It’s not really a man’s fault that he is favoured in society. Indeed, it actually even works to his detriment. But the phenomenon of white male privilege, or more generally male privilege, works just as much against women as it does against men. When a male complains about the things that should be done for him, or the special considerations he is due because ‘he works so hard’, he feels unfairly treated and she just wishes he would get over himself.
Neither male nor female is actually privileged from this context.
It’s a societal problem, and it has ramifications as far as domestic abuse, even murder. Male privilege is a phenomenon known within psychological science as a socio-cultural factor that has swept our globe for hundreds if not thousands of years.
But anyone—male or female—serious about relational life and venturing forward within the workings of love and respect has opportunities of awareness and action.
The Opportunities of Awareness
It was only relatively recently that I recognised how much I had bought in to my own sense of male privilege. I cherished and protected my time—harbouring it, even, you could say, worshipping time. I could surrender anything just about, but time. The cause: male privilege. I felt I deserved my time, to spend as I wished. And besides the fact that I quarried this time in useful pursuits, like writing, my heart wasn’t right.
The opportunity of awareness, for me, occurred through some timely counselling research and study. The penny dropped, and the light went on within me.
With other things transforming within me already in train, I finally saw the truth regarding my coveting of time. Having become aware, and almost without the need for prayer, I felt my carnal grip on time loosen. I became more available, and surrender became easier.
As a result, I was blessed with a sense of pervading peace for no longer needing to covet time. (But if I’m honest, I may continue to be vulnerable regarding the manipulation of ‘my’ time.)
Other men may not struggle so much with surrendering their time, but I believe men more than women struggle to surrender because of this issue of male privilege. And, as above, my belief is backed up by socio-cultural science.
The Opportunities For Action
There are opportunities for both men and women regarding how we effectively deal with male privilege.
Women should continue to gracefully accede to their men, within the bounds of fairness—whatever would be fair for both sexes. It takes a good deal of strength to be assertive—to watch for both people’s needs—but that is the opportunity for action for women.
Men, on the other hand, have an opportunity—emerging (hopefully) from their heightened awareness—to consider the negative role male privilege plays in their relationships, particularly with their partners. It is possible to have a level playing field between the genders, certainly from the viewpoint of how we treat each other. When a man can work on his surrender, especially within the difficult things he wants to control, he challenges his sense of male privilege.
Opportunities for action need to be acted upon. It is no good promising without delivering.
Male privilege is a problem for both genders, and it is not caused by men, but by society as a whole. When both men and women can agree their relationships transcend typical gender boundaries—both genders deserving equal privilege—trust and respect soars and love ascends to beautiful heights.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.
Postscript: Male privilege is defined as “one of the many power structures that may exist within a given society... [it] describes one of many systemic power structures that are interdependent and interlinked throughout societies and cultures.” (Source: Wikipedia)