Premise 2: The True Purpose of Male Privilege is to Undermine Bro Culture.
“Male privilege” refers to the ways in which our society is designed and organized largely BY men to favor men. (Although it may constitute a separate Premise, this is a concept I will discuss and support in more detail later. For more information now, and a few views challenging it, click on this Wikipedia link). In many men, it engenders a practically innate sense of being “right” and “normal,” a mentality of “I can do no wrong!” and the entitlement that naturally goes with such a mentality. Generally put, we expect respect and all that society has to offer: employment, income, possessions, independence, and of course, a woman to go with it.
It is easy for feminist women, no matter how smart, well-meaning, or eloquent, to come off as condescending or even offensive to such socially privileged and intellectually contextless men when trying to address or correct their objectionable behavior. This has the potential to alienate men even further from the idea that a “smart woman” is a good thing. Additionally, men see women perpetrating what appears to be the same behavior (women rendering judgment upon each other in the form of “bitch” and “slut,” dressing in revealing clothing as though to self-objectify for male pleasure, expecting men to pay for things and hold doors for them; in other words, fulfilling the female gender role), and feel justified in treating and relating to women as women treat each other and ostensibly as women want to be treated.
The historical societal definition of a woman–dependent, needy, weak, vain, overly emotional, unintelligent–represents the exact opposite of what men are taught to regard as respectable. Men often seek out such women who appear to reflect societal ideas of femininity as a means of reinforcing our own sense of manliness. In doing so, we limit our exposure to alternate ideas of “womanhood,” i.e. women who demand and deserve respect simply for being human, not in exchange for fulfilling some perceived societal role or another. Such roles can include “putting out” for his pleasure, knowing how to cook and clean and actively enjoying it, dressing attractively, looking to him for protection or financial security (again, reinforcing his own sense of masculinity is central to this transactional concept of a relationship), being obedient and respectful to him by default, et cetera. Men are prone to reject women who do not fulfill these expectations.
Of course, there are some people in this world who do not deserve our respect, whether because they are selfish, destructive, ignorant, or just basically unpleasant. But I only can know that they don’t deserve my respect from having interacted with them, learning about them, and deducing that they take more from my life than they add. Therefore, all people of all genders deserve some measure of automatic, assumed respect as human beings. As men, we possess the means by which to “properly” relate this concept to other men. Our privilege in society gives us the presumed authority to do so. Men tend to trust other men more as equals. The challenge is in making meaningful and enduring change, which is dependent on maintaining credibility among one’s peers. (If this sad reality upsets you, I don’t blame you. I would like more than anything else to scream these truths at ignorant men and have them be learned, absorbed, and acted upon immediately. Unfortunately, I’m not a screamer; I’m an explainer. I think society needs both, personally. Clinging to one or the other as the only solution is ideological i.e. not realistic.)
As bell hooks describes in hooks–seduced by violence no more, many women accept gender roles based on objectification, power dynamic, and non-emotionality as normal, acceptable, and desirable. Sometimes, such women see men who activize feminist ideas as less manly or stimulating, frustrating the man’s effort to be a “feminist.” This represents the female’s role in reinforcing societal expectations placed on men, exemplified within Bro Culture. It is important for us, as men, to also confront this challenge; a person who demands disrespect in a relationship demands, in a way, that we disrespect ourselves. A person who doesn’t respect him or herself generally doesn’t warrant respect from others, not to say that this person doesn’t DESERVE it, but he or she definitely doesn’t ASK for it. If you’re reading this blog, I assume you WANT to respect yourself, and be respected. Long story short: you have to give it, to get it.