Saturday, April 25, 2009


To bring the whole male privilege discussion to a proper close, I thought I might add a few words in an effort to neatly wrap up what has been said.

Gender is a powerful force. Before there was any other strict, unyielding delineation separating human beings from each other like race, religion, or ethnicity, there was gender. This is why gender equality has proven to be such an elusive goal. For as long as humans have roamed the earth, there have been two sexes. Men are men. Women are women. Their ways are different. Their roles are different. Their perspectives are different. Their experiences are different. The ways both internally perceive the same external situation are entirely different. None of this should come as that much of a surprise. This is merely a matter of common sense and simple biology.

While looking over the last two posts, I notice that my male readers shared the perspective I advanced, while my female readers took a contrary view. Perhaps that in and of itself isn't very surprising, since I am also a man. Still, I've never wanted to perpetuate the Stalemate Between the Sexes, since it has always been my belief that pitched conflict of this kind never leads to any satisfactory resolution. By the end, the fault lines often exist in much the same ways as they did before and both sides continue to stare across a large divide at each other as though the verbal jousting accomplished nary a thing.

It is also unfortunate to me to ponder how much gender conflict and power dynamics influence our points of view. We see often see ourselves first as our gender, and last as human beings. Furthermore, our own personal opinion of gender is shaped often by negative past experiences. Many are so awful and traumatic that they completely cloud the way we respond to other people of our own or an opposite gender, those whom they themselves did nothing at all to create the negative impressions we hold. If there were any way to push past our own conditioning, I wish we could manage it for the sake of the greater good.

We wage struggles like these all the time in the sake of progress, evolution, or reform. Some state that gender inequality is the default primordial state of human existence and that as such, it will always exist. Though I disagree strongly with the assumption, I will mention again how pervasive and powerful gender bias and gender identity are in the human mind, since both create artificial boundaries between men and women. We are a strange combination of the rational and the instinctual, and the unskillful interface between these two vital parts of us often creates tremendous problems. Until we can fully embrace the civilized impulse, we'll always be trapped bouncing back and forth between different worlds.


Faded said...

"Still, I've never wanted to perpetuate the Stalemate Between the Sexes"

lmao. GOOD-LUCK-WITH-THAT. I always figure, that, as merely a simple-ass man, if I'm trying to not perpetuate the stalemate, at least I'm on the right path.

I enjoyed this read,btw.

Jerome said...

I know I'm late to the discussion, but I wanted to make one comment on something in this post. I don't think it's useful to view men and women as essentially different and go from there (gender essentialism). I am of the opinion that men and women are more alike than different, and I think that the majority of the reason why the sexes perceive things differently has to do with social conditioning rather than simple biology. I think that the path forward will focus on the ways in which we are all the same rather than accepting that we are intrinsically different in ways that the other group just can't understand. It's true that a man cannot have the exact lived experience of a woman or vice versa, but what people CAN do is try their best to empathize and honestly understand what other groups go through, and I think that almost anyone can do well with this with some effort. (For the record, I do have some feminist cred...once upon a time, before I was a nurse, I got a degree in Women's Studies and used to have this stuff coming out of my ears).

Utah Savage said...

You guys always assume that it is as it has ever been and so it is the natural order. There are even in these modern times tribes that are matrilineal. It works quite well. Since maternity can never be questioned whereas paternity until recently was never certain.

Jerome, nicely put.

Kevin, interesting as always. I still stand by that recommendation for "The Female Eunuch" Greer's only really great and inspired writing.