In her post “Assholes Come in Two Flavours: Male and Female” Typhonblue outlined the rim of the issue* by flipping the genders to show how outrageous the young woman’s sexism was.
Let’s look at this now as an example of female privilege in a little more detail and list the ways it is. Note how in each instance these forms of privilege are embedded both cultural and institutional structures of society.
And by the way, being female is not enough to give you access to female privilege in a case like this. You have to be white and you have to be cis to get this to work for you, and being the right class and being pretty definitely help. Intersectionality doesn’t just apply to oppression, it also applies to privilege.
And note how almost every instance of this privilege depends on men’s action or inaction to exist. You can blame a woman for using it, but you can’t blame her for creating it.
Excerpting from commenter JDCyran’s account:
A particularly fiery and antagonistic girl was berating the hell out of this boy who had beaten her at a game of Magic.
(including calling him a pussy and grabbing his shirt). He let it go on for a long time
Double standards – this woman acted this way only because she knew she could, only because she knew he would never respond or be allowed to respond in kind.
Gynonormativity – she was in a male space but expected female treatment, as we will see as we go along, and when she didn’t get it, she insisted the men present act according to her norms, and when that wasn’t done to her satisfaction she summoned help from outside to enforce those norms.
Female immunity – by almost any legal standard this woman committed assault and suffered no legal repercussions.
…trying to talk to her, even apologizing for having won(!!), but he eventually, loudly, called her a bitch.
Well she figured wrong, but in the end she turned out to be right anyway. It turns out that goaded hard enough, a man may actually turn and give back a tiny bit of the shit that a woman has been slinging at him. But watch has happens later.
And she[lost] it. She immediately started crying, which embarrassed the guy, who was obviously already close to tears himself, further, and came to us to demand, through her dramatically wracking sobs, that he be removed from the premise for being sexist and because she felt threatened by his anger. We told her that we would not, obviously, because we had witnessed what was going on, that she was provoking him, and thus had her removed instead.
Damselling – she resorts to crying as a pressure tactic. She expects the men present to come to her aid and protect, like good little white knights. And by the way, this is a pretty abrupt transition for it to be genuine, going from rage to tears so quickly and with such perfect timing. And if it wasn’t genuine, she must have expected some benefit to putting on such a performance.
Double standards – she could turn on a flood of tears in response to this situation, which stressed at least as much, as we will see – and he couldn’t.
Double standards – she can use her display of emotion as an appeal or pressure tactic to get the men present to intervene on her behalf.
Double standards – she can use gendered insults like “pussy”, which is at least as insulting as “bitch”, but he had better never presume to equality in reciprocating with the same level of insult to her.
Male disposability – the guy’s embarrassment and emotional upset count for nothing at all in this incident.
We ended up talking to the guy, too, telling him that, even if someone else was getting way out of hand, it would have been better to let us know so we could have dealt with it.
but the women’s resource center actually staged some small pickets in front of the store holding signs that said things like “unsafe for women” and “Welcome back to the ’50s. Men Only!”
We had several encounters with the group for a couple of weeks (it blew over relatively quickly, thankfully), and when we tried to explain what happened, we got many of the above arguments. To them, she should never have had to fear a man calling her a bitch, even if she antagonized and provoked him using gendered insults and was physically attacking him.
Double standards again – does anyone doubt these same demonstrators would have had absolutely no problem with women-only spaces?
Female immunity – these “several encounters” amount to harassment. A men’s group doing the same thing would surely have gotten at least one visit from the police after the first “encounter”.
Damseling – in this case not the aspect that confers a right to protection, but the aspect that confers higher status – it is heinous to call a lady a degrading term like “bitch” no matter how acceptable it is for her to call a man a “pussy”, and that’s just a function of their differing statuses.
And notice how these other men regulated on the guy, not the woman.
To bring the example back in circle to the original quote there, no amount of reasonable, intelligent discussion would have solved that. There was no way, at least that I could determine, to convince that group that she was in the wrong at all. We couldn’t offer advice, such as, you know, not starting fights, because then we were blaming her for having a part in what happened. Anything less than declaring the guy a monster and prostrating ourselves before them wouldn’t have done anything (and I’m not even sure that would have satisfied them).
Victim privilege – the men were proscribed from saying anything to the rage monster because that would be “blaming the victim’, a heinous non-no, and of course victims can come only out of a designated victim class. Victim privilege is a form of damseling.
This recaps the double standards and damseling we have pointed out. See how her expectations point back to her sense of privilege arising out of culture and institutions.
And if anyone can see more points of female privilege that I missed, thanks for pointing them out to me.
*Sorry, couldn’t let that one go by.
- The Woman Card - May 2, 2016
- Frat boy bachelorettes and the invasion of gay bars - April 15, 2016
- “Not my kid….” - February 22, 2016