Redefining White Male Privilege So White Men Don’t Get Upset

I made a conscious choice to stay away from the Kavanagh hearings, given the toxicity of the political climate. But recently, I’ve had a few dispiriting conversations with friends who were upset with the concepts of white privilege and male privilege and I wanted to share them with you here.

The term “white privilege” FEELS very insulting to a man suffering from poor health, poor lifestyle choices, poor job opportunities, etc. The assertion that “white men” are the problem and their “privilege” allows them to lead perfect, carefree lives seems tone-deaf to the vast majority of white men who struggle in some ways. These guys find the terminology and blanket attacks on “whites” and “men” to be tone-deaf and off-base. And for political purposes, I agree. You’re not convincing any white men of the righteousness of your cause if you constantly attack white men. 🙂

However, when I dug deeper in conversations with my moderately conservative friends, they completely agreed that both women and minorities have a tougher go of things. They will never know what it’s like to be concerned with safety in a parking lot or what it’s like to have a taxi refuse to pick them up because of their skin color.

Which means that these white men are not in denial of “white male privilege,” but rather, disagree with its judgmental nomenclature. In fact, they’d back the concept completely if it was framed as “women and minority disadvantage” because it would acknowledge the broader societal unfairness without tarring all white men as part of the problem.

I agree with this from a branding standpoint for the social justice/identity politics left. You don’t get any closer to peace when you treat people as “others” or “enemies.” Telling underprivileged people that they are privileged is bound to hit a raw nerve – and lose you some pretty important elections.

On the other hand, I feel very strongly about sharing this video with the men who read this blog, who should learn similar sensitivity and empathy for women as I’m asking women to have for men. This song is called “A Scary Time,” and I was touched by its simplicity, eloquence and power. The lyrics (by Lynzy Lab) are below.

[Verse 1]
I can’t walk to my car late at night while on the phone
I can’t open up my windows when I’m home alone
I can’t go to the bar without a chaperone
I can’t wear a mini-skirt if it’s the only one I own
I can’t use public transportation after 7pm
I can’t be brutally honest when you slide into my DMs
I can’t go to the club just to dance with my friends
And I can’t ever leave my drink unattended

[Chorus]
But it sure is a scary time for boys
Yeah, gentlemen band together make some noise
It’s really tough when your reputation’s on the line
And any woman you’ve assaulted could turn up any time
Yeah, it sure is a scary time for guys
Can’t speak to any woman or look her in the eyes
It’s so confusing, is it rape or is it just being nice?
So inconvenient that you even have to think twice

[Verse 2]
I can’t live in an apartment if it’s on the first floor
I can’t be wearing silk pajamas when I answer the door
I can’t have another drink even if I want more
And I can’t make you feel invalid, unseen, or ignored
I can’t jog around the city with headphones on my ears
I can’t speak out against my rapist after 35 years
I can’t be taken seriously if I’m holding back tears
And I can’t ever speak earnestly about all these fears

[Chorus]
Cause it sure is a scary time for dudes
Can’t text a girl repeatedly asking for nudes
Can’t make a girl have sex when she’s not in the mood
And what gives her the right to give you attitude?
Yeah it sure is a scary time for men
Girls like to act like you’re to blame and they’re the victim
Her dress was short and she was drunk she’s not so innocent
Thank God your dad’s the judge and you won’t be convicted

[Spoken]
Oh, that’s—oh that’s right
Oh, yeah yeah yeah

[Chorus]
Cause it’s not such a scary time for boys
They’ve always had the upper hand, they’ve always had a choice
It’s time for women to rise up, use our collective voice
The day to vote’s November 6th, so let’s go make some noise

Women come to this site to understand men. Men who are here should know: acknowledging women’s truths makes you MORE of a man, not less. Not to mention that makes you a much better partner than if you’re constantly blaming women for your dating woes.

Your thoughts, below, are always appreciated.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Clare

    This is such an interesting conversation for me because I am a white woman and I come from a country where white people are in a minority. We make up about 9% of South Africa’s population, and we are subject to a lot of the same accusations of white privilege that Evan is talking about in his post and that we see discussed everywhere. So it’s always interesting to me when Americans refer to “minorities,” because where I live, we are a minority.

    What makes it even more interesting is that, even being a minority, white people are openly discriminated against here. Companies big and small are subject to strict quotas which prevent them from hiring more than a certain very small number of white people. A huge number of white men in this country have started their own businesses because it’s the only way they can get jobs. The same quotas are imposed on sports teams. It is nearly impossible to get a bursary or scholarship to study in this country if you are white. Every new ANC government that we get talks openly about confiscating legally owned white land without compensation. The discrimination is very out in the open here; the U.N. has actually condemned the anti-white policies in this country, although that is not widely known.

    I offer this as another perspective to the notion of “white privilege.” It doesn’t take away from the fact that the majority of black people in this country live in poverty. It doesn’t take away from the fact that white people in this country are still, by and large, better educated and much better off financially than most black people.

