I’ve met many men who are convinced that men and women are completely equal in modern society. This belief, when aired in public, is usually paired with the complaint that, “women have it so easy”.
These are ludicrous assertions.
As evidence than men DO enjoy extra privileges in our patriarchal society, below is a semi-regularly updated list of male privileges. These privileges strengthen men as a class and damage the lives of all women across the globe (and in some cases, men as well *). Male privilege is a direct consequence of Patriarchy. These systemic privileges give men an incentive to support the current systems of oppression and discrimination, but men who extol or defend these privileges cannot be considered feminists, proponents of human rights, or good people.
This male privilege list is just the tip of the injustice iceberg. The list barely touches non-western cultures and is far from exhaustive. It is also not the only one out there. Alas, a blog had the same idea years ago. Their male privilege list was itself inspired by Peggy McIntosh, whose White Privilege List inspired this whole shebang. Not surprisingly, there is a lot of overlap between male privilege, white privilege, and the myriad of other social strata in our society. Together, they form the interlinked systems of oppression and discrimination that maintain the hierarchical abuses of the status quo.
But maybe if enough of us point out these omnipresent acts of habituated injustice, we can start to confront and correct them in our daily lives.
One can always hope.
[NOTE: This list is an evolving project, so feel free to add your suggestions, comments, or ideas for new privileges on the Male Privilege List FAQ Page. I credit reader contributions whenever I update the list.]
The List of Male Privileges
(In cases where there are related blog entries, you can click on thE title to view them.)
- Privilege To Murder – The vast majority of murders (of both men and women) are committed by men. In cultures throughout the world, men are raised to be able to fight and kill, while women are raised to be delicate and pacifistic. This inequality of power spills over into relations between men and women, where 85% of intimate partner victims are women. Of all the mass-shootings in the US, 40% started with the gunman killing his wife, ex-wife, or girlfriend. Women are typically more likely than men to die in gruesome ways (such as hanging, strangulation, burning, suffocation, and drowning). And in some cultures, such gruesome murders of female relations by men are still legal and condoned (see honor killings).
While the vast majority of men do not kill, the cultural narrative (perpetuated by everything from “true crime” stories, to horror movies, to video games) is that men have the capacity for gruesome murder when “pushed too far”, while women are portrayed as physically incapable of keeping themselves safe without the aid of men. In contrast, when men are depicted as murder victims they typically die on their feet or while fighting back. Thus men are taught to live their lives comfortable in their own strength to defend themselves, while women are taught that they are targets. Women are constantly warned against being alone, traveling alone, or doing anything else without men to protect them. The media has also taught women to fear the potential anger of all men in their lives, lest they risk bringing down their wrath. This gender terrorism helps underpin much of male privilege.
- Privilege To Rape – Destroying the life of another human being through a very effective form of torture. Statistically, women are far more likely than men to be raped, while men are far more likely than women to commit rape. Due to the many abhorrent cultural norms surrounding the crime of rape, rapists are rarely ever punished and retaliation against rape survivors is common. Some forms of rape (like prostitution and sex slavery) are either legal or the laws against them are largely unenforced. Since women are needed to perpetuate the species, rape is used far more often than murder as a tool to enforce male privilege.
- Ownership of Women’s Bodies – The fundamental inequality between men and women in our society, is the idea that all women, by simply being women, can have their reproduction regulated by the state and should be sexually available to men at any time regardless of their own desires or consent. This pernicious ideology manifests itself in several destructive male privileges and harmful social practices, including: the oversexualization of women and young girls, the acceptance of male sexual aggression as “natural”, the default assumption that women have given their consent to sex, rape culture, prostitution and pornography, discrimination against women in the workforce, laws that outlaw or restrict abortion and contraception, female genital mutilation, traditional marriage, and the conservative fight against the vaccination of girls for HPV. This antifeminist ideology results in all women being relegated to a second-case citizen status known as the Sex Class, where they are treated as sexual objects first and fully autonomous people second. [h/t to IBTP]
- Privilege of Prostitution – The institutionalized rape of mostly women and girls, by almost exclusively men, through a global network of physical and economic violence and sexual slavery.
