Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Myth of Female Privilege And Biological Determinism

Because I must be some kind of glutton, I followed a sitemeter hit back to this post about George Sondini and the misogyny of MRAs.

And then (I blame insomnia) I read the comments. Ampersand has a much higher tolerance for the verbose and inaccurate ramblings of misogynists than I do. What keeps coming up is the idea that feminists don't acknowledge "female privilege" and that differences between men and women are because of biology and not culture.

1st let's talk biology.

Yes, women have babies and produce milk for babies. Men can't do that. That sucks and is unfair. But as a feminist I gladly support any medical or technical innovation that makes it so that men who want to be pregnant and nurse babies can. Hell,I'd even offer up my own overly fertile uterus and ovaries as a donation, though I'd prefer if they went to a transwoman or a gay man. I also support any and all advances that make it easier for both women and men who DON'T want to have babies. Bring on the male pill.

That's it. That's all there is to the biology thing. Sure, men and women get different diseases, or the same diseases elicit different symptoms in men and women. There's no privilege there. Where there is privilege is in the different ways medical society treats disease based on gender. But that is not biological, that's cultural.

All other supposed biological truths are really just cultural. The men are stronger meme relies entirely on a a very specific and narrow idea of strength lying in large muscle mass and ability to cause harm. Again, those are cultural applications to biology, not scientific truths like gravity.

And the truth is, along a spectrum, there is more biological difference between women alone or men alone than there is between men and women combined.

(*please note that yes, this portion doesn't mention a thing about issues of transness or gender queerdom. It is not meant to exclude either from the argument. I believe that like sexuality, gender is a spectrum. Some people are hardwired, regardless of genitalia, at one end of the spectrum or the other, and some people fall more in the middle.)

So culture is the thing that tells us little girls like pink and little boys like blue. I know this is a fact, because it wasn't that long ago (100 years maybe) that pink was a boy color and blue was a girl color. I know that not all women want to be nurturing caregivers and not all men want to be brave soldiers.

I also know that violence in men is a trait specifically created by the patriarchy to continue the patriarchy, and not an inherent masculine trait.

Think about that for a minute. Feminists, by acknowledging that, give men more credit than they give themselves. We allow for the idea that they can be better men and better humans than they are allowed to be now. But we're the man haters. Go figure.

But what about that female privilege thing.

From what I can gather, MRAs think women have privilege over men because

1) We don't have to pay on dates
2) We don't have to open doors for people
3) We aren't eligible for the draft or required to sign up for the Selective Service
4) We can choose to have sex anytime (except when we can't choose- that's rape) without having to pay for it.
5) We are(sometimes) believed on domestic violence claims

I will gladly pay my own way on all future dates (and most of my past ones) in exchange for never being street harassed again. Really, if the cost of not fucking up my entire day and being able to go about my business in public without the ever present fear of creepy dudes is buying my own coffee or dinner, then I'm all in.

I already hold open doors for other people, but we can make a gender neutral door opening law if we can also make equal pay for equal work a reality and not a catchy phrase.

On this, I am reminded of a line from my favorite Jane Austen novel, Persuassion, "The only privilege I can claim for my sex, and you needen't envy it," is of not being eligible for the Selective Service. I'm pretty sure there are lots of female soldiers and sailors and pilots who wish the combat restrictions were gone.I don't think anyone should have to sign up with the Selective Service, male or female.

We have more options for having sex, but only if we are willing to fuck any guy. It's not like Tahmoh Penikett is going to walk through my door wearing nothing but a smile. If I was interested in good old boy southern rednecks, I'd be golden. But I'm not.

And there is one thing that women have to fear when it comes to sex way more than men do. We fear you and the harm you can do when you don't believe in enthusiastic consent. So we may seem our to be rolling is dick and ignoring it, but mostly we are worried that our drinks may get roofied or our "No" will be ignored.

The solution to that is feminism though. Then everybody gets to choose more sex (or no sex or some sex- it's about choice)and no body has to fear rape. What MRAs see as privilege is just self preservation.

And domestic violence, sometimes women get believed by cops and judges. But really, it's only sometimes. It's no so much a privilege when you consider the rates of victims of other crimes being believed, like say murder or robbery. We domestic violence survivors actually score pretty low on that. So do rape victims.

That doesn't mean that women have no privilege. As a white women I have more privilege than a black woman. I don't ever even have to consciously act on the privilege. It's always there, whether I want it or not. But just because I don't act on it consciously doesn't mean I don't benefit from it.I knew in my old neighborhood that if someone needed to call the police in my apartment complex, it should be me as the nice white lady because I was going to get faster and fairer service from the police than my black neighbors. Same thing is true for men, just because you don't rape women doesn't mean that you don't benefit from the silencing fear it creates.

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