This topic has come up in my life a few times recently, and it’s another one I feel strongly about…
Some people seem to deny that gender inequality and male privilege persist in society, while others try to counter or complain with their own perceptions of “unchecked female privilege.”
It is reminiscent of affirmative action, white privilege and reverse discrimination discussions — this backlash from the privileged claiming that there is equality and future efforts are unnecessary and/or damaging to these individuals in a historically privileged group (“it’s not like I chose to be born male/white, and–hey–my situation is different”).
Have you heard or witnessed any of these sentiments?
- “It’s not fair that women get free or discounted cover charge to clubs.”
- “I don’t respect women who wear wedges. Heels are so much hotter.”
- “Being a stay-at-home dad is so hard because of all the negative stereotypes”
- “You’re a girl. You’re supposed to clean.”
- “Whoa. You look so much different with/without make-up.”
- “Women’s clothes is so much cheaper.”
Images on Google I found were pretty outrageous.
I’ve run through numerous statistics in several of my courses at UCSD that highlight existing forms of gender inequality. Yes, women tend to choose occupations that have lower salaries. However, in positions of equal work, women usually earn less pay. Women are less likely to negotiate their salary — and when they do, it is often viewed unfavorably.
And also: The List of Male Privileges
The following are issues surrounding little internal struggles I face occasionally, while questioning why I even:
Work/Life Balance: An Active Party Agenda
Maybe it’s just me, but I feel that men with an active social agenda (bars, clubs, raves) are less likely to be viewed as irresponsible or having the possibility of personal life affecting productivity and effectiveness at work. (The same goes for sexual promiscuity and slut shaming. If a man has many casual sexual encounters, good for him or boys will be boys. If a woman is dating around or has several one-night stands, what a [insert derogatory term here].)
It’s not like I go out clubbing all the time, or that I even drink every time I do, but there is this negative “party girl” stereotype that I find myself trying to combat because it seems to have negative implications for professional capacity. On that note: read about my experience Being Caked By Steve Aoki.
Ever since I began coming home or walking around by myself at night, I’ve been taught to be alert–sometimes to the point of paranoia–and prepared. When I worked at Panda Express and commuted to school via public transportation, I would frequently get off the bus and walk home at midnight. I carried a stun gun and every night, I gave it a test zap to make sure it would work.
When I’m riding or walking my longboard at night, I am aware of the possibility of using it for self-defense and escape. I don’t wear my hair in a ponytail (easier to grab), I wear my purse across my body/not on one shoulder, and I hold my car keys in a way that will make it easier to stab someone if necessary. I worry about this even in well-lit places in nice neighborhoods, like La Jolla.
When talking to a male friend, he admitted that he never worried about these issues.
After growing up in the hood and taking public transportation… I’ve begun to largely avoid eye contact with male strangers because friendliness has brought about some unwelcome attention (at least in certain parts of town). I’m done giving men the benefit of the doubt after way too many catcalls and inappropriate comments. It doesn’t even matter what I wore–Panda Express uniform: red shirt, black pants. People might say I can’t take a compliment, but the way I see it: no, objectification does not flatter me.
Am I just picky for wanting a man to turn his ear because of something I said, and not turn his head because of–is it something I wore? These shorts are kind of short.
Why should I have to think about how the way I walk (head high or gaze low), or the way I dress will cause strangers to react and try to interact with me?
The Pink Tax
Products that are identical, save for blue/pink branding, are priced differently.
Take this a step further, like this Huffington Post article… being a woman or having a female child is expensive.
This article provides a questionably high estimate because of the cost of birth control, but even taking the cost of menstrual products alone: 3-5 days a month, every month from puberty to menopause. Be they pads, tampons, panty liners… (More on environmentally-friendly, cost-saving alternatives later.) And BRAS. What kind of equivalent cost do men incur by merely owning a penis? New tube socks, tissues, and lotion?
That doesn’t even account for the other social problems that come with menstruation: worrying about stains/leaking (high school girlfriend butt checks), making sure you have products in your bag when your time of the month is coming up, being restricted or hesitant to engage in certain activities (water).
The average adult male can comfortably pee, have sex, and splash in the pool/ocean whenever he pleases.
Aside from the mere biological aspect, social and beauty standards make femalehood even more burdensome.
Men’s casual, business, and nightlife attire largely overlap and it’s much more acceptable/less noticeable to re-wear outfits. Woman in a power suit every day not your thing? Don’t worry, she’ll probably want to change before heading out to the club/bar for the night. But you’re good to go. Solid.
Men: do you even lift bro? Women: squat game strong. Female bodybuilders risk seeming unappealing to boys who might question their masculinity.
Beach/pool vacation coming up? Waxed? Plucked? Shaved? (Head-to-toe checklist: brows, upper lip, pits, landing strip!, legs)
Goin’ out for the night? Brows on fleek? Make-up on point? Nails did?
Some men be like, ugh I have to shave every other day; others think they should be applauded for maintaining their bush.
I’m confident, lazy, and don’t wear make-up often (I refuse to wear make-up on a first date, although I do enjoy gussying up for certain special occasions), and even I think that I spend too much time and money every other year on appointments and beauty products.
Sometimes I find myself questioning whether I’m doing it for myself or someone else. Sometimes I question if I even care that I haven’t kept up on x/y/z.
And I really shouldn’t have to.