Welcome to the new home of The Masculine Mystique!


“The Masculine Mystique” is now called “XY Feminist”. I’ll be blogging here on an irregular basis, or contributing to one of my other related projects:

  • The List of Male Privileges – The project that started this whole blog. This list serves as the summary / table of contents for the majority of this blog.
  • Feminist Game Reviews – There’s a ton of sexist and misogynist video games out there, as Feminist Frequency has shown in her Tropes vs. Women in Video Games series. So I’m posting reviews for the rare games where you don’t get stuck playing  sexist stereotypes, and where the female characters are not degraded or assaulted. Submissions are also welcome!
  • The Arrow – A blog covering my first attempt to write a radical feminist science fiction novel. I’m looking for suggestions and feedback from anyone interested in the project, so I will be tossing out my ideas about sci-fi and occasionally posting drafts as well.
  • Ad-response stickers – An old project from my college years. After some particularly misogynistic ads went up in a nearby subway station, I made these nifty little stickers so that people could make their objections to the ads known. Unfortunately, this shit happens all the time, so I’ve kept the stickers online (sold at cost) for anyone else who wants them.
  • Goodreads – Where I post some of the great books that I have read, and occasional reviews of them as well!

I hope you find something useful here, and comments are always welcome.

Enjoyments vs. Benefits and Male Privilege

Regarding my List of Male Privileges, Anonymous recently asked:

As a man, do you think that I really enjoy and benefit from all these privileges?

The two verbs chosen by Anonymous are quite interesting: “enjoy” and “benefit”. Let’s break them down:

Enjoyment and Male Privilege

When it comes to male privileges, what you enjoy, what you dislike, what you love, what you hate, what you desire, or what you despise is utterly irrelevant.

Male privilege doesn’t care who you are or what you want. Male privilege (as part of a self-perpetuating social hierarchy we call Patriarchy) is conferred upon men automatically by society simply because of those dangly bits between their legs.

Benefits and Male Privilege

And when it come to male privileges, all men benefit. There is no opt-out clause for Male privilege. Even if men don’t enjoy their male privileges, even if they don’t want them, they still get them. As a man, feeling guilty about your privileges will not will not lead to women interrupting you while you speak. Being an outspoken male feminist will not turn you into a prime target for street harassment. Male privilege is the result of large-scale social inequalities (from income disparities, to Rape Culture, to government legislation of women’s bodies, and many others) that stretch far beyond the desires and actions of single individuals.

The Enjoyment and Benefit of Denying Male Privilege

But while a man can’t control his male privileges, he can pretend they don’t exist, especially when he doesn’t enjoy having to face-up to these privileges. I call this the Privilege of Having No Privileges. Men call upon this privilege by simply rejecting the idea of  male privilege, and then repeatedly insisting that the intentions of their actions outweigh the effects their actions have on people.

And since our society has little interest in correcting venerable, deep-seeded social inequalities (see Ferguson), such denials of inequality will go a long way.

But no matter how many people nod in agreement that male privilege is a fantasy, the results on the ground will not change.

So in response to Anonymous, yes, you do benefit from male privilege, whether you enjoy them or not. The only choice you get is whether you open or shut your eyes to the inequalities that have already been laid at your feet.

A Solution to the Trans-Bathroom Debate: Liberate the Men’s Room

“Should transwomen be allowed in women’s restrooms? Yes or no?”

This is the mantra of pundits everywhere whenever the subject of transpeople is broached in the mainstream media. The mostly cis-male pundits lean over their tables, looking down at one of the few, publicly accepted, women-only spaces in the country with the same scrutinizing gaze I imagine the English had when they were drawing colonial boundaries across the world. They are more than happy to carve up someone else’s space while continuing to enjoy the excesses of their own.

Meanwhile, no pundits ever question men’s spaces. Few concerns are ever raised by media outlets about transmen in men’s bathrooms, because the foregone conclusion (that it’s open season on any transman who is found in a men’s room) is one that the mainstream media is happy to condone and ignore. And since transmen are still well under the radar of public concern [1], while women still don’t have the privilege to govern their own spaces (Virginia Wolfe’s A Room of One’s Own is, sadly, still relevant in 2015), the media is happy to draw the “battle lines” between transwomen and women’s restrooms.

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Of Skunks and Sea Lions

After Anita Sarkeesian mentioned me on Twitter last week, the trolls and MRA’s came out of the woodwork for a good ol’ fashioned dogpile.

Or as women on the Internet would call it, Monday.

However, since I am male, the number of death threats that I received during the whole furor was precisely zero (see the Male Privilege of Relative Safety).

But among the usual witless h8ters were two especially insidious kinds of trolls: the sea lions, and what I call the skunks.

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The Ugly History of the “World’s Largest Provider of Scholarships for Women”

Before John Oliver’s takedown of the Miss America scholarship program, few people realized that the Miss America pageant is the world’s largest provider of scholarships for women (even when you take their accounting fraud into account). But fewer still are aware of the of the downright ugly history of the Miss. America pageant itself, and how it got involved in women’s scholarships in the first place.

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Intersectionality and Male Privilege

Recently, I received this comment from Nar on my List of Male Privileges FAQ page:

 “I am bi-racial (Native American & Black). I am also male, and as I went down your list I found that none of those “male” privileges are afforded to me. I have a strong understanding of feminism and it’s importance. I also understand that there is rampant misogyny and violence against women within both the Native American and Black communities. I am just asking to please be specific when you’re talking about privilege.”

Thank you for your comment, Nar. Especially since it lets me dive right into the subject of Intersectionality.

In short, you are only partially correct (and also incorrect) when you say that many of the male privileges on this list are not afforded to you.

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