English: This is a commonly known general Symb...

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The long (lengthwise as well) awaited blog that I will now write as a feminist and former male in society to give my take on male privilege as it applies to me.  First, to draw a more clear picture of where I placed in that regime.  Male privilege is the property of privilege that occurs in patriarchal society when women’s statuses, agency, and validity is undermined by discrimination and oppression.  People can partake in privilege without actually being aware of it, and male privilege is hardly the only concern for me (a person who wants to see equality across the board).  We live in a kyriarchy, but that isn’t the purpose of this blog.  This blogs purpose will be entirely dedicated to my understanding of any implied male privilege and a discussion of any previous privilege I may have enjoyed either passively or actively.

Passive, Semi-active, and Passing Privilege

I am aware of real instances of male privilege in my life before though mostly in hindsight.  When in public there is a seemingly unwritten rule of respect.  At passing no one could usually make a judgement call about my character to increase or decrease said privilege.  That being said, much of my life was absent of typical male privilege beyond the very basic levels, which one can be aware of but do nothing about.  What I mean by this can be related with this phrase… “Everyone accepted me as a man until I opened my mouth”.  Meaning that much of my passive male privilege was undermined in any in-depth interactions.  Women are as responsible as men to the degree when it comes to supporting the “Stereotypical Male” based male image.  Women interacting with a man who seemed too effeminate immediately begin treating you differently.  So I had passive privilege up until I interacted with people and baffled the gender understanding of me with my demeanor.  However, it is worth mentioning that men are far less forgiving than women with the patriarchal mindset.

Meaning the degree of privilege I lost when dealing with women was less than what I lost when interacting with men.  Our culture has a tendency to breed ignorance when it comes to understanding gender, and as a result people often and quite quickly devalue you based on your femininity.  This is something that has been mentioned extensively by Julia Serrano, so I won’t beat that bush too terribly much.  But as she her book title would put it, culture really does scapegoat femininity; additionally I find that most people’s concept of femininity is kind of wrong.  There is the social definition of feminine and masculine, and then there is every individual perception of femininity and masculinity… Seldom do these things jive.  The reason is that the most basic level our identities play a role in those perceptions, that a strong female identity will be more greatly inclined to find the things she likes as feminine.  This applies to any gender identity.  Some of this, however, is effected by activities that our culture constantly pounds in our head on gender (dish washing, clothing washing, et cetera).  That is where the role of sexism plays in with the constructs around gender.

X-ray of bound feet, China

Just one more example of sexism. This is a picture of what happens in feet binding on an X-ray image. Sexism and the patriarchy has many effects that negatively affect that lives of women and transgender people. (Image via Wikipedia)

Anyhow, the point of this is that the window of perception about masculinity and femininity moves over time, and from place to place.  How this connects with male privilege relates to the degree of femininity you show moves your privilege up and down.  For example, my passive and interactive privilege was higher in Korea than in the US.  That same privilege was greater in Colorado than it was when I lived in Florida because the window of masculine/feminine within the concept of privilege is different depending on where you live.  Now, within this there is an intersection… Male privilege is also modulated by race, religious background, wealth and other factors of concern under kyriarchy.  This contributes as well as the culture you currently live in to passive and interactive privilege.  Your appearance, height, weight and dress also affect this because to a degree these attributes are associated with femininity and masculinity.  At 5’8″ I received considerably less privilege than other men.  My military service compensated for that to a degree in my experience of male privilege because physical fitness also affects it.  My appearance was always a problem though… I always road the outskirts of masculine appearance, only appearing as masculine as I had to be to get by.  Always letting my hair grow, always shaving my face, wearing metro-sexual clothing, et cetera.

However, as an awkward teen who was smaller than almost all the other boys I experienced far less privilege throughout high school.  This was also compounded by the fact that from my late high school years and early military I was occasionally perceived as a woman, either in person or voice.  And here’s the second piece of this…  Sexuality.  People perceived my sexuality as either homosexual, or at least bisexual even though until I transition I was an openly and practicing heterosexual (though now openly pansexual).  Sexuality, or your perceived sexuality and gender expression, is an effective modulator of male privilege.  It is why I make mention of the fact that my male privilege tended to only be passive and brief interactions.  Anything more than that people would automatically draw such conclusions, thus there would be no male privilege beyond a perhaps very slight passive one.  Assertions about a person’s gender expression and sexuality only go so far.  But I do acknowledge that I did experience male privilege, especially in conversations about my ability, or things I knew very well.  As a male people take you and what you say more seriously.  If you tell the doctor your leg hurts he gives you pain medicine.  In conversations you are more readily given a perception of ability.  When you speak it automatically commands authority whether you realize it or not.

