An Open Letter to Each of my Male Friends: Don’t Be an Asshole

Dear Straight White Male Friends of Mine:

I’m honestly shocked that so many of you don’t realize that in America, you benefit from the fact that you’re straight, white and male. But hey, I guess one of the privileges of being straight, white and male is that you can live your whole lives completely unaware of how these factors strongly influence how you’re treated in our society. Weird, right?

Yes, it was uncomfortable for me when I first learned about white privilege and had to think about the fact that as a white woman in America, I’ve had privileges that my best friend, Sharnae, who is black, has not been given. But you know what’s more insulting than inadvertently benefiting from those privileges my entire life? Loudly denying they exist at all, even after I’ve been informed.

You do benefit from male privilege. As a man in this society, you are afforded certain privileges that I, as a female, do not.

You can be assertive in your professional life without being called a bitch. You can be sexually promiscuous with different partners without being called a slut. If you’re having a bad day, no one asks you if you’re on your period. You can walk down the street and not be afraid of being sexually-harassed or go jogging late at night and not fear being attacked. And those are the more mild examples, the list really does go on and on and on.

But I’m not blaming you.

Having privilege doesn’t make you an inherently bad person. I’m not suggesting that you all collectively ransack small towns and big cities, scooping up ill-gotten gains at the expense of women, while beating your chests like Tarzan.

I’m not implying that you created patriarchy; I’m merely asking you to question it.

I want you to think about why your first reaction to the concept of male privilege is to either loudly deny that those privileges exist or start stock-piling all the reasons that women have privileges, too and why can’t all we all just be equal and it’s almost 2014, why can’t we stop talking about this already?

I really wish I could. I wish that these conversations weren’t still wholly necessary. But, look at you, you’re some of the most intelligent, caring, funny men that I know and you still think ‘feminism’ is a dirty word. When I say that I believe in female rights, you hear that I believe in female rights OVER mens rights.

Nope, not the case.

I believe in equal rights. This is not a competition.

So, do me a favor and please swallow the urge to rail back about why women really have it easier or why feminists are overreacting. Instead, be aware of the implications of your privilege and ask questions.

Question why the mechanic at the car shop ignores your sister and talks directly to you about whatever repairs need to be done, even though she knows more about cars than you.

Question why the waiter thanks you when picking up the check when it was your girlfriend he saw put the money down.

Question why a female politician is asked about who is going to watch her children when you’ve never heard anyone ask the same of her male counterparts.

It’s literally all around you all the time, you just have to start looking. If you start to acknowledge the problem, instead of just ignoring it, we’ll be that much closer to fixing it.

I love you, idiots and I want to have these types of conversations with you. I really do. I just need you to come to the conversation with something valuable to add.

Love,

Your Feminist Friend.

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