“Women are Privileged Too”

Apparently, the phrase “women are privileged too” is a search term that drove traffic to this blog.

To help with that, should anyone else want to arrive here via the same route, here is a comprehensive list of female privileges.

  • Having grow a new life inside you
  • Taking your clothes off without being thought to be a pervert (not a personal experience)
  • Being able to bitch about the other gender wanting to help you.
  • Being able to make a conscious choice to be inconsistent on the above point, because the other side is afraid.
  • Getting a free meal a lot more often than man.
  • Being able to manipulate men into giving you things (and I want to stress that that ability, not the pattern, is there)
  • Being able to do a lot of sports without being thought of as a jock.
  • Being able to talk about your feelings with same-sex friends without having the asshole around complaining that’s gay.
  • Not getting the constant bullshittery of the compensating-for-small-penis argument.
  • Your gay sex is popular.
  • Having A LOT more freedom to experiment sexually without half of your family having a heart attack.
  • Always having the ability to give the middle finger to a possible career for having a family without having to answer 20 years of questions.

Okay… so they’re not really female privileges. They’re not really anything of the kind in the slightly. And the “your gay sex is popular” one just cracks me up with how spectacularly terribly it misses the entire point.

Full disclosure, now: This list was actually culled from something dropped on a RationalWiki discussion page by a user who shall remain nameless. Eyes were rolled at the time, and I feel I should just copy/paste it just to keep it on hand because I think it comes in useful for illustrating terrible misconceptions of social privileges. These misconceptions of privilege are ingrained in people and they seem to crop up frequently. People get tired of hearing the dreaded p-word (I know I do on occasion) but it’s no excuse for typing out crap like this without any hint of irony.

Social privileges are almost all about what you don’t experience rather than what you do experience – a lack of rape threats, a lack of discrimination over having a perceived “ethnic” name, or a lack of having your right to marry actively oppressed and so on and so forth. And they apply universally at a systematic, social level, not on individual cases. So, for example, a wealthy woman like – to pull an example not-at-all at random – Phyllis Schlafly may indeed have advantages over poverty stricken homeless men, but it’s a class-based privilege and a wealth-based privilege, nothing to do with her being a woman (and this perhaps is what causes Phyllis Schlafly to hold some of the most detestable opinions about women possible).

It’s something people need to get into their head before they ever criticise the p-word or bring up counter-examples: we use privilege as an expression of class-based and on-average experiences, and individual examples don’t invalidate the overall trend.

Ideas like “women get more free meals than men” is just… well, that’s just being a whiny little asswipe for no other reason than being a whiny little asswipe. Ideas like “your gay sex is popular” and “you can experiment with your sexuality” have got nothing to do with supposed female privilege and everything to do with excusing latent homophobic tendencies in society. And the “compensating-for-small-penis argument” is all about the male power fantasy that penis size equals power – I don’t really think that has anything to do with women at all.

So, the idea that “women are privileged too” misses the mark a lot. It really ignores what is going on underneath all this on a social level.

If anyone can find a female privilege that doesn’t straw man the concept, miss the point, or can’t be ultimately attributed to a patriarchal (the other p-word) society, I’d be very interested in taking note of it.

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3 thoughts on ““Women are Privileged Too”

  1. Jack Nicholson’s OCD character in “As Good as it Gets,” when asked how he captures the essence of women so perfectly in his fiction said, “I just think of a man and take away reason and accountability.” OK, you had to have been there.

    Reply
  2. What about “greater freedom to express oneself through clothing”? Could you phrase that as a “lack of”?

    Reply
    • As someone who occasionally doodles character designs (and by extension, costumes) it’s definitely the case that clothing considered “female” is more flexible than “male”. Say, in formal wear women get dresses (so many dresses!!) while men get suits – and while the detail of suit cuts is fascinating and actually a lot more varied than people think (I’m friends with a couple of costumers for stage and theatre) it’s still nothing on what women “get to wear”.

      But the flip-side of that is that women are held to a higher standard than men. If a male celebrity doesn’t shave for a couple of days, and leaves the house to go to the shop wearing sweatpants and a badly fitting shirt, no one cares. If a female celebrity does it, then she’s looking rough, or stopped caring about her appearance, and it’s apparently tabloid-worthy and she’ll get a ring-of-shame and a nice big close up in a glossy magazine. It’s pretty depressing really.

      And then that’s further complicated by things like who and what stops men dressing more flamboyantly (social pressures to not “be gay” for instance) and what groups are working against changing that. Certainly not Manosphere types, that’s for sure.

      If anyone wanted to class that greater freedom of expression to dress up as a female privilege, then sure, whatever. But it needs to be understood in a much wider context of the social pressures we all face to dress to our type – whether it be “manly men” not wearing pink, women always wearing heels and shaving legs, or even poor people never being allowed to wear “nice” things because it proves they’re not poor. There’s a lot to this.

      Reply

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