White privilege is something that justifiably shows up a lot in the news of late. Our white person’s culture of the good old USA is standing idly by while the children of our neighbors are gunned down in the streets, apparently because their skin shows too much melanin. Even the poorest of the poor white folks, even those living lives so far outside the law as to be laughable, do not have to fear for those lives at the hands of the people who “enforce” the law.
An awful lot of that force seems to have very little to do with the law and a whole lot to do with something else altogether.
Male privilege shows up a lot, too, particularly if one runs in circles that include a strong feminist bent. Our culture is one in which men have historically held tremendous advantage over women in terms of things like career opportunity, equal pay, or the “right” to vote. Men have been taking credit for women’s accomplishments for years, downplaying the importance of our roles in life (at least in the public eye), committing all those crimes that the abstract entity called “The Patriarchy” has been accused of committing.
Our species is one for which males tend to be physically more powerful than females, such that physical force can be used to subjugate the female. It is one for which a female with offspring to care for requires the support of others of her species, both male and female, to ensure their survival. These days, that dependence tends to be on a single male partner, something our culture has dictated, not our biology. That is what has created the evils of the big bad Patriarchy, not the male of the species.
What created the big bad P was the ridiculous notions put forth by the false gods of the white man’s culture, those created when we decided we were something more than the other species of the earth. Men are not the enemy to women, nor are folks with dark skin the enemy of those with light skin.
The only enemies we have are ideas.
Our species is one for which, not traditionally, but biologically, the role of the female has been to bear and care for the young, typically physically bonded to the offspring for years. The role of the male has been to support the female in those efforts, largely via resource acquisition and use of that superior physical strength to provide for and protect while the female cares for the young. For most of human history, there has been tribe, with men and women working cooperatively to raise the next generation.
There’s nothing cultural about the female role as mother, she who cares for the offspring. What is cultural is this bizarre world we find ourselves in now, where a child is born and immediately taken from mother, handed off to a stranger or series of strangers, none of whom is offering the breast or bond of motherhood. There is hormonal, physiological bonding that takes place. For years. Unless it doesn’t.
In our culture, most often, these days, it doesn’t. That is damaging.
But the topic of this little piece is female privilege, something one doesn’t often hear about. It’s very real, I promise you. Not only do I have far less to fear in terms of being shot down by an over amped police officer because of my white skin, my gender goes a long way toward protecting me as well. Women and children need protection, after all.
And not just against bullets.
One of my bragging rights is that I’ve only ever had one traffic ticket in my life, and that was issued by a machine. It’s not that I don’t speed; crank up the rock n’ roll and my foot can get as leaded as any 1960’s era gasoline. And it’s not that I’ve never been pulled over. In fact, I was once pulled over doing 45 or so in a residential neighborhood posted for 30 (had just bailed out of a traffic jam on the highway; it’s not just rock n’ roll that does it), with an open beer and a pound of weed in the trunk. I set the beer down out of view behind my purse and smiled sweetly at the officer who pulled me over.
I didn’t offer him any sexual favors. He didn’t seek any. But the truth of the matter was that I was a very pretty twenty something year old female who knew how to bat her eyes just right and explain how frustrating the traffic jam was with a big smile on her face to get that free pass. And it’s not just with policemen and traffic stops.
It’s with life. And there’s nothing cultural about it. It’s biological.
Is it any wonder that within this very bent cultural framework males often respond by using physical force to subjugate women? Is it any wonder that they feel incredibly threatened and confused when females start entering the workforce, often outperforming them, and at the expense of the welfare of the children?
And please, before letting angry feminist energy run amok, think very long and hard about what has happened to the welfare of our children over the course of the last fifty years or so. It has not improved by liberating women to go off to work during most their children’s waking hours. Sure, you can have a career and children, too. One of those two is going to suffer for it.
These days, it most often tends to be the children.
Women and men are very different from each other. No one has ever needed to try to convince me that women are “as good as” men, or that we merit “equal rights”. On the contrary, it has taken me many long years to get past the idea of men as something lesser, an idea that even the realms of the biological sciences offers some support for.
Oh how the pendulum does swing.
Had I chosen to write a piece about male privilege, and certainly, there are still many examples of it in this very bent cultural framework, it would fit right within the world views of lots of folks, loved, embraced, considered thoughtfully. This one probably won’t be.
Here’s to hoping for equal rights for men.