Still dissing privilege

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.


9 thoughts on “Still dissing privilege

  1. Both you and ballgame (as well as many other commenters on this I’ve seen over the years) are overlooking another dynamic that drives what Ozy does and constrains her /hir /whatthefockeva (sorry, I remember when she was bragging about her body as a woman and posting a nudie pic or two *she wasn’t half bad* and the arguments over what to call this person get tiring) and Noah Brand’s arguments:
    Modern Progressivism, of which most types of feminism (esp the politically activist branches) are but a part, only recognizes certain “victim classes” (in, from my understanding the “Marxist” sense). White males are not in that group. Males aren’t in that group. Rich people aren’t in that group. Black males are in a victim group, but their only oppression is of the racial variety. A white male can be a member of the group of “poor” people, but he can never be a member of the group of sexually oppressed people. If you are not in a victim group, you are a victimizer. You have power (largely assumed totally accidental or stolen or otherwise unearned), whether you personally do or not. Oppression is always one way and always consists of the group that has power oppressing the group that doesn’t have power. Victim groups do not have power, some deny that members of them even have basic personal agency, claiming instead that some outside force (patriarchy, etc) results in brainwashing and constrains all their personal choices. Because victim groups do not have power , oppression strictly goes in one direction. Hence why blacks can’t be racists, women can’t be sexist, etc. Need I mention that the idea of power is often extremely simplistic in these analysis, consisting mostly of counting things such as heads in government, members on boards, or amount of $ that a group as a whole holds.

    If Ozzy, if Noah were ever to go beyond that , they would lose many friends they value and the limited (but for the most part real) recognition they retain as progressive feminists in the feminist blogosphere. Hence, why in the entire two years they’ve been up and running I don’t recall seeing a single post on Father’s Rights, and why they mostly focus on adding a few male and “queer” gender groups (mostly gays) to the victimized classes and informing straight males its ok to cry and paint your nails.

    In short, the ideology they subscribe to will simply NOT let them explore the lives of day to day men (particularly straight men) too deeply.

  2. Here’s the thing:
    I’d like a world where there is more empathy for everybody. By empathy I mean the recognition that all people, regardless of caste, color, class can be victims at times, that everyone is human deserves the protections of the law and basic respect from society and that every time a human is mistreated by other humans it is a cause for concern.

    The biggest thing standing in the way of this isn’t feminism, or any of the normal “isms” and it isn’t even the often-problematic “dominance heirarchies we humans seem to inevitably setup. Nope, it’s the average person’s ability to split the world into “us” versus “them” and then troublingly, assign evil to “them” without being able to assign any good.

  3. Yep, women get it worse and you better know it is his/her/zer? basic premise. Ozy plays the oppression olympics in zer own articles, typical of feminists discussing male issues where they HAVE TO ALWAYS MENTION WOMEN GET IT WORSE. It’s the worst form of derailing! Hugo did it, Soraya did it, Amanda did it, Ozy did it, I’m sure many more do it.

  4. I get moderated quite a bit there, not sure if many of them actually go through. I’ve seen 50+ comments goto 20 comments in a few minutes, so I think there is a bit of censoring going on there but not 100% sure.

  5. My response to the article got moderated and is no longer there. Hasn’t been around for a while.

    Ozy sure loves censorship for someone “Open” to issues regarding men.

  6. Ahh! They are out of the spam bin.
    I should also add that the more “victim groups” you can join, the higher your status in modern progressivism, and louder your voice, as well as the less impugnable your motives. Also, there is a victim heirarchy in regards to groups: someone in more than one groups voice generally trumps the voice of a single group person and if you don’t belong to a given group you must always bow to the knowledge and “lived experience” of a member of that group when the topic of that group is brought up. Hence why women of color are the preferred speakers and judges of on and of racism. They belong to two victim groups, while a black male would only belong to one, and a white male to none.

    I know you know at least 99 percent of this stuff , Jacob, but I do think you tend to forget that to many people this is the intellectual environment in which they must work if they hope to keep their friends and status. You do not question the victim grouping methodology though you may *cautiously* attempt to add to it.

  7. Clarence, I do not forget that people feel they must play politically correct games; I just do not entertain it. I think it is stupid that one group of people have more “right” to speak than another, and if that bothers the intellectual crowds, then I welcome their attempt to justify it. More often than not they cannot even explain what it is that they do, let alone defend it.

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