- Privilege of Violence Against Women – Men are allowed to use violence to both defend themselves and to hurt women. 90% of violent criminals are male. In contrast, women’s self-defense is marginalized and the few classes that do exist generally lack forceful and effective techniques. Laws meant to protect victims of domestic violence (such as restraining orders, incarceration of violent abusers over mere probation, restriction of gun purchases by individuals convicted of domestic violence charges, etc.) are poorly enforced. In contrast, when women do retaliate against male aggressors with violence, the media typically responds with shock and outrage and the law comes down hard on them. When assaulted by a man, women are expected to acquiesce completely to the assault, to never seek retribution, and to die quietly.
- Privilege of Domestic Abuse – In addition to physical violence against women, men are allowed to stalk, terrorize, and abuse women verbally and emotionally. Domestic abuse is at epidemic levels, and in the vast majority of cases it is men abusing women and children. While laws do exist for victims of domestic abuse, they are poorly enforced with perpetrators rarely if ever seeing jail time. Police routinely dismiss domestic violence calls and are reluctant to respond to them. Even in the rare cases that such crimes go to court, there are “Men’s Rights” groups and attorneys ready to get men off and to battle the abused women for custody of their (likely also abused) children.
- Privilege to Hate Women – Men are allowed to hate women as a class, and to make hateful and threatening remarks about women they don’t even know with little recourse. When a woman calls these men out for misogyny, she is regarded as either radical or paranoid. Unlike misandry, misogyny is normalized, tolerated among male peers, and encouraged on many sites online. Obviously, both misandry and misogyny should be eradicated, but out of the two misogyny is widely tolerated. There are few social repercussions for misogyny, and hate speech and threats of violence against women are rampant online.
- Privilege of Sexual Harassment – Since all women are relegated to a Sex Class, any women can be subject to dehumanization, sexual harassment, threats of violence, stalking, and gender terrorism, with little to no social or legal recourse.
- Privilege of Male Gaze – Men’s sexual perspective, embraced by society, normalizes the dehumanization of women and girls, and inoculates men from being dehumanized themselves.
- Privilege of Pornography – Men are provided with widespread access to prostitution-based propaganda that, under the guise of sexual freedom of expression, exploits and sexually abuses porn stars, fetishizes domestic violence, promotes male dominance over women, and whitewashes rape culture. Pornography is erotica that promotes the idea that men have the right to women’s bodies and should dominate women sexually, whether women want it or not. Pornography has now spread to mainstream culture, further prioritizing male sexual fantasies over women’s sexuality and bodily autonomy. Pornography further promotes the relegation women into the Sex Class.
- Privilege to Make the Rules – Those with the power make the rules. So many laws have been written by lawmakers, interpreted by justices (whom, throughout most of history, referred to each other as ‘Brother’), and enforced by the police to benefit men at the expense of women.
- Privilege to Make History – History is written by the victors, so men throughout human history have turned it into a story of Great Men, to benefit themselves at the expense of women.
- Privilege of Owning Religion – Religion codifies the rules of morality for the majority of people on this planet. The governance the world’s major religions has been the sole province of men throughout history, and the lead supreme beings in the vast majority of religious pantheons have been codified as male. Religion has, over the centuries, normalized the traditional behaviors and gender roles that benefit men, and deemed systems that marginalize women to be both divinely mandated and good. Even the philosophical movement that is the purported antithesis to religion, Atheism, has largely espoused this philosophy of male-dominance.
- Privilege of Marriage – The purpose of marriage, as an institution, has been to sanctify the ownership of women by men. This has been the sole purpose of marriage for thousands of years, and continues to be its primary purpose in many countries today. While some progress has been made to bring love and equality into the institution of marriage in more progressive countries, the division of labor between men and women in most marriages still reflect the traditions of men as bosses/owners and women as subordinates/property. Women still symbolically lose their identities in marriage by being expected to give up their last name and move closer to their husband’s job and/or family. Moreover, it is still completely normal and acceptable for the husband to be much richer and older than their wife, and to control nearly every aspect of the marriage outside of domestic labor. Marriages where the wife earns more, is older, or makes most of the decisions are routinely derided. And the few marriages where wages, domestic chores, and decision-making powers are equal are often regarded as unusual and unorthodox.
- Privilege to Define Everything – Men’s perspectives and values are the only valid ones in society. The intentions of men’s actions are more important to society than the actual effects their actions have on women. Men’s ideas about women supersede women’s reality. Men can declare themselves feminist when they decide to be, or even oppressed when convenient. Men’s claims will be taken as fair and objective, and will remain uncontested even when they make no sense.