Though those interactions are modulated immediately after interaction that privilege always comes into play and it is entirely depended on how other people perceive you.  But in the conversational department I can say that my privilege was slightly more unstable.  My voice has never really been masculine, except when I forced it… It was an habitual thing that was hard to keep up.  As such many of my interactions, more than just changing or negating privilege actually got me scorned, as did many of my other overt gender variations.  As I said before it wasn’t unheard of to be taken for a woman by voice.  I guess what all this boils down to is this… I did experience male privilege, and quite frankly before I transitioned I was woefully unaware of the ones I’ve mentioned.  However, that being said my experience of male privilege was probably no greater than that of an androgynous to effeminate homosexual/bisexual male.

The Birth of Venus (ca. 1485), by Botticelli. ...

Patriarchal power, as well as the standards for women have negative impacts on female self-image regardless of birthright. Art throughout the ages as well as in current day mediums has tended to display women in very sexually objectified ways... Naked males also exist in art but they are greatly outweighed and outnumbered by their female counterparts. The consistent feature influencing that fact is Patriarchal Rule.While sexism is an important issue and a problem of the patriarch, and the base of what we know of male privilege it is important to understand that it isn't just male privilege at play. (Image via Wikipedia)

(Image via Wikipedia)

As a male I passed as a male relatively well, but my appearance still contained ambiguous gender queue’s and even at my most masculine I was far too soft and pretty.  Sometimes feminist can tend to berate transgender feminist about their earlier male privilege, and even claim that when we assert ourselves or our opinions we are speaking from residual privilege.  This tends to be in ignorance of the degree of privilege not given for being gender non-conforming before transition (because it’s hard to hide, even at our best and especially in my case), disregards the internal turmoil that came with being forced to live up to male expectations to our detriment, and plays a very intense role in reinforcing gender roles plus sexism and cissexism.  While we did benefit from being “somewhat” protected from the discrimination and oppression for a period of our lives, and as a result have less internalize oppression, this does not mean that we exist in a state of residual privilege either mentally, emotionally or anatomically.  How well I was perceived as male by others was a problematic issue for me before transition, luckily one I don’t have to worry about anymore.

Active Privilege – (This section may be triggering and may contains mentions of examples of active privilege when it goes too far.)

Active Privilege speaks to elements where men use their status as leverage to marginalize women, or to take advantage, or actively repress their freedoms, needs or agency in light of such privileges.  This is the most dangerous, oppressive and malignant form of privilege … This form of privilege is enacted in situations like in those of date rap, statutory rape, coercion, and other forms of violation against female agency.  This can be something as simple as a boyfriend coercing his girlfriend into having sex though she doesn’t want to.  This also specifically refers to discrimination and degradation of women.  This is not an area of privilege I have experience in and I’ll explain why… As a young child I was beaten and punished very severely for exhibiting behaviors that were not masculine.  There was also physical abuse outside of that… For children who were raised in an abusive and degrading environment one of two common outcomes occurs… Either they become abusers to a degree themselves, or they become overly passive.  I was the later… I was the child who was so afraid of confrontation that I would lock up into a protective body position when someone got aggressive enough with me… In fact, I’d lock up so hard that you could pick me up by my forearms and swing me around and I would keep that shape.  (That has unfortunately been tested in my life.)

So as a result I was very submissive, to the point that I could actually be abused or taken advantage of by my partners.  It was often argued by some of them that I was the woman in the relationship, and this actually proved to be an issue in dating from time to time.  This is because of the cultural linkage of passivity, submissiveness, and softness being associated with women, though this would be quite an inaccurate linkage.  There is nothing in those properties that relates to women.  To put it simply, whether this was because of my passivity or not, I tended to always respect the agency of women.  After-all, I identified with women to such a degree that I was something of a closet feminist even back then.  My military service, ironically, reinforced that because I was put into situations with women who filled roles of authority, and I lived in an environment (for the most part) that treated women as equals and was more concerned with the mission than gender, race, religion, or creed.  I even spent a good deal of my life being something of a closet male hater… I thought men were pigs, and I thought they took advantage of women, and I hated them for it.  I had very few men which exhibited a level of character I expected from men, so as a result I was seldom close to men.  I didn’t want to be a part of their womanizing, sexist, and self-important worlds.  They were the type of men who bragged about their sexual conquests.  The type of men who committed (by legal definition) statutory rape over and over again.  Their lives seemed to revolve around “Getting Fucked up and Banging Chicks”.

