When I was born my grandfather congratulated my dad for having a son, and thanked my mother for giving my father a son. I got my grandfather’s name.
When I was a child, I could play with LEGO, because “Lego is a boy thing” and that helped my creativity. My ability to solve problems was stimulated.
I got HotWheels car-washes and gas stations. I also got a box of plastic tools, to assemble and disassemble toy cars and trucks. That also stimulated my creativity and developed my logic capability, which is good for every child.
In my school day, the girls wore skirts and my friends lifted their skirts. It was a mess, So they were forbidden to wear skirts. I never saw a boy actually get punished for it though, after all “Boys are just like that. Took after his father this menace” - is what I usually heard
At home, with my family, I liked to play house with a younger cousin. We were around eight. I was the dad, she was the mom and the dolls were our children. While playing, when i carried the dolls in my arms my mother would get mad: “Let go of that doll boy, that’s a girl thing”. And my little cousin’s father, when he saw us playing, wouldn’t let her do it either. He said boys play with boys and girls play with girls because “boys are very stupid, and worse, very forward”. I did not consider myself stupid, and did not understand what he meant by “forward”, but I still did as I was told
At Christmas, my sister got a Barbie and I got a beyblade. She cried a bit because my toy was much cooler than hers, but every year my mother made the same mistake, and got her a doll, a toy stove, a toy fridge, a blender, everything pink, once mom got her an iron
When I turned 15 and started dating, my father bought me some condoms
During my teenage years, no one criticized me for kissing lots of girls. Nowadays, that still stands.
My father does not get mad at me when I don’t come home for the night, He does not say I need to be a “family boy”. He never slapped me in the face for thinking I’d spent the night at a motel.
No one lectures me saying I need to be reserved and play hard to get.
No one judges me when I want to be with a girl and take initiative
No one cares about my clothes; no one says I have to preserve myself.
No one says I have to preserve myself because “women only think about sex”
No one think my girlfriends were only with me for sex.
No one thinks that, when I have sex, that I’m submitting to the wishes of my partner
No one demonizes my orgasms.
I was never judged for carrying condoms in my backpack or in my wallet
I never had to hide my condoms from my parents.
I was never told to marry a virgin because I was a man
I was never told that “men have to value themselves” or that I had to “give myself the respect”. Apparently, my gender already makes me worthy of respect.
When I go out into the streets no one tells me I’m “delicious”
No unknown woman shouts “smoking hot” my way
I can walk down the streets having an ice cream cone at ease, because I know I won’t hear things like “drop that and come suck me”. I can even walk down the streets eating a banana
I never had to cross a street, even though it was out of my way, to avoid a group of women in a bar, who will probably catcall me when I pass, embarrassing me
I never had to walk in sweatpants, because my shorts leave my legs exposed, and that could be dangerous
I never heard someone say I was “shameless” because I went out without a shirt
No one regulates my work out clothes
No one cares about my clothes period.
I was never followed by a woman in a car when I was walking back home
I can catch a crowded subway everyday and surely no woman will rub against me, to record it and throw it on some porn website
No one ever had to create a subway wagon that was “just for men”
I never heard of someone of my gender being raped by a crowd
I can get on a bus by myself in the middle of the night
When I’m not carrying anything valuable, I no longer feel threatened, because I don’t fear getting raped at any moment, at every corner. That risk does not exist in the minds of the people of my gender.
When I go out at night I can wear whatever clothes I want.
If I suffer any kind of violence, no one blames me for being drunk, or for wearing certain clothes
If, one day, I was raped, no one would say it was my fault; that I was somewhere inadequate, that I had on a revealing outfit
No one would try to justify the rape based on my behavior
I would be treated as a VICTIM and that would be it.
