Kate Bornstein on male privilege

August 25, 2010

From Gender Outlaw, p. 108:

“Male privilege” is assuming one has the right to occupy any space or person by whatever means, with or without permission. It’s a sense of entitlement that’s unique to those who have been raised male in most cultures–it’s notably absent in most girls and women. Male privilege is not something that’s given to men in this culture; it’s something that men take. It’s not that women don’t have the ability to have and wield that privilege; some do. It’s that in most cases, this privilege is withheld from them culturally and emotionally. Male privilege is woven into all levels of the culture, from unearned higher wages to more opportunities in the workplace, from higher quality, less expensive clothing to better bathroom facilities.

Nicer bathrooms? Really? Not in my experience.

Male privilege extends into sexual harassment, rape and war. Combine male privilege with capitalism (which rewards greed and acquisition) and the mass media (which, owned by captialists, highlights only the rewards of acquisition and makes invisible its penalties), and you have a juggernaut that needs stopping by any means.

Bornstein suggests that an “interesting way” to take a swipe at male privilege would be “to mandate not an increase in wages for women, but rather a decrease in wages for men to the level of any woman holding a similar position” (108-109; emphasis hers).

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2 Responses to “Kate Bornstein on male privilege”


  1. […] you threaten to take away those gender dividing lines, if you threaten to dismantle the male-female pecking order, then you will get stomped. Fear of the Other will see to […]


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