Don’t Think Male Privilege Exists?
Have seat. Let me buy you a drink.
I started going to concerts by myself a few years ago. My ex-husband was not a big fan of live music and had to get up early in the morning on the weekends. We also had very different tastes in music. It meant that if I wanted to see a band I liked, odds were I was going to have to go by myself.
It never seemed like a big deal.
Of course, there was the one evening that my ex and I went out for a glass of wine before I headed to a concert. We ended up in a conversation with the couple sitting next to us at the bar. When discussion turned to the fact that I would be headed out to a show and my ex would be heading home, the husband noted it “sure was nice he lets you do things like that.”
After I got divorced I decided I was going to take as many opportunities to live my life as I possibly could. It involves a lot of concerts. It meant flying all the way across the country year ago to go to a music festival in Savannah, Georgia. By myself. I loved every minute of it.
Going to concerts by myself changed when I got divorced. When I would go to a show by myself as a married woman I still had that wedding ring on. There was a layer of protection I had with that.
If a woman is wearing a wedding ring out in public, there’s a good chance that somewhere in the room there is going to be a man that has a ring that matches.
Once the ring came off, I was not only unattached but I was by myself. It changes the landscape.
Last night, I went alone to a show that was general admission. It’s a really small venue in Phoenix that books some pretty great artists. I’ve seen a lot of shows there and I’m pretty comfortable with the venue. It doesn’t hurt that the people that like the kind of music I like tend to be good people.
I was standing next to a guy last night and we were about the second or third row from the front. I wanted to get a beer but I didn’t want to lose my spot so I asked him if he could hold it for me. He happily agreed and in exchange I asked if he wanted a beer while I was at the bar.
When I came back, I gave him his beer and he thanked me. Right before the main act, he asked if I would hold his beer while he went to the bathroom.
It hit me like a ton of bricks the moment that he left.
If you don’t believe that male privilege exists this is its exact definition:
Not only did he have no qualms about accepting an open can of beer from a stranger, he had no problem leaving that open can of beer with me while he left the room entirely.
As a woman, I would never accept an open beverage from anyone I don’t know very well. Never would I leave my drink in someone else’s care.
I think a lot of men don’t understand privilege because they don’t understand the entire concept of being afraid to turn your eyes away from a drink. The fact that someone could put something in your drink is not a real fear or suspicion that exists in the mind of most men.
My best friend and I were having a conversation about how her fears, in relation to her daughters, are completely different than her husband’s.
He is far more easy-going as a parent. He worries much less. She, on the other had, has a deeper acknowledgment of what fears exists out there in the world that her husband doesn’t seem to understand.
A lot of men won’t necessarily understand why their daughter wants them to go with her into a convenience store because there’s three guys standing outside. Because three guys standing outside the convenience store doesn’t necessarily make a man uncomfortable.
Do you see how easy that is? As women, we’re afraid. A lot. It may seem trivial to men. But that’s just privilege talking.
Privilege involves having something bestowed upon you that you don’t even necessarily realize you have. In this case, it’s an absence of fear.
Privilege doesn’t have to mean something grandiose or subversive. It doesn’t have to carry a stigma. Having it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. No one is asking men to give up the privilege of accepting an open beer from a stranger.
What we are asking is that you acknowledge the fact that women don’t get something you get by virtue of the fact that we’re different genders. The next step is to fix it.