No one thinks I’m vulgar because when it’s cold, my nipples show through my shirt
When I have sex with a woman on the first date I practically get a standing ovation. No one calls me a “tramp”, or “easy” or a “whore” because I have casual sex sometimes
99% of porn websites are made to please me and men in general
No one is shocked when I say I watch porn
No one judges me if I say I love sex
No one cares if I read erotic literature
No one is surprised to hear I masturbate
No mother-in-law will tell her daughter not to marry me because I’m not a virgin
No one criticizes me for investing in my career
When I have the same job position as a woman, my salary is never inferior to hers
If I am promoted, no one says it’s because I slept with my boss. People believe in my merit
If I have to travel for work and leave my kids with their mother for a few days no one calls me irresponsible
No one finds it strange that, at thirty years old, I still don’t have kids
No one guesses my sexual orientation based on the length of my hair
When my hair starts to grey, people will find it sexy, not think I’m letting go of myself
Society does not see my virginity as a prize
90% of military services are destined to people of my gender, even the higher jobs, in which the official only deals with paperwork and management
If I go out with a certain outfit no one says I’m “asking for it”
If I’m at a club and a woman performs oral sex on me, I’m not the “whore” or the “tramp”, she is.
If a video of me having sex with a woman gets leaked, no one will call me names, criticize me, stone me. I won’t be the “disgusting little bitch” I won’t be “trash” or “used” or “cheap”. I’d just be the man, fulfilling my alpha guy position in society.
If I lead a promiscuous lifestyle and then fall in love with just one woman, people think its beautiful. No one judges me based on my past.
No one says it’s disgusting if I don’t shave myself
No one would judge me for being a single dad. On the contrary, I’d be seen as a hero.
I’ll never be stopped from occupying a higher position in the Catholic Church for being a man
I was never beaten up for being a man
I was never obligated to do housework for being a man
I never had the obligation to learn how to cook for being a man
No one tells me my place is in the kitchen for being a man
No one says I can’t curse for being a man
No one says I can’t drink for being a man
No one stares at my plate if I put a lot of food in it
No one justifies my foul mood by blaming it on hormones
No one has ever made jokes that undermined my intelligence for being a man
When I sometimes mess up in traffic no one says “It had to be a man”
When I’m polite to a woman she doesn’t automatically assume I’m hitting on her
The term “tramp stamp” did not come into existence because men were seen as cheap
No one treats my body as just a tool for giving pleasure to the opposite sex
No one thinks I’ll have to be submissive to a future wife
I was never judged for drinking beer at table in which I was the only man
I’m never the target audience for house cleaning products ads
I’m the target audience for beer ads
No one’s ever asked me if my girlfriend lets me cut my hair. I cut it when I want to and people understand that.
There isn’t haze at USP (a university) that promotes my humiliation and objectification
Society doesn’t split my gender in “to marry” and “to whore”
When I say “no” no one thinks I’m just playing hard to get. No is no.
I don’t have to dress a certain way to avoid having women falling into temptation
People of my gender were not raped each 40 minutes in São Paulo last year
People of my gender don’t get raped every 12 seconds in Brazil
People of my gender didn’t get raped by a crowd during protests in Egypt
I’m not a man. But if you are, it’s fundamental to admit that society AS A WHOLE needs feminism
Don’t underestimate suffering that you don’t understand.
Camila Oliveira Dias
(This was originally in portuguese and I translated it, there are very slight alterations, because some expressions don’t have exact correspondents in english, I did my best, if you find any typos please message me, and I will correct them.)
Years ago, a friend went to a party, and something bothered him enough to rant to me about it later. And it bothered me that he was so incensed about it, but I couldn’t put my finger on why. It seemed so petty for him to be upset, and even more so for me to be annoyed with him.
Recently, something reminded me of that scenario, and it made more sense. I’ll explain.
The party was a house party. One of those parties people throw if they’re renting a good-sized house in college. You know the type—loud music, Solo cups of beer, and somebody doing something drunk and stupid before the end of the night.
At some point, my friend had occasion to use the bathroom. When he went into the bathroom, he was disgusted to see that the hostess had left a basket of feminine hygiene products on the counter for guests to use if needed.
Later, when my friend told me about it, he wrinkled his nose and said, “Why would she do that? Guys don’t want to see that!”
When I suggested that she was just making them available in case a woman needed them, he insisted that they could be left in the cabinet or under the counter. Out of sight, anyway.
I wish I’d had, at the time, the ability to articulate what I can now.
To me, this situation is, while relatively benign, a perfect example of male privilege.
A man walks into the bathroom and sees a reminder that women have periods. And he’s disgusted. He wants that evidence hidden away because it offends his senses. How dare the hostess so blatantly present tampons and pads where a man might see them? There’s no reason for that!