[Thanks to Varnish Eater, acidbill]
- Privilege to Define Women – Women start with zero credibility in society, allowing men to wade in and analyze, define, and judge women’s lives and experiences. Men can stereotype the failures of one or two women onto the entire gender, and define or scapegoat women however they like. From hysteria to insecurity, men can project their own worst qualities onto women and blame women for their own oppression. Women must constantly explain and defend their own thoughts and actions to men when they fail to conform to men’s expectations, and even then men can reinterpret women’s explanations as they see fit. Any discussion that treats a women’s perspective as sincere is seen as “unorthodox”.
[Thanks to Varnish Eater]
- Privilege of Not Being Judged – Judgment is usually restrained when it comes to men’s actions. From the sanctity of their personal choices, to not being criticized for mistakes, to dismissing drug use, to ignoring familial neglect, to getting special treatment after violating company policies, to excusing charges of rape, and even acquittal from murder, men can expect smaller punishments and less social scorn for their actions, and lighter rebukes for their failures than women.
- Privilege of Blind Trust – Society gives men the benefit of the doubt when it comes to trust. Even with politicians and criminals, society assumes that men are more honorable than women. Despite lip-service paid to “a woman’s virtuous nature”, men get more respect for following their own moral compass, are less likely to have their moral compass questioned, and are more likely to be blindly trusted in difficult situations. In contrast, women are almost never trusted to act honorably. A woman’s word is questioned more often than men’s, and their motivations are regarded with more suspicion. It is not uncommon for men to disparage women en masse as a lying, backbiting, and manipulative gender.
In cases of ‘he-said, she-said’ it is common for the man’s story to be believed over a woman’s, even when it is the word of one man against the counter-assertions of several different women at once.
- Privilege of Physical Strength – Male beauty standards and male-dominated sports (football, boxing, martial arts, etc.) encourage men to build muscle. Conversely, female beauty standards and female-dominated sports (gymnastics, figure skating, etc.) strongly discourage women from bulking up and having muscle. Femininity demands that women lose as much body mass as possible in the pursuit of ‘thinness’. Crash dieting, protein-free and fat-free diets, purges, diuretics, hot yoga, and long cardio sessions break down muscle and fat alike, leaving women with little strength left in their bodies.
With little fat and no muscle mass, women become weak, unstable, and more easily exploitable. Underweight women are at a considerable disadvantage when faced with physical violence from healthy men. Calorie-starved women also lose the physical stamina of their well-fed male colleagues. Dizzy, shaky, stressed-out, and constantly tired from starvation, these women are artificially disadvantaged in the workplace where their male colleagues can work harder, longer, and with fewer mistakes simply by having a body that they are allowed to care for. Women are also handicapped in their personal lives, where they don’t have the resilience to stick up for themselves. Men can get their way simply by being stubborn and waiting for woman to give up in exhaustion. [Thanks to Adria]
- Privilege of Default Gender – Men are considered by society to be the default gender. Men are rarely ever targeted, stereotyped, or held liable because of their gender. Men are simply seen as human. This default status is the mental framework used by society to ignore male privilege and male favoritism. Women, on the other hand, are seen as the exception to the all the male-centric norms of society. Gender stereotypes are the groundwork for the perception of any woman.
- Privilege of Unquestioned Majority– Despite being only half of the population, men are treated as if they were the only gender on the planet. Nearly all institutions of power everywhere are run by supermajorities of men. In the US, men have supermajorities in all state legislatures, run 80% of congress, have a 2/3 majority on the Supreme Court, and account for 100% of presidents. This unquestioned majority extends to all facets of society, from medicine (where men also make up the majority of research subjects for medicines and procedures that are also used on women) to mass media (where men are wildly overrepresented in everything from TV, to books, to movies, to video game protagonists).
Men can assume to speak for the majority, and their declarations are automatically assumed as having the backing of the majority. And this huge inequality is not regarded as being unfair by society.
