Do men need to check their privilege? Gender
activists tell us that men carry around with them an invisible knapsack of advantage. Well,
is this true and is it the whole story? Let’s check the facts. Coming up next on the Factual
Feminist. If you are willing to cherry pick, stretch
the truth a bit, and suppress counterevidence, you can easily make it seem like women are
the have-nots in our society. You point to the wage gap, the glass ceiling. You focus
on women’s vulnerability to body shaming, sexual objectification, mansplaining, street
harassment, intimate partner violence. Before long you will have constructed a full-scale
patriarchy. And we have hundreds of women’s groups who do just that—they specialize
in persuading us that Venus is victimized and Mars is privileged.
But here is the problem. Women’s advocacy groups tend to exaggerate the plight of Venus
and ignore the troubles on Mars. As I have tried to show in earlier segments of this
series, most of the standard feminist injustice statistics are exaggerated or just plain wrong.
It not true that women are being cheated out of 23 percent of their salaries or that 1
in five will be victims of sexual assault. And it’s also the case that, in many critical
domains, women are faring far better than men.
Let’s consider a few: In education, it is women who are the privileged
sex. At every level of education—from preschool to graduate school—and across all ethnic
and class lines, women get better grades, win most of the honors and prizes, and are
far more likely to go to college. Today, women earn a majority of BAs and advanced degrees.
Our schools do a much better job educating women than men. Now look at the workplace. Women’s groups
focus a lot of attention on people at the pinnacle of achievement—CEOs of Fortune
500 corporations, tenured physics professors at MIT, U.S. Senators—and they are right
to say that there are too few women. But look what happens when you consider the entire
workforce. There may be a tiny handful of women—but the lethal professions are largely
a male preserve. As my favorite dissident feminist, Camille Paglia, has noted: “It is
overwhelmingly men who do the dirty, dangerous work of building roads, pouring concrete,
laying bricks, tarring roofs, hanging electric wires, excavating natural gas and sewage lines,
cutting and clearing trees, and bulldozing …” So it’s no surprise that the Bureau of Labor
Statistics reports that every year about 5,000 Americans die each year in workplace accidents—92
percent of them men. We hear about the Fortune 500 CEOs, but what about the unfortunate 4,600?
Alongside male salaries, perhaps some mention should be made of male sacrifice. Whenever perturbed gender warriors draw up
lists of male advantages, they always mention men’s freedom from fear of being attacked.
It’s true that women are much more likely to be victims of rape and sexual assault.
But men are much more likely to be victims of violent crime as a whole:
Consider Campus crime–men may need safe spaces more than women–according to the Bureau of
Justice Statistics: Men are twice as likely to be victims of a violent crime on campus.
Look at the overall Murder: Of 12,253 murder victims in 2013, 78 percent were men.
Even on the Internet, men face as much or more bullying than women. According to Pew
Research, More women than men are sexually harassed (7% women and 4% men), but men are
the primary targets of threats (10% men compared to 6% of women).
Let’s continue: Here are more facts that challenge the male privilege mantra:
Suicide: 77.9% were male, 22.1% female . Incarceration: 93.3% of federal inmates are
male and even when men and women commit the same crime and have similar criminal histories,
men receive 63 percent longer prison sentences on average.
Homelessness: it’s estimated that more than 60% of homeless individuals are male.
Combat: 85 percent of active duty soldiers are men. Though there are many women serving
in the armed services, fewer than 8 percent profess a desire to engage in combat. If you
visit a veteran’s hospital or rehabilitation center, male privilege is not the first idea
that comes to mind. And now for the mother of all gender gaps—life
expectancy : Women’s average life expectancy is nearly 5 years longer than men.
In sum: men must be the only oppressor class in history who are less educated, more victimized,
and shorter lived than those they oppress—and who have claimed society’s gritty, dangerous
jobs their exclusive preserve. The Factual Feminists verdict: Modern life
is a complicated mix of burdens and benefits for each sex. Men and women enjoy distinctive
advantages and face distinctive challenges. So if men have to check their privilege, then
so do women. But why play this game? Why do so many activists
want to promote gender resentment? Men and women are not two opposing teams competing
for some trophy. We are in this together. Our fates are intimately connected. As one
wit has observed, “Nobody will ever win the battle of the sexes. There’s too much
fraternizing with the enemy.” My advice: Let’s dispense with the bitter
rhetoric about male privilege and get on with the fraternizing … and sororitizing. Do you think one sex is more privileged than
the other? Or do you agree that it’s a complicated mix? Let me know in the comments section below.
I invite you to subscribe to this series, follow me on Twitter, and like me on Facebook.
And remember—before telling a man to check his privilege, check your facts. Thank you
for watching the Factual Feminist.