    What makes me angry is that it shouldn’t be an “us versus them” thing. What makes me cross is that, in this country anyway, pushing white people down is seen as synonymous with raising black people up. And this is simply not the case at all. If that were the case, Zimbabwe (from which three quarters of the white people were driven) would be thriving, but it’s not. It’s a basket case.

    I wish we could find a way to accept and appreciate one another, help and learn from one another, rather than blame and seethe with resentment. I can’t stand it that we attack white men and white people in general. What does that solve? How does castigating white people and white men uplift anyone?

    I have thoughts on the male/female part of this post too, but I think that’s enough for now! I’m already getting emotional….

  2. 2
    Man Splainer

    The feminist movement has grown so out of control that I now have nothing to do with women. I’d rather forego relationships with women altogether than deal with the shaming, blaming and intimidation of the women’s movement. Men and women aren’t equal. Men built and maintained pretty much everything on the earth and still do. We didn’t need women’s permission to do it. We just did it. Society socially conditioned men to be the human sacrifices of women and the state in war as well. From now on, feminists should sacrifice other feminists, not men, for their own rights and privileges. Of course men rule. It would be unjust if women ruled.

    1. 2.1
      SparklingEmerald

      I’d rather forego relationships with women

      “Man Splainer” On behalf of most women, THANK YOU, for foregoing relationships with us.

    2. 2.2
      Jackie

      This is hate speech. Why is this allowed on here? Can you imagine if this poster was referring to an ethnic minority instead of women?

      1. 2.2.1
        Evan Marc Katz

        I’ve posted similar diatribes from women about men and I don’t recall any women claiming it was hate speech.

        1. AnonymousMan

          This woman calling it “hate speech” is the exact reason men are scared to approach women, afraid to make the move on dates as we are too afraid of being called a rapist if she says yes then regrets it a day or 2 later. Because of that, many men just ignore women because we (men) are #1 in suicides/work related deaths/military causalities/jail & prisons and so much more. All I can say is, go watch the [b] Cassie jay [/b] (I think that’s how her name is spelled) video called [b] “the red pill” [/b]. It’s about a former feminist that decides to go interview her “enemies” to only realize what men really are.

  3. 3
    No Name To Give

    I find most people can reasonably see the other side of things once we take the tribalism out of it.

  4. 4
    weyman lundquist

    That was a  silly youtube video.  People are so much deeper than that.  I can’t believe that women are really so insecure anymore.  I have dated many and most are quite confident and secure.  No reason to mock men for their insecurities.  Many of these insecurities are real for men today.   It just serves to divide women and men.  And I think that most women prefer a man who can look past this stuff and be himself. Men are not as characterized in this video.  They have respect for women and treat them as such.  To characterize them as those in power and those needing to assert their sexual dominance on women is cheap and disgraceful.

    1. 4.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      If you think that video is silly, weyman, this is not the blog for you.

  5. 5
    weyman lundquist

    It is harmful to let those who have a chip on their shoulder, a deeper hurt, an anger control the dialog.   We should respect the basic humanity of women and of men in a public forum, or it only serves to break us apart.

  6. 6
    Noone45

    Ah empathy, a difficult skill if there ever was one. If one takes the time to see it from another person’s perspective, they may have to change. As an example, I remember watching live coverage of the second assault on Fallujah after Bush II was reelected. There were bodies lined up on a soccer field. Some children, some women, some random men in casual clothes. I was struck by the reality that if I had been born there, I would likely be lying on that field. And for what – The misfortune of being born in the wrong place? I don’t say the pledge anymore since I saw that event. I live a very different life. Putting myself in their shoes changed my world outlook. Most people don’t care to change. It’s too hard for them.

    It’s the same thing in dating. Who really attempts to stand in the other person’s shoes and tries to see their point of view? I try, it’s why I don’t seriously date. Would I want to be in a long-term relationship someone with my life circumstances? No, so I don’t pursue those relationships (or any really). I get laid on occasion, even my ugly ass can manage it, but I don’t waste any time pretending I can be in a serious relationship. I can’t change the specific life circumstance that prevents relationships, thus I don’t fault anyone (or myself) for my fate. It just is. Now, for others, if they tried, they could change what is putting others off. But that means taking responsibility. That’s hard, it’s a long road trying to change. And that’s what people need to do – attempt to see what the other person is thinking. I make no excuses for racism, sexism, or any of the other retrograde behavior – that’s just gross stuff.

    Perhaps I am somewhat to blame as I refuse to entertain conservative men, but I have many gay friends and a transman who is close to me. Nor would they like my life circumstances. Oh well, I’ll admit to my hypocrisy.

     

     

  7. 7
    MilkyMae

    There are white men who are privileged and there are white men who are un-privileged.  The main delineation is married and unmarried.  Married men make an average of 30k/year than everyone else. This number is huge considering that about 25 percent of men make under 30k per year.

  8. 8
    Barb Elgin, LCSW-C

    I found this post took great courage Evan!  It’s so hard talking about this subject and not be misunderstood.  Thank you for your take.

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