Women, despite being 50% of the population, are almost never given equal representation anywhere. They are treated as a “niche audience” by corporations, and regarded as exceptional members of any group rather than the average that they really are. Any attempts to advocate for equal representation of women is regarded as unorthodox and reactionary, and any woman who complains will be accused of “self-interest”. This unequal representation is so normalized that any woman even applying for a leadership role is regarded as exceptional or aberrant, and even basic attempts to balance the system (such as the Equal Rights Amendment in the US) have gotten shot down by a false male supermajority used to having unquestioned rule over the other half of the population.
- Privilege of Majority Ownership – Men have used their position as the unquestioned majority in society to give themselves the overwhelming majority of resources, from government grants to investment capital, to getting paid a bigger salary even when working the exact same job as a woman. Whenever any resource is distributed along gender lines, it is common for more than 50% of that resource to go to men without question. Even when it is just for more than 50% of a resource to go to women (for example, money spent on domestic violence programs) any distributions that give more resources to women than men will be regarded as unjust and unorthodox. Society also views husbands as emasculated when their wife earns more than them.
- Privilege of Women’s Invisibility – When convenient, men can treat women as if they don’t even exist. Men use this privilege to take credit and praise for women’s work, to claim opportunities and resources for themselves by ignoring competition from women, and to ensure that crimes against women remain unsolved and undocumented. Men also use “gender blindness” to ignore the oppression of women altogether. As such, any attempt to fight the abuse and oppression of women will be dismissed unless men are similarly oppressed, at which point aiding the oppressed men will get priority.
- Primacy of Men’s Comfort – From planning family vacations to, the design of public bathrooms, to deciding what distant suburb to live in, most decisions are ultimately decided with regards to men’s comfort levels at the expense of women. Even decisions made for women’s safety must not infringe upon men’s comfort levels. Women must make whatever personal and financial sacrifices are necessary to meet the decisions arrived at by men. All attempts at ending the abuse and oppression of women will be vehemently opposed if they inhibit men’s comfort levels in any way.
- Freedom From Harassment – Men can expect less hassle from their fellow men. Men can enjoy crude humor, that it will almost never be viciously or cruelly aimed at their gender. Men’s bodies are also not aggressively sexualized. Men can expect to not be sexually harassed at work or on the street, to not worry about eating phallic-looking foods in front of others, to legally remove their shirts in public. [Thanks to Anonymous]
- Privilege of Not Being Corrected – Men are given great allowances to pacify their egos in our society, from not being told when they are wrong, to silent acceptance of odious eccentricities. For women, the bruising of a man’s ego is a faux pas that must be avoided, even if it means silencing their own points of view. Any women who publicly corrects a man is regarded as bitchy or aggressive. [HT to Twisty]
- Privilege of Safe Sex – Men are the initiators of sex, and can enjoy sexual privacy and no liability for their sexual history. Even Hugh Hefner’s sex is private when he wants it to be. In contrast, women are the targets of sexual advances, bear the entire burden of contraception and pregnancy, risk having their nude photos made public, and are judged based on men’s sexual perception of them. [Thanks to Anonymous]
- Privilege to Speak – From blogging, to politics, to stand-up comedy, men have the privilege to speak publicly, with authority, and without harassment for doing so. From birth, men are taught to speak with authority, and that their words have value. From birth, women are taught to speak with deference, to let men interrupt, to not interrupt while men are speaking, to accept verbal abuse without complaint, and to be quiet in general. Men expect women to listen to them at all times, even if said women are their bosses or are busy doing something else. Women’s voices are dismissed as irritating, and women who speak for themselves in public, or who publicly contradict men, are met with hostility from society. [Thanks to wiggles]
- Privilege of Mansplaining – An extension of the Male Privilege to Define Everything and the Male Privilege to Speak, men can expect women to be a compliant audience to any declarations they may have. Even if it is in a field that the woman knows better, and even if the man doesn’t know what he is talking about, any attempt by women to interrupt, correct, or end the conversation will be seen as rude.
The Male Privilege of Mansplaining is often reinforced in movies: whenever a male character tells a female character what will happen to her in the future (or what she is really like deep down) it is almost never wrong. As far as Hollywood is concerned, mansplaining in movies is akin to a voice of prophecy.
- Privilege to End Debate – Men can use their privilege of speech to restrict the speech of others. Fathers traditionally hold the power to “put their foot down” and end family discussions at a whim, and men can declare conversations with female relations to be over at any time. In contrast, women who disengage from men are seen as cold and rude, and women who try to continue a conversation after a man has disengaged, or when a man doesn’t want to talk, will be regarded as “nagging bitches”. Online, men can expect to disengage from most heated discussions with civility, while women have to fear stalking and harassment campaigns.
