the least of his worries

Because D’vorah can’t stomach it today, and because I really, really have issues around people missing the point, a response to Everyday Feminism’s supposedly undeniable proof of male privilege.

Thirty minutes after waking up, I zipped to the school at which I teach and experienced a damn fine day of teaching. Upon my return home, I headed out for a run on an unseasonably warm March afternoon.

After a family dinner and tagging out of the bedtime routine for our four-year-old, I walked to a coffee shop, where I finally started this article, an achievement I rewarded with a short dose of Netflix.

Point 1 is that this man, Jon, who surely means well, apparently has the privilege of a short morning routine, as highlighted by his ability to leave the house thirty minutes after waking. By this definition, I have male privilege too. Or maybe I lay out my clothes the night before, keep my makeup routine short and sweet, and keep things in places where I’m bound to find them as I’m rolling out the door. (Including the obligatory breakfast and wakey-wakey juice. I don’t make coffee. A bottle of Pepsi is much kinder on my tum. I toss a Balance bar in my purse and run like hell.)

The only privilege I see is being able to keep upright in a shower without needing to install a bar or get a shower chair with a back and arms. And having short hair that looks good. Men and women alike have to cope with varying hair lengths and types. Mine is of a type that dries slowly and responds poorly to heat styling — so if I adopt the morning shower routine, I’m going to have to invest in shower caps. There is no such thing as hairism, y’all. Actually, Anneke pointed out, and rightly so, that there is, but it’s not an expression of male privilege. That said! If you are not military, and if you are not black: If your hair is hard to manage in the morning, you figure out how to make morning hair work. If you consider having to primp an oppression, trade jobs with your nearest fast food worker. (Or join the military.) Your priorities need evaluating, and Tina Fey is a comedienne, not a sociologist.

Point 2, about this man’s AUTHORITAH (come on, you’re hearing it in Cartman’s voice, too), appears nowhere in his blurb. If this guy’s a professor, I kinda feel sorry for him. Academic employment is not all that and a bag of crisps. My dad went to school for adult ed — as in teaching adults — and the best he could do was adjunct work. The major differences between himself and his competition:

a) Dad was over fifty. Visibly over fifty.
b) Dad was new to the field.

Jon here hasn’t got gender going for him so much as age and a short, simple path to the profession of his choice. He sounds young (he’s 42 — yes, that’s still young). He’ll probably change careers at least once. He’ll figure out what I mean.

Point 3. Peeing standing up is a privilege? Maybe if this is a college in the back of beyond. I could be weird, but when it comes down to who can hold it longer, I am way better than my dad at this — he’s the one complaining on car rides.

I have no idea why men’s rooms are emptier than women’s. If someone can figure this out instead of just screaming “PEE PRIVILEGE”, we might actually solve this problem with little fuss. Right now, the solution appears to be “design with more stalls in mind in the ladies’ loo” — so it’s an architectural problem.

You want to talk about people who have real pee oppression? Ask the genderqueer. Ask the transgender. Ask those who need the big stalls with the handles and possibly the sinks. Don’t point at cis women as an example of how bad things are on the bathroom front.

(And please remember to put the seat back down if you have a gender-neutral bathroom. Thanks!)

Point 4 is irrelevant in New York because shirtless is okay for everyone! I can run tits-out if I like. I choose to cover up because I personally am not okay with the sexualisation of nudity so prevalent in this country.

Trained for so many years to view women’s breasts as near-magical vessels of sexual arousal, I confess that I struggle in retraining my brain for this paradigm shift.

That’s indicative of a much larger social problem. Pop-feminism: where we can’t see the forest for the trees.

Point 5 is relevant, at least, but I question the wisdom of wandering neighborhoods you don’t know at any time, no matter your gender. People are mean. People are disproportionately mean to women when it comes to harassment, assault, and rape, at least by strangers. I hate to break it to this dude, but his female students probably watch him more closely than that guy on the street. Acquaintance rape is a thing. This article doesn’t bother to differentiate between situations, which… might actually be privilege? Or just ignorance.

Point 6 is sort of relevant. There are places good manners don’t reach online. Do I go there if I can help it? Only when I’m prepared. There are people who bite hard when they think they’re provoked. It would be nice if these dogs underwent some behavior training. That said, it’s the Internet, and if Jon here can’t point to articles on any other website about this big bad woman-unfriendly web, I’m going to tell you that like any other strange neighborhood, you don’t just barge in uninvited. If a site is not for you, explicitly so, back away. It’s not worth the trouble. If you would like a site to be for more of you, consider who’s there and whether you want to move in or just start your own.

If you’re a woman in IT, STEM, gaming, any of it, yes, you are facing down a lot of dudebros. But your foremothers faced down their fair share and the stakes were way higher. Are you a woman or are you a mouse? If you want change, you’ve got to be ready to fight for it.

Point 7 is… debatable. On the one hand, yep, youngish white men are overwhelmingly positively portrayed in media. On the other hand, the opposite of youngish white men is “everyone else” in this case. It also depends on what you consume, and how far down the social stairs you sit. The media is like a highrise, okay? Not everyone gets to use the elevator to get where they want. Some people live in tenth-floor walkups. Some only live on second or third. Some can use an elevator that’s prone to outages. And some can’t climb stairs or even afford the rent.

Most of what I’m saying to this Jon is that it’s not so much male privilege as a combination of factors — welcome to the intersection! And you know what would be way radical? Men backing off so that women’s voices prevail in feminist webspace. But if men will speak, then let them speak about things that matter to more than white middle-class pop-feminists. White middle-class pop-feminists can speak for themselves. They’ve been controlling the conversation. You want to use male privilege for good, figure out how to boost the signal when the signal-to-noise ratio is much, much higher.

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2 thoughts on “the least of his worries

  1. There is no such thing as hairism, y’all. If your hair is hard to manage in the morning, you figure out how to make morning hair work.

    Actually, I would argue this point – though it is not a manifestation of male privilege but white privilege. See this and this for better explanations of what I mean.

    • Not only shall I stand corrected, I’ll point people down to this comment in the text. Thanks. ❤

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