Translate this blog.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Losing Male Privilege

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?

16 comments:

  1. What an interesting blog. i had no idea about male privileges. As for me i think i gave a lot of those privileges up before i finally began my journey.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You know I have yet to begin my visible transition. Yet I know something about this male privilege thing. I realize that your blog is a thought starter, as there is much more to male privilege. Things as simple as standing up to go number one, and as important as less opportunity for career advancement and lower pay for the same work.

    This blog is timely, as I just wrote a passage in my book about how the wife of a trans woman realizes that her husband will be giving up this male privilege, and how that adds to her fear.

    Thanks for raising this subject, and I will be interested in reading the replies.

    Hugs, little sister

    ReplyDelete
  3. Kimberly Ann,

    Can you describe how you gave up male privilege before you transitioned? I've heard people say that before, but never understood how they would go about such an undertaking.

    Several years ago, I decided that, since I am a woman, that I would always sit to relieve myself. This was not a big deal, as this is what I have always done at home. After about 6 months, I contracted a severe prostate/bladder infection. I have never been so sick in my life! After that, I decided to resume the male privilege of standing to pee.

    I also didn't think is was in my family's best interest to tell my boss that I wanted to be paid less for doing the same work.

    But at the same time, actually giving up male privilege in exchange for living a life of congruence seems to me to be a fair trade.

    Hugs

    ReplyDelete
  4. My "privilege lessons" can be boiled down to one day my car broke down and I had to call a wrecker driver to get it home.
    To make matters worse a well meaning sheriff stopped to make sure everything was OK.
    Finally, he asked for my very male ID but sort of shrugged it off.
    To make a long story short, both of them totally ignored by directions to get to MY house.
    Then on the way home the driver went out of his way to tell me everything except that a tire rolls because it's round.
    I finally got tired of the process and started to play the dumb blond and asked questions like whats that big yellow thing in the sky and how does that big wrecker thing in the back worked.
    Female privilege? No. Just playing with someone. Fun.
    Got to say the next wrecker driver I had to hire was NOT so fun!

    ReplyDelete
  5. JinianVictororia HMay 28, 2012 at 9:46 AM

    Losing male privilege. All of what you say I have experienced. That which I lost was brought home to me very forcefully when I was first dating....it seemed like a small thing yet so big. My date opened the car door for me and walked on the outside as we went to the store. I t was then I realized why it just felt so different... I was used to doing that for a lady now it was being done for me. Another thing was when I had to summon a tow trucj after my brake line ruptured, a highway patrol officer showed up and stayed with me until the tow truck driver had towed my vehicle and then drove me to the repair shop as well. Sure it was a polite thing to do and he probably disrupted his patrol routine but would he have done that for a male? I really dont think so. Its the simple things that bring it home what we have lost as males and what we have gained as female.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I had a experience where I ran out of gas , thankfully I always have a gas can with gas in it for emergencies . I could not open the gas can , a nice individual (male) , stopped asked if I needed assistance , and helped me . As a male I would be stuck dealing with it on my own. Since transitioning , doors are opened for me , my male friends walk on the outside when we are walking. I also noticed that when in a discussion with males , nothing I say is heard , and i'm usually ignored in a conversation. As a woman my opinion with males seems less important. It did take adjusting to not having male priviledge , once I realized I was losing it. Is the loss of male priviledge a loss in my opinion , no! I have embraced female priviledge as with majority of women. Males seem to think women are week , which is a attitude that needs to change!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm the Technology Director in a mid-size K-12 suburban school district. I am very proficient in a wide range of technical areas. Prior to my transition, I was the proverbial "EF Hutton" ...when I spoke, people listened. (Showing my age a bit here? lol) After my transition, I practically don't exist (still in the same job). When I meet with vendors and bring my lead tech with me, a man some 15 years my junior, after introductions, they invariably direct their questions and conversations to him...even the female vendors! It's a constant battle to remind them who is making the decision.