- Privilege of Having No Privileges – When the abuse of male privilege becomes uncomfortable for men, they can choose to be oblivious of their privilege. Men can choose to be oblivious of some or all of their privileges, as is convenient. Men can claim parity where none exists, claim oppression whenever it is useful, and deflect any resentment which might impinge upon their social status. Men can oppose sexism one day, and ignore it the next day without any consequence.
Men can even blame women for the harms they suffer under male privilege. By claiming that women “have it easy”, then accusing women of “playing the victim card” or being a “professional victim”, men can force legitimate critics or victims of their privilege into silence.
[Thanks to Varnish Eater, acidbill]
- Privilege of Safety – Men don’t live their entire lives in fear. There is no gender terrorism for men. Men can risk dropping their guard, leaving their drink unattended at a party, having first-dates meet at their house, or being alone at night. [Thanks to Anonymous]
- The Inviolate Male Body – A man’s body is his castle. Men enjoy the sovereignty of self. They can expect to not be physically violated when attacked, and to not have their bodies controlled by government legislation.
- Privilege of Space – All spaces are by default men’s spaces. Men can establish male-only spaces in their homes, clubs, entertainment venues, online forums, etc. without complaint, and can demand entry into almost all ‘women-only’ spaces.
- Privilege of Personal Space – Men can expect privacy and lots of personal space around them when in public. Men can also intrude upon a woman’s personal space whenever they want. When walking down the street, men can expect women to get out of their way.
- Only Male Attributes Are Valued – Even in fiction (TV, video games, movies, books, etc.), the vast majority of all protagonists in stories are male, while female characters are much more likely to be secondary characters or villains. This is because masculinity is revered in our society, while femininity is reviled.
- Privilege of Network – Relations among men are valued by society more than relations between men and women or relations among women. From finding new clients, to nepotism, to inside jobs, men can trust their networks to help them out, and to gang up and push out female rivals.
- Privilege of Harassment – Men can be disgusting, obnoxious, hyperbolic, belittling, dismissive, threatening, and even act violent towards women with little consequence. If a woman tries to confront a man’s behavior, he can always claim that his harassment was “a joke”, and counter with the claim that she should “toughen up”. At this point, society will become hostile towards the victim until she backs down, apologizes for questioning the man, and acquiesces to the harassment.
- Privilege of Failure – From breaking household appliances to restarting careers, men are given the security to try, fail, and try again, without it reflecting poorly on them or on men in general.
- Privilege of Mediocrity – When convenient, men can wallow in the pitifully low standards set for men’s behavior with little repercussion. Whether in the office, at home, or online, men can expect praise for mundane accomplishments. Stupid or ignorant mistakes made by men are also judged far less harshly than for women. Men who act like fools, class clowns, or trolls are also tolerated, with few consequences for misbehaving. In contrast, women get a lot more harassment and chiding for foolishness, even if it is in jest. And any substandard performance is typically generalized to reflect badly on all women.
- Privilege to Celebrate – Only men’s victories are celebrated in public, and the majority of people at these victory celebrations are men. Men are also allowed to be “rowdy” and violent when celebrating.
- Privilege of Judgments Not Made on Appearance – Most male “morning dress routines” can be measured by an egg timer. Men’s clothes “say” little about them, they’re not required to use potentially toxic makeup or hair products on a daily basis, don’t have to stay on potentially dangerous prescriptions if they have chronic acne, don’t have dangerous and unnecessary cosmetic surgeries suggested to them, and can be a normal, healthy body weight (or even have some flab, gasp!) without getting hell from peers for “letting themselves go”. Men don’t even have to shave their faces, let alone de-hair their entire bodies.
The societal demands placed on women are the exact opposite; which results in shattered self-esteem for most women and even young girls, hours of lost productivity, rampant anorexia and bulimia, and routine starvation diets for many more. And if a woman tires to opt-out of the myriad of strict standards for femininity, society will think far less of them, and will impose social (and even monetary) penalties for their transgression. While attractive people of both sexes typically earn more money, unattractive women have the worst time on the job market.
