A Rose By Any Other Name ( Hidden Patriarchy And Male Privilege)"Feminism is a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians."
~Pat Robertson, multi-millionaire televangelist and former presidential candidate, 1992
Before discussing “male privilege” it is first important to define what privilege means in an anti-oppression setting. Privilege, at its core, is the advantages that people benefit from ba
Privilege is: About how society accommodates you. It’s about advantages you have that you think are normal. It’s about you being normal, and others being the deviation from normal. It’s about fate dealing from the bottom of the deck on your behalf.
Since social status is conferred in many different ways —everything from race to geography to class —all people are both privileged and non-privileged in certain aspects of their life. Furthermore, since dynamics of social status are highly dependent on situation, a person can benefit from privilege in one situation while not benefiting from it in another. It is also possible to have a situation in which a person simultaneously is the beneficiary of privilege while also being the recipient of discrimination in an area which they do not benefit from privilege
Male privilege is a set of privileges that are given to men as a class due to their institutional power in relation to women as a class. While every man experiences privilege differently due to his own individual position in the social hierarchy, every man, by virtue of being read as male by society, benefits from male privilege.
When first dealing with the concept it might be easier to approach it from a systematic, rather than personal, approach. Consider,
[T]rue gender equality is actually perceived as inequality. A group that is made up of 50% women is perceived as being mostly women. A situation that is perfectly equal between men and women is perceived as being biased in favor of women.
Male privilege may be more obvious in other cultures, but in so-called Western culture it’s still ubiquitous. In fact, it’s so ubiquitous that it’s invisible. It is so pervasive as to be normalized, and so normalized as to be visible only in its absence. The vast, vast, vast majority of institutions, spaces, and subcultures privilege male interests, but because male is the default in this culture, such interests are very often considered ungendered. As a result, we only really notice when something privileges female interests.
Most people do not think twice about a woman who shares the same name as her husband; they simply assume that the shared name is his family name. This is an illustration about how male privilege operates in stealth. When a wife does not share the same name as the husband, however, it often leads to confusion and even anger. This is because the male-oriented option (wife taking husband’s name) is seen as default, and the neutral option (both parties keeping their original names) is a deviation from that norm and therefore comes across as privileging the woman because it doesn’t privilege the man.
And if you don’t believe me, you’ve never been a married woman who kept her family name. I have had critics/anti-feminists hold that up as proof of feminist “sexism.” My long time friend even told me that he could never marry a woman who kept her name because “everyone would know who ruled that relationship.” Perfect equality –my husband keeps his name and I keep mine – is held as a statement of superiority on the part of a wife or woman.
In this case the inequality is perceived, in part, because taking one’s husband’s name is considered “normal” for a woman, whereas choosing to keep one’s own name deviates from that. Popular culture often labels this behavior as “emasculating” to a man, but never bothers to question how a woman might feel being asked to give up something that has been part of her since her birth. This is an example of a culture of male privilege —where a man’s position and feelings are placed above that of the woman’s in a way that is seen as normal, natural, and traditional.
It is important to keep in mind that the above example is not an outside incident; male privilege is an institutional problem that has a long history associated with it.
Men need to get it through their heads that they, too, are under the heel of power structures that have no interest in promoting their welfare. They must understand that the rights and privileges that they have hitherto been enjoying fall far short of the privileges they could enjoy were they to try and achieve them. The internecine warfare that occurs between women and men, people of color and white people, straights and gays, as they all squabble like schoolchildren in an attempt to gain or deny rights, is exactly what those in power want.
Many anti-feminists promote patriarchy because essentially they say they care about equality for women and that we’ve already gotten there; and that all the other concerns of feminists is not important because the sex-differences are meant to be. frequently they dismiss feminist concerns about sexual harrassment, about women being forced out of their careers and back into the home, or about date-rape, saying that these things are not about equality and are oppressive to MEN.
I am writing this story because of a post by absofab where people questioned the need for feminism and the prevalence of hidden patriarchy. I hope this puts a little perspective on this issue.
I would like to know, how do you feel about wives taking the husbands last name, children taking their fathers last name, is this proof of patriarchy?
Ambitieuxetvicieux 31-35, F 11 Responses 11 Apr 8, 2012