No sexism racism homophobia

While sexism is a problem, and extension of the Patriarchy as well as a part of male privilege it is important to know that this isn't the only privilege in existence under the Patriarchy. The repression of homosexuality, transsexuality, gender variance, race, gender identity are all components of the patriarchal strategy for staying in power. Furthermore the gender expressions of transgender and homosexual people are restricted by said heterosexual, male privilege.(Image via Wikipedia)

And that is probably one of the most pestilent, dangerous, and terrifying part of patriarchal male mentalities to me… The perception of entitlement to sex from women carried by men in our society, or as it is better known “Rape Culture”.  Of all types of erosion of female agency, and of all the apathetic, chauvinistic behaviors that exist in this world this is the apex.  I never participated in this type of behavior, and from a young age it was impressed upon me both by my mom and my personal experiences that this sort of behavior was deplorable.  When I was still male I was protected from exposure to a degree to this phenomenon, but being a soft and effeminate male it was never gone.  Men rape, beat and murder effeminate men all the time, so it is still a problem.  It is always something I was afraid of to a degree, but now the idea of being targeted and assaulted in such a way is a terrifying and very real possibility.  And when it comes to being the target of such a crime I am hardly protected by my transgender status, as most people can’t outwardly tell in passing me that I am trans.  If I were targeted by a rapist it is unlikely that he’ll stop and leave me alone once discovering I am transgender, and in fact there is a greater chance the assault will escalate to violent assault and potentially murder (I say he’ll because the vast preponderance of rapists are male).  This probability increases my risk because of transphobia and homophobia comes into play for me which cisgender women do not experience.  I take active measures to protect myself from the possibility of such an occurrence, but I am no more able to protect myself than a woman of the same physical stature as I am.

Because as I have mentioned in earlier posts my body has always produced far too much estrogen and too little effectual testosterone.  As a result as a male I was only a little stronger than average females, and weaker than average males.  This was before I neutralized my testosterone altogether which contributes to the biological strength exhibited by males.  This means I am far weaker now than I was.  Additionally, I am disabled and I have permanent disabilities that reduce my ability to fight back or evade an attacker.  Point is that I am as at risk for this problem in our culture as other women, although certain risks (reproductively) for me don’t exist.  Just like physical appearance effects privilege, it also effects your risk level as a woman.  This applies to all women.  Small framed petite women are at greater risk than large framed tall women.  Muscular women less at risk than dainty women, et cetera.  I think you get the picture.

Probably one of the most common erosion of female agency occurs in the way that men treat women in their objectification, their disparagement, and in the infringing qualities of male privilege.  One of the biggest of those is the tendency of men to disregard the personal space of women they are attracted to.  Men when flirting with a woman in a club tend to go too far into a woman’s space without invitation, often taking a lack of expressed consent as a yes.  This can involve kissing, touching, or groping, and all of it is offensive.  This is also not a type of invasion I have ever perpetrated, however I have had it pushed on me both as a man and as a woman.  Homosexual men can be guilty of abusing the agency of other men, especially men they perceive as passive or effeminate.  I have female friends who have had men kiss them without their permission out of an act of possessiveness, sometimes being acquaintances, and sometimes being and ex-boyfriend or something to that effect.  This is something a lot of men have done, and though it’s far more benign it is still wrong, and quite marginalizing in my opinion.  To all males – Simply because you are attracted to a woman doesn’t give you the right, entitlement to invade her personal space without her permission.  If a woman wants to be left alone, then leave her alone… She has that right and her agency is just as valid as yours.  To all feminists – Simply because I wasn’t born female and aren’t reproductively viable as such doesn’t mean I need to give up any part of my agency or freedom of speech for anyone else’s sake.  In situations where I don’t know, and with things that genuinely don’t apply to me I’ll bow out.  I can’t speak of something I can not, or appropriate something have not experienced.  That being said, I am no less woman than any other and I will not be relegated to the status of whipping girl for anyone’s personal beliefs about the validity of my person, my gender, my rights, or my needs.  My identity is not dependent on anyone else accepting or acknowledging it.

Final Thoughts –

From left to right, Barbie's appearance in the...

