Tag Archives: male privilege

My, My! I Think I Hit a Sore Spot

Yesterday, I pointed to a very bipartisan problem: the under-representation of women candidates slated to run for Indianapolis City-County Council (not helped by the “dumping” by each party of an incumbent female). Several commenters–all, I should note, men–protested via twitter that gender had nothing to do with the slating decisions.

As I responded to one of them, I’m sure that’s true–consciously. Neither party deliberately slighted women candidates, or intentionally applied different standards to male and female incumbents.

The key word is “intentional.”

In 1990, Wellesley College professor Peggy McIntosh wrote an essay about White Privilege, in which she observed that whites in the U.S. are taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on any particular group.

Men also tend to be unaware of their own privileges as men. See “The Male Privilege Checklist” for a rundown of unconscious assumptions that are true for men but not women.

A few of the 45 items on that checklist are particularly relevant here:

If I seek political office, my relationship with my children, or who I hire to take care of them, will probably not be scrutinized by the press.

Chances are my elected representatives are mostly people of my own sex. The more prestigious and powerful the elected position, the more likely this is to be true.

I can be loud with no fear of being called a shrew. I can be aggressive with no fear of being called a bitch.

My post yesterday was about those “invisible systems conferring dominance” and the systemic (albeit largely unconscious) attitudes those systems foster. Most of the women who commented “got it.”  A number of the men, didn’t.

I rest my case.