    Want to experience the loss of male privilege as a very condensed experience? Try buying a car (at a car dealership...individual sellers may vary)! As a man, the discussion was performance, capabilities, finances, etc. As a woman, even at the same dealership, it's about color, convenience options, cup holders and mirrors. Of course, I must admit that I do enjoy toying with the salesman by letting him play the big strong know-what's-best-for-little-ol-me for a bit then do a 180 and start discussing the finer points of a 3 valve vs 4 valve engine, turbo lag and low end torque capabilities, but then that's just me. Hey, I paid a dear price for that "male" knowledge and I am going to use it to my advantage...and if I can have a little fun with it at the same time, what the hey!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The third transgender I met was a Goth-Metal drummer I met on MySpace (this was a while back). I actually went to her McJob at a costume shop to check out wigs. Anyway I got to mentioning my bass rig, and she had photographed herself with her kit, so I asked. She described everything from the wing nuts on her cymbals to the springs on her bass pedals never once uttering the term "thingie" (well...not in that context). After I collected my lower jaw from the floor my only response could be: "Marry Me?" Alas she had a girlfriend :(,,,,,.

      Delete
  8. On male privilege:

    I was an electronics technician for over forty years and a capable one.

    One thing that drove me nuts was when discussing difficult technical problems. At every place I worked, when one tech had a hard problem all the techs would get together to brainstorm causes and possible solutions.

    When I was male my input was considered on its merit just as the others would be. As a female, the guys (they were all male) would try everyone else's suggestion before trying mine.

    Having my technical ability treated that way because they came from a woman was a real annoyance. And the funny part is that the men never realized that they were doing it!

    ReplyDelete
  9. To me, the loss of being perceived as a predator, and especially a predator of children, is the most appreciated female privilege gained with transition. I always hated being seen as a predator.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Well, Sherri I nrver had much male priviledge because I was treated like a female even in male mode: ignored, patronized etc. Oh, I certainly had some male priviledge, no doubt, but it wasn't like what I saw with most males, of course one not taking sexists remarks and wife downing jokes w/o a slight rebuke did not enamour me among men so I was not welcomed in the maen's club even before transition.

    I took two reps from a customer to lunch this week. Nikki is a senior salesperson and Jennifer is a quality engineer, as I once was. We talked alot about how difficult it is to be female and in the work force. One could sense the sadness Jennifer has endured losing her ex because she had to spend more time at the office than he liked. All three of us spoke reverently of the head of our division's aerospace business, a woman from Canada who has paid a dear price, losing her husband to another woman, because she was busy holding a job and the fact that she is now a single mother trying to maintain a very high level position. Nikki, changed her position in the company for a lower paying job so she doesn't have to travel as much in order to be with her two teenage boys. Of course, I guarded my words carefully because they believe me to be a GG like them, but I relate to what women endure. We all agreed that we have to be twice as good as male peers just to even be considered close to equal.

    In short, there is alot about being a female that is not desirious. I happen to know of two GGs that would rather be men. One because she is tomboyish and wants to be treated the same when she plays rugby. She loves contact sports, but men either shun her or treat her with as if she will break apart if she gets hit. Another woman I have known is super attractive, but is soured on life because she has seen her beauty gives her perks she really doesn't want. Her intellegence is not taken seriously, so she has learned to disdain her own gender.

    I don't regret my transition one bit because living as the real me is it's own reward, but being a woman is not all that great, it just...is.

    ReplyDelete
  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Well, Sherri I never had much male priviledge because I was treated like a female even in male mode: ignored, patronized etc. Oh, I certainly had some male priviledge, no doubt, but it wasn't like what I saw with most males, of course one not taking sexists remarks and wife downing jokes w/o a slight rebuke did not enamour me among men so I was not welcomed in the men's club even before transition.

    I took two customer reps to lunch this week. Nikki is a senior salesperson and Jennifer is a quality engineer, as I once was. We talked alot about how difficult it is to be female in the work force. One could sense the sadness Jennifer has endured losing her ex because she had to spend more time at the office than he liked. All three of us spoke with sad reverence of the head of our division's aerospace business, a woman from Canada who has paid a dear price, losing her husband to another woman, because she was busy holding a job and the fact that she is now a single mother trying to maintain a very high level position. Nikki spoke of how she changed her position in the company for a lower paying job so she doesn't have to travel as much in order to be with her two teenage boys. Of course, I guarded my words carefully because they believe me to be a GG like them, but I relate to what women endure. We all agreed that we have to be twice as good as our male peers just to even be considered close to equal. That is especially true in engineering/technical jobs such as held by Jennifer.