It's not enough on its own to end the patriarchy. We also need to reclaim and empower the rights and agency of women and destroy the images and things that objectify and ultimately dehumanize women and transwomen (as transwomen more often fail to mesh with the image of female beauty). (Image via Wikipedia)

Male privilege is a big problem in our society and culture (Rape Culture being the biggest threat), and it both has passively and actively oppressive components, some dangerously so… I am for the equality of all women, and for an end to all implied forms of male privilege.  This is something I have always believed in.  I think patriarchal power has far outlived it’s usefulness if one ever existed.  I once had forms of male privilege that are associated with appearing male, though that privilege varied starkly for those of gender conforming males.  I never used my position of being male as an active oppressive agent, nor would I ever want to… It’s not that I wasn’t capable of it, or that I am somehow unique, but that the status of my character from my experiences, beliefs, values and ideals were very much preventive against such abuses.  They did not occur not because I am an exception, but by virtue of my nature.  That being said, I am very much aware of my earlier privilege, which was quite frankly insufficient to validate me staying in said role.  I never identified with men, and never identified with male privilege which is partly why I wasn’t earlier aware of the forms of privilege I experienced.  I’d argue that this is a common experience among transwomen, or other people who have transitioned gender roles.

Having once partaken of male privilege doesn’t make one a patriarchate, nor does it mean you are an agent of the patriarchy.  This refers to both me, my past, and my gender identity.  Those things are just a part of who I am.  Even if we lived in a gender neutral world I would still feel wrong with my body.  A body part without a body map to match makes the extraneous parts almost vestigial.  No man has any rights over a woman, either rights over her body or her agency, just as no one has rights over my body or agency.  No one defines me.  I define who I am, and I shed all labels which are put there against my will.  I think all people should have that right regardless of gender, sexual orientation, religion, creed, race, disability, gender identity or gender expression.  My existence isn’t dependent on anyone else’s.  Also there is a need for not only women’s spaces, but for the resources for women to find better employment and to have the means they need to be the best they can.  Furthermore, women have a catch-up game to play in addition to fighting against male privilege.  So there is going to be a need for services, and assistance to be brought into existence that patriarchates will interpret as favoritism towards women… Women who are low-income, minorities, or otherwise need help with that uphill battle more than most.  I am for measures to protect, and help women rise above those situations, and for equal pay, including ending the financial and employment disparities that can lead to sex work, et cetera.  But in caution, I recommend against doing it on the backs of others without their consent.

Gender Identity Bill Signing

In the end we are all affected by the patriarchy, and I feel that ended the forced genders mandated by it is also something that is needed. We can't change our bodies to meet other people's expectations, however we can change their perspective. - Gender Identity Bill Signing (Photo credit: Office of Governor Patrick)

Also to many degrees there are issues that are specific to the transgender community that cisgender women don’t have to consider that need mentioning.  The transsexual woman’s body is objectified just as women’s bodies are, but there is a twist to it… More so than with the bodies of cisgender women, the transsexual body is portrayed as being designed/reformed just for males to get pleasure from.  It’s even furthermore denigrated because it’s also considered a taboo.  There is two sides of this… As a transwoman if you have a nice figure you are a “Chick with A Dick” fetish, but if you are anything shy of that Real life Betty Boop with a Cock (perhaps without) your body perceived as disgusting, dirty, unclean, not worthy.  We aren’t just fetishized though, we are also relegated as only being acceptable as a fetish, a genderless sex toy, something neither male nor female, and disposable.  We’re the “fling you don’t tell your guy friends about”, the “dirty little secret”, and “less than human, less than female, less than a woman” in their eyes.  We don’t chose this, and the properties of what make us trans aren’t dependent on anyone’s gender deconstructionist or gender binary conformist views.  Of all things though, being a transfeminist to that degree, I am tired of our narrative being commandeered and demonized for the sake of someone else’s movement .  As I mentioned before, I’ll be no one’s whipping girl.  While there may be a varying array of differences between the effect sexism and the patriarchy play on transwomen and ciswomen, there is a consolidated overarching principle that affects them all similarly but not equally.  The only way we’ll all be free and equal is to “End the Patriarchy”.

As a conclusion, there are many assertion about transgender people within the feminist community and many of them are little more than your run of the mill sexism, cissexism and transphobia.  While as a transwoman I did enjoy the relative safety of male privilege for a time, I am now against and seek to see an end to male privilege.  Furthermore I am not a patriarchate, and I don’t work for them through the dilution of gender or of the meaning of woman/femaleness.  I only wish to have my gender not relegated to erasure, and to have my right to exist and be treated equally.  But in the end this blog was to speak to my position within the concept of male privilege, and to discuss how it affected me as well as the issue of male privilege and the problems of Patriarchy.

*** I welcome critique, advice, and informative commentary at all times.  If anyone feels I am wrong on something, or perhaps need clarification or edit to something I am open to suggestions.  I am learning as much as the next person, and I can only speak from my experiences and things I have learned along the way.  I also urge all men and women to be aware of privilege and oppression rather than facilitating it.  Thank you to my readers and I look forward to hearing your thoughts ***