- Privilege of Control – Men are allowed to co-opt control of anything that a woman controls, whenever they want it. This is especially true in the domestic sphere, where men are allowed to make the choices for their wives and daughters. Men are also not responsible for anything that they do not want control of. This behavior is excused as part of men’s “natural leadership qualities”, and is never seen as rude or obnoxious by the larger society. [Thanks to Lilithc]
- Privilege of Practical Clothing – It is normal for men to be comfortable and mobile when dressed. Women’s fashion is impractically expensive, time-consuming, and deliberately inhibits comfort, mobility, and safety. Utilitarianism is seen as a virtue in men, while women who forgo impractical clothing or embrace utilitarianism are chided for “letting themselves go”.
- Privilege of Having Potential – Men’s work is valued. Men take it as a given that they will be rewarded for working hard and following the rules. At the same time, men are given many more opportunities to be successful and are praised more than women when they succeed. Women’s accomplishments (outside of their “natural role” of childbearing and child rearing) are routinely marginalized, dismissed, or ignored.
- Privilege of Baby Einsteins – Boys are valued more than girls. Society spends more time, attention, and resources on boys than on girls. Throughout the world, the parents of a girl are more likely to divorce than the parents of a boy. Divorced women with girls are substantially less likely to remarry than divorced women with boys. Parents of girls are also much more likely to try for another child than parents of boys.
- Privilege of Scions – Heirs to power and property are almost entirely male and have been for thousands of years. Heiresses are few and far between, and are typically reviled. The tendency for men to be primary inheritors is symbolized and extolled in marriage, where it is expected that men will keep their last names, and that women will lose theirs.
- Privilege of Women’s Labor – From keeping house, to raising children, to “PHT Degrees”, to uncredited “office housework”, women’s unpaid and undervalued labor is the foundation for the easy lives of men.
[Thanks to fff, acidbill]
- Privilege of Boys Can be Boys – Young boys are typically given the freedom to play and be a child, while young girls typically do household chores. Even into young adulthood, men are allowed to get away with a lot more, “in the name of fun” than women can. The innocence of boys is also socially protected, while 54% of girls will be sexually abused before adulthood.
- Privilege of Time – Even in our 24/7 connected world, men in general have more unstructured and leisure time than women, and can expect compensation when their free time is impinged. In contrast, women are still burdened with the vast majority of unpaid domestic responsibilities. Even when sick or coming off a full work shift, women are expected to be entirely devoted to the needs of their household, lest they be chided for being bad mothers.
- Privilege of Career – Men are expected to have a career, while women are expected to sacrifice their careers in order to care for a man and raise his family. Myths about incompetence during pregnancy are still used to discriminate against women in the workforce. And once a child is born, inflexible office hours (or penalizing workers who use flex time), the lack of daycare, and the (quite common) lack of spousal support at home all fight against a mother’s career ambitions.
Not that childless women have it much easier: men are more likely to get hired and promoted in any given job than a woman regardless of her situation, and women are still expected to do office homework and take care of the men in the office. This favoritism towards men compounds over the course of a career, and increases as the job becomes more prestigious.
[Thanks to Alas, a blog]
- Privilege of Men in Business – Although women make up almost half of America’s labor force, in 2005 only 8 Fortune 500 companies have women CEOs or presidents, 67 of those 500 companies don’t have any women corporate officers, and the numbers are getting worse.
- Privilege of Men in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) – Men are seen as having automatic ability in STEM fields, and are encouraged to explore them. Meanwhile, women are actively discouraged from these fields. Men’s achievements are widely celebrated in STEM fields, while women’s work is undervalued and discrimination runs rampant. Women make up less than half of all scientists and engineers in the US, and less than one-third of all doctorate and professional degree holders in STEM fields.
[Thanks to RedComet]
- Privilege of Wealth – Women make up half the world’s population, 70% of the world’s poor are women. And even at the top, in industrialized countries, when working at the exact same jobs with identical qualifications, men on average still make 22% more than women.
- Privilege of Family Fortunes – 90% of the world’s billionaires are men, and they didn’t get there by chance.
- All Things Designed By Men, For Men – Everything from car seats, to drugs, to women’s fashions are designed around men’s desires. Men’s bodies are the default template for all designed products, and the male body is the default Homo Sapien studied in medical centers. Men’s needs are the only requirements for a design (as an example, try using an iPhone with very long nails).