    In short, there is alot about being a female that is not desirious. I happen to know of two GGs that would rather be men. One because she is tomboyish and wants to be treated the same when she plays rugby. She loves contact sports, but men either shun her or treat her as if she will break apart if she gets hit. Another woman I have known is super attractive, but is soured on life because she has seen beauty gives her perks she really doesn't want. Her intellegence and wit are not taken seriously, so she has learned to disdain her own gender and envies the respect men automatically obtain by simply being male.

    I don't regret my transition one bit because living as the real me is it's own reward, but being a woman is not all that great, it just...is.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I really appreciate this article and all the comments here. As a female person my whole life, I stopped living as a "man" about five years ago and have been living intentionally as a woman for over two.


    I never actively used my male privilege, but I have come to realize that I benefited from it passively. I too have noticed that my opinion is an engineer is pretty much overlooked despite my senior knowledge and experience. This was actually what I expected, but it is a little sad...not so much my personal loss, but I see so much more clearly what our cis and trans sisters much go through.

    What brought me to this article is that I am trying to learn coping strategies for trans women who need to support themselves, but what they knew depended on their male privilege. I have several friends who are struggling to work, and at least one has turned to sex work, reinforcing her deep sense that we as women are simply sex objects to men. How sad, but if all you have is a body when your brain and experience are ignored, then what are you going to do to eat? It is so sad...

    I feel like I am at the far-end of my transition "tunnel" where I am now coping with life as a woman and moving-on from the intensity of my transition. It's not all over, but as I progress in my *becoming* it is increasingly with the help of cis folk (but I am "simply open" so people who know me will know me as a woman of transsexual experience). Soooo, I am also wondering about "female privilege" and the main thing I have experienced is my freedom of expression and the fact that I am not perceived to be a threat simply for being myself.

    Again, thank you all, and especially the "at night" safety tips: I too am used to going anywhere anytime (even though I've always considered myself somewhat vulnerable). I haven't been thinking about looking under the car or in the back seat. I NOW lock the door as soon as I gracefully enter the car pulling the door closed as I seat myself.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Biological female here. First off let me say, your gender is whatever it is and if you say it's female, I accept that. I'd also like to say, for those of you thinking it's so nice that a man is willing to stop by the side of the road and help you out when your car brakes down, if you had grown up female, what you would be thinking when you saw a man was pulling over while you are stuck on the side of the road would be "Is he going to kidnap, rape, torture, and kill me?" A woman's perpetual fear for her safety plays a significant role in her life, more so that sitting to pee (which is done only for the fact that we have to), typing in pink (which only teenaged girls do), and using compound first names (this is a give away, because most biological females don't have names comprised of two first names...just saying as a tip, not as an attack), anyway, it's a good thing some of you are coming to recognize this, particularly if you pass, or are on testosterone blockers, because there are a lot of opportunistic predators out there, and once you lose the muscle mass, you will be about half as strong as they are.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hello Anonymous, thank you for taking the time to comment on my blog. Your point is taken on the color of the type I chose for my blog, but I thought it went well with the overall color of my blog theme :)

    Yeah it is nice when a man is going to offer to lift something that is almost too heavy for me to pick up anymore, but the thought of being broken down on the side of the road, especially at night is terrifying. I now live my life with the same fears that women grow up with, that some man will sexually assault me or perhaps worse, kill me and leave me in a ditch.
    I am not known as "Lauren Elisabeth", just Lauren, but I didn't want to publish my last name as a meager measure of privacy...
    Because of the tone of your post, I don't feel that your post was a personal attack. I do see a lot of helpful practical advice that, while I was already aware of (except of how the color of my font comes across), some of my readers may not and I appreciate you taking the time to contribute to my blog.
    Sincerely,
    Lauren

    ReplyDelete