I read a reddit thread a few days ago defending the notion of “male privilege”. The thread intended to challenge someone’s critique of the idea, and given the left-leaning space, it devolved into mocking the position. No one there could understand why anyone would reject the concept. One person claimed that opponents to the theory treated “male privilege” as if it were a superpower.
That the feminist message about “male privilege” itself treats it as some sort of superpower, some inherent mutation that allows all males everywhere to benefit from unfair advantages regardless of the situation, never occurred to any of them. They were more invested in defending their ideology than understanding why men reject it.
Such is the case with an article posted on the Good Men Project. Author Mike Sliwa decided that the best way to address the issues men face is by arguing that men are bad and need to check their “male privilege” if they want to be good:
In a world built upon patriarchal principles and misogynistic tendencies a man may want to consider abandoning his domestication and subsequent indoctrination when it comes to being raised within the industrial model of civilization. Once confronted with the fact that our living arrangement doesn’t solve problems but instead creates them, every conscionable man must face the choice of staying the course or embracing humility. Humility is rarely taught to men. Those who become familiar with it usually have had it forced upon them by life. Men must search for humility or perish while continuing a course of action that has no future.
That sets the tone for the article. Men are not humble. No one teaches them to be humble. Men walk around clothed in pure arrogance marking everything as theirs as if they were dogs.
This is an absurd position, made all the more ridiculous because the person claiming that men are not taught humility is presenting himself as humble. Being a humble man, Sliwa knows the proper path to being a good man:
Guilt for being a man is a waste of time. Facing what men have done and continue to do in the name of power, both personally and collectively, is a responsibility that requires hard work. Being loyal to your sex or gender, just because you were born or assigned to it, is misplaced and dysfunctional. Humility requires us to not only unravel our ingrained narrative but it also requires us to listen instead of always speaking and to follow instead of always wanting to lead. It requires us to become allies to those who our power oppresses, abuses, exploits, and destroys on a daily basis.
Usually at this point our collective script kicks in and quickly informs us that none of this applies to us because after all, as individuals we are good guys and we don’t oppress, abuse, exploit or destroy people by our daily actions. What this running explanation fails to tell us, is that patriarchy is systemic. We may be decent individuals but we are severely unaware of the hidden relationships that create the foundation of a life built upon male privilege. That’s how patriarchy works for men. It goes unnoticed by us so in turn we think it’s something that’s not really a problem. We then deny, blame or reject any notions that challenge the dominant male version of existence.
Being a good man means taking responsibility for actions you did not commit. It means holding yourself culpable because someone who shares the same chromosome pattern may have hurt others or benefited at someone’s expense. Even if you did none of those things, simply because you are male you are at fault. Sliwa says that guilt for being a man is a waste of time, yet this is precisely what he asks for. He wants men to feel guilty for being male.
Worse, he wants men to think that they are bad even when they are good. The better you behave, the kinder you are, the worse your “privilege”. You are the worst kind of offender because in your kindness and goodness you think you are being a decent person when the contrary is true. You are maintaining “the Patriarchy” by being a decent human being.
Again, this is an absurd position. The only way to be a good man in Sliwa’s eyes is to submit oneself to an intense self-hatred in which one is always at fault.
We have seen where this mentality can lead. One need only look at religions that tout the inherent sinfulness of its adherents to see how horrible this can become. When one finds that all of one’s actions are sins, one is left in a state of perpetual fear of doing the wrong thing. One’s self-worth drops, as does one’s humility because one cannot be humble if one sees no value in oneself. This leaves a person open to exploitation and manipulation:
The actual hard work is becoming a traitor to our privilege. It’s the most difficult thing to do. If it were easy then the world would be a different place. If it were easy there would be no rape culture, no bathroom bills, no fear-based male aggression. It is our turn to take responsibility. Here is where we can begin:
Begin applying a radical feminist lens to the dominant narrative by listening to, reading and following the work of radical feminists.
Begin applying a transgender lens to the dominant narrative by listening to, reading and following the work of the transgender community.
Begin applying a non-industrial lens to the dominant narrative by listening to, reading and following the work of anti-civilization activists, indigenous peoples (worldwide) and anarchists.
The way to redemption is following people who think that men and boys cannot be raped? The way is following people who think the most important issue is respecting people’s individual pronouns? The way to redemption is rejecting civilization in favor of anarchy?
This is the same low-hanging fruit feminists have fed for years. They never challenge their own narrative, never look at different perspectives, and never ask if there is a better way to address social problems.
Sliwa ends by stating, “Being a better man demands exploration beyond the low hanging fruit we’ve been feeding on since birth. It demands we evolve.”
It is time feminists followed their own words.