Having male privilege is like riding a bicycle with the wind always at your back. You didn’t do anything to earn it. You didn’t ask for it. Yet there it is, everywhere you go, always helping you out. It’s there you’re whole life if you’re a man, and it’s so normal, that unless you make a really conscious effort, you won’t even notice it. Even if you do make a really conscious effort, it’s hard to notice it.
Since the internet loves lists, there is of course a Checklist of Male Privilege to help out with that. In case you are wondering, the list, despite being really long, is not exhaustive.
15. When I ask to see “the person in charge,” odds are I will face a person of my own sex. The higher-up in the organization the person is, the surer I can be.
When someone says “Check your privilege” what they mean is, notice the wind at your back, notice how it’s helped you, and notice that it has not helped everyone equally. Notice, in fact, that the hidden advantages you have not asked for or earned but nonetheless get harm other classes of people. (There are many kinds of privilege, but since my focus is feminism I focus on male privilege).
Nine times out of ten (statistic provided by the Bureau of Statistics Made Up on the Spot) when a woman talks to a dude, and the dude completely does not get it (it being some issue specific to the woman’s lived experience) it’s due to male privilege. A dude trying to “get it” would do well to think about privilege.
When I say think about privilege I do not mean sit around feeling guilty. When men exercise their male privilege it harms women, and once a man becomes aware of that, it’s understandable he might be somewhat bummed. Conversely when men sit around feeling guilty about exercising male privilege it doesn’t help women. What does help women is when men take action to actively give up their privilege. Learning that privilege exists is a good first step.
Knowing, as the poet said, is half the battle.