- Privilege of Tech – When growing up, boys get more time on family computers, more access to technology and the internet, less harassment online, and are given more opportunities to become tech-saavy. This advantage feeds into the stereotype that men are naturally good with technology, while women are inept. Yet despite these stereotypes, women still make up the majority of Internet consumers and dominate the enormous “casual” gaming market. However, misogyny still dominates all aspects of the tech industry. In the gaming industry alone, yearly tent pole releases of AAA tiles are full of sexist depictions of women, degrading stereotypes, and glorified sexualized violence against women.
- Privilege of Internet Presence – Even though more people use the web to buy greeting cards than porn, everyone assumes that the primary use of the web is pornography. The Internet has been claimed by popular culture to be a giant men’s club, where men can harass, intimidate, and drive women off of the web with impunity.
- Privilege of Women’s Intellect – Men can claim the best ideas and creations from women with little to no resistance. Plagiarism laws protect men’s work more than women’s work. When a man finds something for the first time, even if a woman found it first, he can lay claim to “first discovering” it with little fear of correction. Women who complain about this are castigated for being sensitive or “petty”.
[Thanks to Lilithc]
- Privilege of Trophy Wives – Using ritualized male privilege to enslave young women and marginalized older women.
- Privilege of Good Medicine – Men get the best medical care and the majority of medical research dollars. For example, on a dollars-per-death basis, N.C.I. funds prostate cancer research at about 80% of the funding for breast cancer, despite the fact that nearly twice as many women will die of breast cancer. Meanwhile, women are ignored in clinical research and fields that exclusively treat women (such as gynaecology) are sidelined by modern medicine. The result is that many women-only conditions (outside of infertility) lack the body of research needed for effective diagnosis and treatment. This leads to women having their conditions not recognized as legitimate diseases, or being over-diagnosed with psychological issues instead of legitimate pain. Even when properly diagnosed, women often have to cope with harsher, less effective treatments that were never properly tested for women, with worse prognoses than should be tolerated by modern medicine. And this is before we even consider the marginalization of women’s reproductive healthcare into clinics that are separate from primary healthcare facilities, buried in red tape, and attacked by misogynistic domestic terrorists.
- Privilege of Labor – High paying labor-intensive jobs that do not require advanced degrees are all rife with misogyny and dominated by men. If any field becomes dominated by women, the work becomes underpaid and undervalued.
- Privilege to Be Unattached – Men can be single well into their 30’s and no one notices. Men also get far less harassment if they choose not to have kids. It is also acceptable for men to remain “bachelors for life” (although most eventually opt for the male privileges inherent in marriage). Women are under fierce pressure to get married and have kids sooner rather than later.
[Thanks to Anonymous]
- Privilege to Grow Old – Men can go gray, get fat, or age in any way they wish. For men, aging confers wisdom, respect, and/or “character”. Women get belittled as they grow older. They are under constant pressure to do whatever it takes, including surgery, to remain “young-looking”. Anything less, and a woman is admonished for “letting herself go”.
[Thanks to Debi Crow]
- Privilege of Hair – Men can have hair, on their heads or body, and do not have to take care of it. Women are seen as lazy, unhygienic, and disgusting if they do not remove or arduously style all the hair on their bodies. Men are allowed to be bald, whereas women must use wigs.
[Thanks to RedComet]
- Women Expected to Please Men – Men can expect smiles from all women at all times. Men expect women to drop what they are doing and be attentive to men while they are talked at. Women’s political views are seen as playthings for men to move around at will.
[Thanks to Flyinfur]
- Privilege to Eat – The consumption of food (especially desirable foods like deserts, alcohol, and meat) is only socially acceptable for men. As adolescents, boys are encouraged to eat, while girls are discouraged from eating. This lack of adequate nutrition results in girl’s growth being stunted in childhood, which has led to the false belief that women are “naturally” smaller than men.
- Privilege of Selective Misogyny – Also known as “benevolent sexism”, men can choose not to exercise male privilege over a particular woman at any time, as a reward for approved behavior, or for simple convenience. Men can selectively favor women, and decide which women deserve consideration/rights/empathy as is convenient to them. Men can also take away such favors and reassert their privilege at any time. This holding back of oppression is erroneously called “women’s privilege” by misogynists.
