Thursday, June 5, 2014

Let's talk about privilege.

Like "patriarchy," "privilege" is another one of those "gotcha" words that, when challenged, result in accusations of ignorance, willful or otherwise, and demands that one "educate yourself." So let me start out by saying, privilege is definitely a thing. "Privilege," in the sociological sense, means a benefit or advantage that you have just by belonging to a [dominant] social identity group. It should be noted that privilege is possessed innately; it doesn't matter whether you want it, you acknowledge it, you intentionally use it, or what you think of it. It's just the way things are.

Examples of straight and cis privilege are fairly common, along with examples of white privilege, Christian privilege, economic privilege, and several others. But the group I hear most often run down for their privilege is men.

Is "male privilege" a thing? Sure. But unlike the other groups, the alleged "dominant group" here is not an overwhelming majority, overbearing a smaller population through sheer numbers, nor a conquesting minority, dominating with superior technology. I covered in a previous post the lack of logic behind suggesting that women are an systemically-oppressed minority. Feminism 101 would have you believe that there is no such thing as "female privilege," that areas where women benefit from The Patriarchy are more aptly called "benevolent sexism." This may work for examples like women and children being loaded into lifeboats first. But there's at least one clear example of female privilege where the "benevolent sexism" concept just doesn't wash, and that's paternity.

We women know who are children are. Barring an mix-up at the hospital, the baby we pop out of our bodies is ours, for better or worse. Men? Men have no idea. Men have to have faith and trust-- and with fidelity rates what they are these days, that's trust and faith bordering on naivete. But, luckily for men, these days they don't have to rely on blind trust-- science is on their side! For the first time in history, men can now easily, accurately, and cheaply know if they in fact fathered the child purported to be theirs. And a median 3.7% of children, around the world, are, in fact, subject to "paternal discrepancy."

So how have some women reacted? 

Many men have, of course, ended up raising children who were not genetically their own, but really, does it matter? You can feel quite as much tenderness for a child you mistakenly think to be yours as for one who is. [Source]
Spoken like someone who will never have to experience unknowingly raising a child who is not genetically her own.