‘Female Privilege’ is a movement defending the stereotypes and injustices that men face as a result of responsive stereotypes or programs that defend women’s rights. The purpose is to provide insight into the struggles of men and the arguable gaps in society’s concern for male issues.
Fear is an involuntary emotion, usually based upon a genuine belief or past experience. A prime example of Female Privilege is where a man finds himself being avoided by women on the street late at night out of fear he will harm or rape her. Generally, men are physically stronger, taller and able to easily overpower a woman. Even disregarding statistics concerning violence against women, it is a human instinct for weaker human beings to feel threatened when confronted with more physically strong people. Is a man’s irritation caused by someone avoiding them on a dark street really more concerning than the state of a society where women involuntarily feel fear against a stronger human being?
Within the Female Privilege debate, there appear to be two main sorts of examples. One refers to instances where men’s health, education and welfare are neglected for the sake of women’s issues. For example, the ratio of male to female homelessness is skewed in favour of women. The degree of health care funding to women versus men supports women. In such cases, it is definitely important to highlight gaps in social awareness for issues where inequality disadvantages males. There is no issue with this side of the debate.
However, the second type of example within Female Privilege are those that use statistical and entrenched discrimination, oppression and physical violence to find a way that this hurts mens feelings or creates negative stereotypes. These are a few key examples: “Being able to ask out a guy without being labelled as a ‘creep’”, “being able to have drunk sex without being considered a rapist” and “Being able to call the police in a domestic dispute and knowing police will take your side.”
Men who actively support the equality of women would of course be frustrated when women or society treat them as if they are a villain. However, one of the central purposes of feminism is to prevent harm. If a male genuinely supports the equality and safety of women, is it really the best use of their energy to attack or criticise women for holding genuine fears or statistically founded beliefs as a means to protect themselves?
The fact that men are trying to compete with whose issue is worse makes it clear that the point has been missed. The most constructive attitude is not to attack the discriminated, but for men to encourage other men who commit such offences to make behavioural and attitude changes. It is far better to understand the far reaching ripple effects of violence, abuse, crimes and discrimination against women on social and professional levels. This will enable society to end discrimination as opposed to attacking the affected individuals.
What this movement fails to recognise is that the very reason these “injustices” or stereotypes exist against men is because of years of physical suffering, crime and injury caused to women across time, statistically caused by men.
Directing anger towards the results of discrimination, as opposed to the perpetrators themselves, fails to address the issues or work towards a solution. Whilst feminism should never be the cause of bullying or unfair labeling, both Female Privilege and Discrimination against Women are detrimented where we attack the victims and not the perpetrators.
Centuries of discriminatory attitudes and disadvantageous value systems cannot be resolved in a matter of years. It takes time. However, a cooperative attitude from both men and women is the first step towards a more equitable, just and safe society.
What are your thoughts? Have you been victim to either Male Privilege or Female Privilege?
WORDS BY Cyndall McInerney. PropellHer supports women in the workplace, helping to ensure that they have equal opportunities for entry-level and leadership positions. Take a look at our mentoring program to see how a mentor could help support you and your career.
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