Today at work I encountered a problem with the Assistant Manager of where I work. My oldest daughter just started preschool and today I needed to pick her up from school at 3PM. So I told the manager that I needed to be gone by no later than 2:50PM. It was, by no means, an unreasonable request. We’ve been slow at work and I’m usually sent home by around 2PM either way. I also haven’t asked to leave early from work in nearly a year, so I expected this to be a non-issue.
Well, I was wrong.
The moment the words left my mouth, the Assistant Manager told me tough luck, mocked my reason for needing to leave early, name-called me a “whiny baby”, informed me I needed to change my availiability if I needed to leave early, then threatened to speak with another Assistant Manager about me.
Does this seem like fair and equal treatment to you? Because it doesn’t to me. I was livid. This Assistant Manager was counting on the fact that he was male and older than I to cow me into submission. To further browbeat me into being a good girl, he also demeaned me and tried to call into question my responsbility as a mother to attend to my children as “not a good reason” to request to leave early. Then, as his final coup de grâce, he informed me he’d be speaking to another manager to possibly make me feel as though my job may be in danger.
I’m a good employee. I am early to work every day, I rarely call in sick, I pick up shifts when need be to help others out, I fulfill all my responsibilites at work above-and-beyond, I train others well, and I am always respectful and pleasant to co-workers and managers. To suddenly have this mistreatment leveled at me left me shocked and humiliated.
I’ve been meaning to do a blog post on female privilege for quite some time, but today’s occurrence lit a fire under my ass. What originally got me started on this topic is when I followed a tweeted link to a tumblr blog about female privilege. Go ahead and peruse through several pages. Do you feel adequately disgusted? A few are clearly meant to be trollish or lame attempts at humor, but many more are sadly serious.
I’m going to lay it out simply before going a bit more in-depth: Male privilege does exist. Female privilege does not. Yes, there are instances that, if taken on a stand-alone basis, appear as if women are favored. I’m here to help dispel these areas as best I can.
The most obvious example I’ve seen thrown about is that many bars offer free drinks to women on some evenings (Ladies Night). In isolation, these could easily be misconstrued as female privilege. Once you look at the whole picture and get better context on the issue at hand, you realize this simply isn’t true. Ladies Night is a poorly disguised benefit to men. Think about it. Why does Ladies Night really exist? Because women are sexual objects. They’re bait to attract men to the bar. The more women that show up for Ladies Night for the free drinks, then the more men that show up to the bar to harass the women.
Let’s take an asserted case of female privilege — for instance, draft immunity — and assume arguendo that it is a real instance of privilege. (I realize there are arguments that this is not a real privilege, but let’s assume it is for the moment.) Why would a real female privilege exist in society, and what might it mean?
First, an instance of female privilege would have significant potential masking effects on male privilege. There are hundreds of examples of minor societal norms — men paying for the date, men taking the combat roles in the military — which potentially give a small tangible benefit to women. These little trifles may create a perception that privilege is available to everyone: “Men get some privileges, and women get others. Hey, I guess it’s all just a wash!”
So the first negative consequence of a “real” female privilege would be to muddy or blunt arguments about male privilege. (And we’ve seen it happen, on the recent male privilege post.) This would be an incredibly misleading perception, because male privilege is the real prize, and any female privilege (such as it is) is a ragtag collection of shitty consolation prizes. Women don’t get to be CEO or President or Senator or general — but hey, they get their dinner paid for on that date. Go, female privilege! And yet the existence of any potential privilege can be a distraction from the reality that every important real privilege is reserved for men.
There’s so much to discuss regarding this topic that I intend to touch upon it again in the future. But honestly, do you believe that female privilege exists? I wholeheartedly agree with the above quote. Any privilege that does exist is just an assortment of craptacular “consolation prizes” meant to keep us happy, while the truly important privileges are reserved solely for men. How can female privilege be a real thing when we have evidence of rape culture every day?