified too!” “Men can understand the female experience!” “Men’s genitalia are stigmatized, just like women’s!”

I really think this is  just another way of turning feminist dialogues into being about men and their oppression. Oh noes, it happens to them too!! Which can easily be turned into, “see, they understand what its like!!!”

Nope. Not at all.It happens to the general population, but it specifically and systematically targets women on a large and deeply rooted scale and men can not understand what it means to live that, because they do not live with that reality. Bringing their oppression and experiences into the discussion is another way of the privileged group exerting their privilege.

Example: I’ve been involved in a conversation on Livejournal where the experiences of people with “black” names, like “LaShawn” are treated negatively in job situations due to their names, either by not being called for interviews, but being called when submitting the same resume under Shawn, or by customers while working in telephone positions and giving their name and getting requests for “white” or “nonethnic” personnel. Suddenly, it seemed like a large storm of white people decided they needed to share their experiences with their names barring them from opportunities: a welsh girl in America’s name being spelled a more American way. A white woman named Monica (said Moe-knee-kuh, not mohnikuh) having her named said incorrectly in a waiting room. These events have little to NO significance in the context of discussing the systematic oppression of people of color through name/stereotypes, so it is totally inappropriate for these types of stories to drown out the voices of the people actually living this experience, and it is an example of them using their privilege to continue the oppression, HOWEVER unintentional it is.

That’s what I see whenever I hear “well men’s bodies are stigmatized too!” or “Men don’t feel good about the wage gap!” or “my boyfriend says…” in feminist discussion. It is just another way of shifting the focus off of the people who need to be doing the talking by making the problems less gender specific (“it happens to men too!”), thus marginalizing women even further.


3 Responses to "Male Privilege in Feminist Conversations"

When I was in college, there were some annoying men who didn’t like that men weren’t allowed to speak at the Take Back the Night march. Unfortunately, the women who organized the march actually listened to these whiners one year and let the men talk. Every single man who spoke just laid on some thick victim-blaming and slut-shaming polemic instead of sharing his own story of being sexually assaulted. No big surprise there.

If men are serious about feminism, there are a few important things they have to realize: Sometimes, even if you have a valid point, you don’t always have to say something. Sometimes there are women-only or women-dominant spaces that need to stay that way. Other times, it’s perfectly fine for men to participate. Learn to recognize the difference.Sometimes, a blog post is about how the patriarchy directly and negatively affects women. Other times, it’s also about how the patriarchy also has negative indirect side effects on the men who also benefit from sexism against women. Learn to recognize the difference.Free speech means the government can’t throw you in prison for what you say or force you to remove your own blog post. It doesn’t mean you are free to say whatever you want on someone else‘s blog post. If that someone wants to delete your post, she’s perfectly within her right to do so.

Amen to that.

“Freedom of speech does not protect you from the consequences of saying stupid shit.”

Jim Hines




Your post is spot on. I once had a conversation with a someone who thought it was so, so devastatingly hard for men because EQUAL RIGHTS DON’T GO BOTH WAYS BOO HOO SOUND OF MY OWN PRIVILEGED VOICE. I now can’t cross the road without thinking about this unfortunate person! He said that the following points illustrated there there is currently an unfair female dominance by shouty, hairy and very angry wimminz:

i) The number of breast cancer charities, when there is like ONE for prostate cancer!!!
ii) The fact that women think men are always going to ravish them! What is with that, eh!?
iii) The fact that the women in his workplace could wear cheap clothing, while he had to suffer the absolutely grating injustice of buying an expensive suit. Now, how is that fair at all!?

He made me incoherently angry. Later he said that he wanted to provoke discussion. Yes, of course…

Also, when I talk about dark skin in Asian cultures I get comments from white people or light-skinned Asian people saying OH YEAH I FEEL THE SAME WAY WHEN PEOPLE TELL ME I SHOULD GET A TAN – which is entirely absurd. Like the example you illustrated with “ethnic” names, it is simply bringing their privilege into my space. Sometimes – maybe even a lot of the time – you don’t have to say something, you can just listen!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: