Over at No, Seriously. What About Teh Menz, Ozy Frantz wrote two articles about oppression and privilege. The first article, the one about oppression, is a contradictory piece that argues, as my former co-blogger ballgame noted, that “suffering is not a contest” while also claiming that “of course women do face worse problems from sexism.” The second article, the one about privilege, was a preemptive response to the obvious criticism the first article would bring (which begs the question of why Ozy did not change the argument to avoid the criticism).
I wrote a comment on the second article, but it appears stuck in moderation. I decided to post the reply here. In the article, Ozy wrote:
One also has to consider that many of the disadvantages cis men face are not disadvantages faced by cis men but disadvantages faced by certain, marginalized groups of cis men.
Some disadvantages affect some groups of men more than others, but the “who has it worse” comparison is not based on in-group dynamics. In the paragraph preceding the above quote, Ozy stated, “However, when one compares [conscription] to even something as minor as crisis pregnancy centers, which lie to literally thousands of women every year to get them to carry their babies to term even if they don’t want to have children… yeah.” Obviously wealthy women do not have that same problems as poor women, yet Ozy did not note that in the anecdote. Ozy instead counted poor women by their sex, not their class. Why should this not apply with men?
For example, the prison-industrial complex Ozy mentions in the article disproportionately affects men compared to women. When women commit the same crime men, men are more likely to be charged, less likely to receive a plea deal, more likely to go to trial, more likely to be convicted, and more likely to receive a harsher sentence than women. Even when one breaks it down by various social groups, men within those groups still face greater disadvantages than women when charged with crimes. That is just one example where that occurs.
Similarly, Ozy’s example about hate crimes is problematic because few people recognize men as a special class. So even if a person or group specifically targeted men for harassment or abuse, it would never be called a “hate crime” or treated as discrimination, hatred, or bigotry. It does not mean men are not marginalized, only that no one calls it such.
Gendered oppression is certainly oppression related to being male, but I find it a bit disingenuous to consider it oppression because of being male.
If that is the case, how is the oppression gendered? The oppression can only be gendered if it has something to do with the target’s gender. If the oppression has nothing to do with a males being male, then it is not “gendered” oppression.
This theme came up in Ozy’s reply to ballgame’s comment on the oppression article:
Yes. Of *course* you can (roughly) rank the problems that people experience, and be like “cis men have it better than cis women have it better than trans men/female-assigned nonbinaries have it better than trans women/male-assigned nonbinaries.” That doesn’t mean that cis men’s problems aren’t real, or aren’t problems, or aren’t related to the other problems, or aren’t something that we should try to fix.
Again, that does not make much logical sense. Ozy is trying, like many feminists, to have it both ways. Obviously men have problems that uniquely happen to them. Some of those problems are worse for men compared some of the problems women face. By feminists logic, those unique problems should count as male oppression, but if feminists called it that, it would undermine their argument that men cannot be oppressed as men. So one gets Ozy’s above “men experience gendered oppression, but they are not oppressed because of their gender” argument.
This only happens because Ozy, like many feminists, is playing the “who has it worse” game. No one has to play this game. People could easily just look at how problems affect a specific group and leave it at that. But that does not win arguments and it does not shore up the ideological doctrine Ozy holds, which is how one ends up with statements like:
That doesn’t change the incontrovertible fact that it’s a hell of a lot nicer to have power than not to have power.
That assumes that every member of a group has power, which they do not, which a major problem with the privilege argument. It treats diverse groups as a collective without acknowledging that the majority of the people in the group lack much, if any, power.
Perhaps the real problem with privilege is not whether any group actually has it worse, but whether people will concede who has it worse. As Danny put it in a comment on Feminist Critics:
Truthfully I think the problem with the arguing over privilege is that even the people that say that want to stop arguing over “who has it worse” seem to only want to do so under the condition that they (or someone on their side or someone they agree with) gets the final unchallenged word on who has it worse.
Meaning that I actually believe that a good number of feminists that say, “Women have it worse. But that doesn’t matter let’s just work on helping everyone.” actually would let the arguing over who has it worse go….as soon as everyone that disagrees with them concedes to their contention that women do indeed have it worse.