What is Male Privilege?
The death of Sarah Everard in March 2021 led to a bigger discussion on top of the one that has been going on for many years surrounding male privilege and women's safety. It is important to note that by male privilege I do not mean that every man's life has been easy because we all know that is not the case. However, what I do mean by that is that men have a certain privilege over women regarding what they do not need to think about or consider when thinking about their own safety and general day-to-day lives. But what really is male privilege?
Male privilege is this idea that because someone is born a man, they are immediately put on a higher pedestal, so to speak, than those who are not male. They have less worry about someone making sexist remarks, not being able to go to certain places, walking around at night, what they wear, how high up they can go in the workplace, and that's just to name a few. By using the word privilege, it does not mean that just because someone is a man means they are privileged in every single aspect of their life because we all know that is not the case. It just means that they are privileged in terms of their gender.
Above I mentioned a few examples of what male privilege is and also briefly mentioned the Sarah Everard case. As a woman, I am fed up with feeling I have to accommodate what I do in order to suit men. I am fed up with being told that I should wear sensible footwear that I can easily run away in to escape a man who may be after me. I am fed up with having to lock my car the second I am in it in case a man tries to get inside my car, either whilst I am still in the car park or when stuck in traffic. I am fed up with being told I am 'asking for it' when I go out wearing a low-cut top and/or a short skirt/dress. I am fed up with not being able to listen to music or a podcast when out on my own as I need to be on alert at all times, as otherwise I am apparently seen as an easy target for men. There are so many things I feel I have to be aware of or remember to do just so something doesn't happen to me. How many men also have to be aware of these things?
Male privilege isn't just about not having to worry about their safety because of their gender. There are so many other objectives that factor into this too. For example, the Votes for Women movement. Women across the world had to fight for their right just to have a say in how their country is run. In the UK, women first got the right to vote in 1918, but even then it was only a certain group of women that could vote as the Government still didn't want women to have the same influence as men on political matters. From 1918, it was only women who were over the age of thirty with a qualification/who was a graduate, despite the fact that men could vote once they were twenty-one and didn't have to have any qualifications. We only had the equal right as men to vote in 1928. As of 2021, there are still twice as many men as women involved in politics and we have only had two female Prime Ministers, with four of the eleven political parties being led by women, with one of those (Green Party of England and Wales) being a jobshare between a man and a woman. I would love to see more women being represented in parliament and feel that as there is a large male majority currently involved in politics, this shows male privilege as not only have men always had the right to vote in one way or another, they have also always been allowed to be involved in politics - something women had to fight for many decades to get the right to do.
Another issue surrounding male privilege is the gender pay gap. Over the last few years, this pay gap has become progressively smaller, however, it is still there and is much wider in many industries. For example, a lot more men than women seem to hold senior positions in companies, and the fact that women are more likely to choose a lower-paying job, such as working in childcare or as a carer, due to these types of jobs having more flexibility with their hours than higher-paying jobs. I have recently completed an undergraduate degree in early childhood and those who work in the early years sector are currently paid less than those working in McDonald's, and what's even more interesting is that this industry has a 96% female workforce. Another example is that nurses are stereotypically seen as women (even though a man can also be a nurse) and they get paid a lot less than doctors, who are stereotypically seen as men (but women can be doctors too). I'm not completely saying that these roles are paid a lot less due to them being both stereotypically and majoritively made up of women, as I also believe it is partly due to a lack of understanding around what these jobs actually involve. Why should men be more privileged in their pay and why don't women get the same pay for doing the same jobs? I do believe it is due to the old view that men are the breadwinners and women are the caregivers, which suggests that men should be in the higher-paying jobs to provide for their family and that women should be in the caregiver roles as this is 'what they were born to do'. Women were born to be so much more than just caregivers and it's about time society recognised that.
There are a lot of factors within society that favours men over women. I really hope to see a change in society during my lifetime that involves equal opportunities for both men and women and a world where women don't have to worry about being harmed due to their gender. I know that men aren't privileged in all aspects of their life, but it is about time that men recognised that, at the very least, they are privileged because of their gender. Men are privileged because they don't have to worry about their safety due to their gender. Men are privileged because they have always had the right to vote. Men are privileged because they have better chances of being in higher-paid roles. Men are privileged because they don't have to worry about being paid less when doing the same job as a woman. Men are privileged just for being men.
Love Beth xx