[Thanks to Varnish Eater]
- Privilege of Cool Toys – Male-coded toys (whether video games for kids, or cars and smartphones for adults) are of higher quality and more diverse than female-coded toys. Female-coded toys have cheaper construction or are designed to train girls for domestic service and femininity.
- Privilege of Video Games – Despite the rise of female and casual gamers, the AAA video game industry and gaming spaces online still almost exclusively cater to young men. Women who wish play games must contend with loads of casual sexism, routine and flippant depictions of rape and sexualized violence against women, and a culture of sexual harassment and misogyny in online gaming communities.
- Privilege of Sports – Sports have long been used to reinforce the gender binary, and the gender segregation of sports has been unequal from the beginning. The vast majority of money, resources and media attention have been given to male sports teams, even when female sports teams do better or have stronger fan bases. Sports culture in general is also quite hostile to women, with game days leading to spikes in rapes and the abuse of women, and male players able to commit rape with impunity while their victims are terrorized.
- The Privilege of Vocabulary – The very dictionary is stacked in white men’s favor. Words that reference a group of people typically default to a male noun (chairman, mankind, you guys, etc.). Language makes it easy for any man to lash out at women, while the words needed to retaliate against men do not exist.
[Thanks to Jezebella]
- The Privilege of Guns – Men are expected to know how to handle a gun. Boys are taught how to shoot from an early age by fathers and peers. AirSoft, paintball, laser tag, first-person shooter video games, army training, and all other gun-based social settings are regarded as realms for boys and men. Women are regarded as transgressors in these spaces, and face social harassment and violence if they try to participate. And even when women do get access to guns, they are typically steered towards shittier, misfire-prone weapons that will not stop an attacker under the guise that they are “lighter weight” and “better suited to women’s smaller hands”.
Even in cases where women have decent guns, there is a strict social hierarchy and power dynamic in place around them: whatever gun a woman has, her male relations will typically have better guns or more guns, and will be better trained with them than she is. Exceptions to this dynamic are treated as aberrant and can expose the woman and her male relations to ridicule.
- The Privilege of Pleasure – Entire industries, from the benign to the barbaric, revolve around men’s physical pleasure. Men’s physical pleasure is lauded my the media and condoned by moralists. In contrast, women’s physical pleasure is either demonized or denied to exist in the first place. Women are expected to please men, and are expected to only receive physical gratification within the context of (serving) men’s physical pleasure. Even then, any problems that women experience from vaginal sex (such as pain or infections) are ignored by modern medicine and left largely untreatable.
- Privilege of Mobility – Men are given the freedom to see the world. Men can travel by themselves, move their residence wherever they want, and take traveling jobs (such as couriers and seamen) while leaving women behind to care for their family and children. Women are forbidden from traveling by themselves, under the pretense that doing so is too dangerous for them.
- Privilege of Passivity – With their lives relatively safe, free from negative judgments, and with the expectation for women to take care of them, men have the freedom to be passive, and are unaccountable for their passivity.
- Privilege to Say “No!” – When a man says “no”, it is accepted as final. When a woman says “no”, it is seen by men as a challenge, and its utterance is interpreted as the start of negotiations toward an inevitable “yes”.
[Thanks to Daisy P]
- Privilege of Anger Men are not only given more leeway to express anger, but they are also taken more seriously when they do. Men’s anger is typically regarded as coming from a place of strength, while women’s anger is typically regarded as hysteria. An angry man is more likely to persuade people around him, while an angry woman is more likely to draw opposition from peers.
- Privilege to be an Outsider – Men are given the latitude and relative safety to reject social mandates. Men can say no to their families, ignore popular culture, reject social norms, and plow their own course in life. Counter-cultures cater to men, and form safe places and support structures for men. For women, the consequences of disobeying society and family are much harsher. Society is much more dangerous for lone women as well. Counter-cultures rarely offer a similar level of safety and autonomy to women, and in many cases are hostile to them.
* THE NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES OF MALE PRIVILEGE ARE NOT NEARLY AS HORRIBLE FOR MEN AS THEY ARE FOR WOMEN, BUT THEY DO EXIST, OCCASIONALLY.
[NOTE: Due to the extreme length of this post, comments have been moved to another page. Please direct all questions, comments, and contributions to the List of Male Privileges FAQ Page.]