What would you do if I told you that:
~ you haven’t earned all your achievements?
~ compared to others in society you’ve actually got it easy?
~ your struggles and challenges were insignificant?
Well, I’m not going to tell you that your struggles and challenges are insignificant – because the times we’re living in are difficult for everyone.
And I know that you’ve worked hard for what you’ve earned and life hasn’t always been easy for you. But, we live in an oppressive biased society, and some people have it easier than others.
White people, for example. I remember first learning about “white privilege” and definitely resisting this idea. I worked hard at school, through university, and in my professional life. Really hard. I definitely have earned the right to feel proud of my academic and professional successes.
However, I am still willing to recognise that being white has made things way easier for me than if I’d been born black.
But what I want to talk about today is male privilege. And this one’s more obvious to me since I don’t have it.
Now when I admit to myself that I have white privilege, I don’t see myself as a bad person. I don’t totally discredit my own challenges and achievements. I simply acknowledged this to myself and I am in fact quite grateful for the ease this has afforded me. It’s shitty that that’s the way it is, but that’s the way it is. I don’t accept blame about it, but I can admit it. The next step is then to ask myself, “how can I use my white privilege to support those who don’t have it”, and “how can I do this without perpetuating oppression”.
So men, having male privilege, aren’t bad people and they haven’t done anything wrong, they’re simply a product of our society.
So guys, here's just a few ways you can recognise whether you have male privilege (ladies, I encourage you to show this to the men in your life):
1. You can walk down a public street without the fear of sexual assault.
Now I’ve walked down plenty of dark public streets with no issue, but with this often in the back of my mind (even though most sexual assault is perpetrated by someone the victim knows personally).
2. When you learn about history, science, exploration etc. you mainly hear stories about people of your gender.
My Aunties are Irish and I grew up with the historical stories of the persecution and burning of witches, mostly because of their gender. We never learnt about this at school.
3. You went through adolescence learning that having lots of sex with different girls would be celebrated.
I went through adolescence being told that if you had lots of sex you were a slut and that girls needed to be strong enough to say NO. I knew several girls who were raped at parties. The girl might have been drunk, or flirting, or wearing a short skirt – there was no proof, no one would have believed her, and she likely would have gotten blamed for the whole thing. It was traumatic for them and traumatic for me as a friend – we weren’t strong enough to say NO. Why should we have to be?
4. Your suitability for any job has never been called into question
I put my hand up for a different role once and the conversation between the two men in the office (talking to each other, not to me) went like this, “do we want a woman working in there”. I repeat, with me in the room.
5. You could pursue a career in politics, medicine, or law and immediately fit in to the “boys club”. No-one will comment on your appearance or dress sense. The jobs most typical to your gender are generally paid more. You are more likely to be seen as suitable for leadership positions.
I started out studying investment banking and was sometimes one of 5 girls in a lecture hall of 600. Bankers a mostly male and they get paid big bucks. Having since studied education and social work, I have been part of the majority of females. The minority of male students in these professions are still more likely to be given the higher paid leadership roles.
6. If you have children you would never been seen as selfish or as a bad parent if you continue to work full-time. You’ve probably never even considered that having children might affect your ability to pursue your career.
I don’t have children. But I’m passionate about my work. I seriously consider how having kids might affect my career.
When you hear someone talk about Rite of Passage programs you immediately think about boys becoming men.
In Indigenous societies Rite of Passage programs for girls were seen as equally important. They focused more on developing intuition than on physical challenges.
An effective Rite of Passage will help your daughter transition from girl to healthy and responsible adult.
Click HERE for more info about Radiant Woman: A Mother Daughter Rite of Passage Retreat