As I come closer to completing my transition, I have learned what male privilege is by becoming more aware of no longer benefitting from male privilege as time goes by. This topic is much like male privilege itself; easy to enjoy if you have it and like an onion that you peel as you come to understand it in the context of what is lost.
It isn't the easiest thing to define. You know it when you experience it and you know it when you experience its loss. Of course when you lose male privilege in transitioning, you also learn about female privilege. Its a trade off and each has its benefits and its costs. Female privilege is a discussion for another time.
When you have male privilege, you don't worry where you park at night. You park wherever you want where you can find a parking place. Not anymore for me; now it is important to park as close to the door as possible when out shopping at night, and you are looking for a place under the parking lot light as well. It feels even safer if you have someone to escort you to your car and be sure you are safe when leaving. When you leave the restaurant or mall, you are sure to have your keys in your hand when you walk to your car, and you look under your car from a distance to be sure no one is under it. You look at the floor of your back seat to be sure no one has broken in. That is something you need to learn, it's part of being safe when you are a woman. We just learn it a lot later because we didn't grow up without male privilege. Most women are aware of and have developed strategies to cope with male privilege when they were young girls. It was a life long lesson. Becoming aware that you don't have that privilege can be most surprising when you notice it. I appreciate that Dana, my therapist took the time to spend teaching me about being safe as a woman in our world when I first began traveling to give workshops around the country.
Another aspect of male privilege is in the difference about how men and women are expected to handle conflict. Men can be confrontive and do not expect to be subjected to poor treatment in their interactions with others when they perceive that they are not being treated fairly. Now I am learning to be mild in expressing dissatisfaction with how I am treated and to attempt resolve a dispute in a gentle and conciliatory manner. This was pointed out to me very directly by two women I know after a conflict with another health care provider over HIS inconveniencing me at my job over not keeping to his scheduling.
I have noticed that when in conversation with a group of men, my opinion or that of another woman presen, is frequently asked as an afterthought, if at all, and usually I dont venture an opinion unless asked. I had to work on that one!
I don't see some grand plan to keep a woman in a one down position by the patriarchy in all of these examples. Many of these culturally oriented differences in privilege have developed, right or wrong, due to things we tend to be better at for a host of reasons. Some of these differences are archaic, some are based on biological differences, some are based on the biological differences in our dispositions as a man or a woman and some are derived from social roles. I appreciate a man who will offer to help me carry heavy objects and offer to to make sure I get to my car safely. I like it when a door is opened for me too. I think it's ok to ask for help.
These are some of the observations I have had since transitioning. Have you experiences with the loss of male privilege you would like to share?