This is the first article in a new category, Male Privilege. The category will consist of examples of systemic, institutional and pervasive discrimination against men – disprivilege – for use in rebuttal to claims of male privilege.
This first example has to do with lawyers provided free of charge to victims of domestic violence in Windsor, Ontario. The university there has a group that offers legal aid, Community Legal Aid.
“Community Legal Aid will no longer represent anyone accused of domestic violence — as long as that person is a man.If it’s a woman facing the same accusation, the organization will try to find her a sympathetic lawyer who will work for free, or take on the case themselves.
The recent policy change by the student legal aid clinic — which is run by the University of Windsor’s law school — has stunned and outraged local defence lawyers.”
So who came up with this new policy, and how? It seems to have been the Dean of Law, Camille Cameron, and it seems she and her committee acted pretty much on their own, without consulting any of the usual partners. (You can see the bland, smiling face of bigotry by going to the article; her picture is about two thirds of the way down.)
Read her justification – she thinks so little of opposition to this move that she can’t be bothered even to put together a coherent explanation of it.
A measure of the cluelessness that went into this decision is a statement from a professor of law who sat on the committee, David Tanovich:
David Tanovich, a law professor at the university, was part of the committee behind the policy decision.
“Asked why the policy treats women differently than men, Tanovich said there are “systemic issues” in the justice system.
“For example, the woman calls 911, saying ‘My partner has assaulted me.’ The police arrive, and they make credibility assessments that are biased, and they end up charging the woman — not the man.
“That’s a social justice issue that the clinic wants to investigate,” Tanovich said. “We’re a social justice law school. We have a social justice mandate.”
That’s Professor Tanovich’s justification. Does he really think it passes the laugh test, that bit about the woman getting arrested? Does he really think that a man gets even that much of a hearing when he calls 911 and says his partner has assaulted him? Would he care to try saying that with a straight face?
So there it is – a group funded with public money offers a service to one group and denies it to another. Is that systemic enough for you, institutional enough?
And the discrimination is based solely on a person’s sex. That’s the face of male privilege.
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