Who has it?
How do you get it?
Who has the most privilege?
Have I got it?
Well if you are reading these words then you probably have some privilege – you have shelter, electricity, and something to read this on. You also have the political freedom to read whatever you want on the internet. You almost certainly have food, water and a toilet – having your waste removed safely is a privilege many don’t appreciate. You are likely to live in a developed country.
So this is the thing – privilege is relative. As a white, heterosexual, middle class, able-bodied, relatively prosperous, educated woman I have a lot of privilege, though not as much as my husband, because he is all these things and also he is a man.
Male privilege is a thing. It is a man’s world.
As previously outlined, men as a class hold the vast majority of the power and money in the world. In order to protect this power, patriarchy maintains the social order with an effective combination of socialization, economic control, coercion and violence – from domestic abuse to full-blown war.
It also takes more subtle forms. To see a list of these, follow the link: Male Privilege Checklist.
Now it doesn’t matter if a man transitions and attempts to present as a woman – he still has male privilege because he is still a man, was raised as one, and still has the attitude of entitlement that comes with it. Don’t believe me? The main gripe of transwomen is that the people they fancy won’t date them or sleep with them – and they consider this oppressive. Riley J Dennis on YouTube (a vlogger for “Everyday Feminism) talks a LOT about this.
The thing about privilege is that you have it whether you want it or not. I am white – I don’t want to have privilege over people of colour but I must recognize that I do. Once you see that you belong to a group that benefits from the disadvantages of another group, or benefits from their labour, you can start to try and redress the balance; you can fight with your sisters – you can listen and support them.
So here is where we move on to explain how these other types of oppression interact with feminism. Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw coined the term intersectionality to describe how different societal factors intersect with each other to describe the oppression and discrimination people are subjected to. She explicitly refers to the multiple oppressions experienced by women of colour.
This is important because although women as a class are oppressed, we need to recognize that many women face huge additional challenges overcoming discrimination and oppression.
The term ‘intersectionality’ has been taken over by identity politics, essentially using the term to describe what they term trans misogyny – the implication being that transwomen face additional oppression by being women and being trans. This is a misuse of the term, because trans women have male privilege (even if they don’t want it).
It may well be true that transwomen face discrimination, probably based on homophobia and comorbid mental health conditions, but this is not misogyny. Transwomen of colour in countries like Brazil face a great deal of violence, including rape and murder. This is mostly owing to their participation in prostitution – a dangerous occupation for transwomen and women alike.
A currently popular school of feminism insists that intersectionality means supporting all males, transgender and ‘cis‘.
The whole reason and purpose of feminism is to resist male privilege, with the gender hierarchy that supports it. These types of intersectional feminism, then, are actually anti-women.
There are some difficult concepts here, and they are hard to get your head around. Please do ask questions.