A woman walks into the bathroom and sees that the hostess is being extra considerate. She gets it. She knows what it’s like to have a period start unexpectedly. The feeling of horror because she’s probably wearing something she doesn’t want ruined—it is a party after all. The sick embarrassment because someone might notice, especially if she’s wearing light-colored clothes, or worse, sat on the hostess’s white couch. The self-conscious, semi-nauseated feeling of trying to get through a social event after you’ve exhausted every avenue to get your hands on an emergency pad or tampon, and you’re just hoping to God that if you tie your jacket around your waist—you brought one, right?—keep your back to a wall, clench your buttcheeks, squeeze your thighs tightly together, and don’t…move…at…all—you might get through the evening, bow out gracefully, and find an all-night convenience store with a public restroom.
Or maybe she came to the party during her period, but didn’t bargain for her flow to suddenly get that heavy. Or she desperately needs a tampon, but her purse is in a room where a couple is not to be disturbed. Maybe she doesn’t know the hostess well enough to ask if she can use one. Or she doesn’t know anyone at the party well enough to ask. Or she figures she can make do with some wadded up toilet paper or something.
Whatever the case, she walks into the bathroom, and she hears the hostess saying “Hey, I know what it’s like, and just in case, I’ve got your back.” She sees someone saving her from what could be a minor annoyance or a major embarrassment.
The hostess gets it. The woman who just walked into the bathroom? She’s either going to see that the person throwing the party is super considerate, or she’s going to be whispering thanks to Jesus, Krishna, and whoever else is listening because that is a basket full of social saviors.
But to the guy who wrinkled his nose, it’s still offensive that those terrible little things are on the counter, reminding his delicate sensibilities that the playground part of a woman is occasionally unavailable due to a gross bodily function that he should never have to think about.
In the grand scheme of things, it’s a tiny thing. It’s a tiny annoyance for the man, and a more significant but relatively tiny courtesy for the woman. After all these years, my friend has probably forgotten, but I never have. As a woman whose life is partially governed by a fickle uterus that can ruin an evening faster than a submerged iPhone, his story has stuck with me.
How can you be so offended by a small gesture that has zero effect on you, but could make such an enormous difference to the person who needs it?
It occurs to me now that this is a small but effective illustration of how men and women see the world. It’s part of the same thought process that measures a woman’s value through her bra size and her willingness to have sex with him—that everything about us is displayed or hidden based on how men perceive them or what he wants to get from us. Unattractive women should be as covered as possible, while attractive ones shouldn’t be hiding their assets from male eyes (or hands, or anything else he wishes to use).
A woman who isn’t smiling is an affront to him because it detracts from her prettiness, despite the fact that there might be a legitimate reason for her not to smile (or more to the point, that there isn’t a legitimate reason for her to smile). Her emotional state is irrelevant because she’s not being pretty. It’s the line of thinking where a man blames anything other than cheerful sexual consent on the woman being a bitch, being a lesbian, or—naturally—being on her period. Everything we do, from our facial expressions to our use of hygiene products, are filtered through the lens of “how it looks to a man.”
It’s the line of thinking where a small gesture from one woman to another, an assurance that someone else understands and will help her without question or judgment, a gesture which could save a woman’s evening from being ruined, is trumped by a man’s desire to see an untainted landscape of pretty, smiling women with visible cleavage and vaginas that never bleed.
I think the average guy thinks they’re pro-woman, just because they think they’re a nice guy and someone has told them that they’re awesome. But the truth is far from it. Unless you are actively, consciously working against the gravitational pull of the culture, you will predictably, thematically, create these sort of fucked-up representations.
When people with privilege hear that they have privilege, what they hear is not, “Our society is structured so that your life is more valued than others.” They hear, “Everything, no matter what, will be handed to you. You have done nothing to achieve what you have.”
That’s not strictly true, and hardly anyone who points out another’s privilege is making that accusation. There are privileged people who work very hard. The privilege they experience is the absence of barriers that exist for other people.
I’m really unbelievably tired of (mostly male) characters being “redeemed” from their bad attitudes, bad manners,
poor treatment of other characters, etc. by the big reveal of their supposed genius.
Being intelligent (no matter how intelligent) doesn’t make a person worth more than anyone else. It doesn’t excuse any of those things. It isn’t a get-out-of-jail-free card for bad behavior, and having other skills (no matter what they are) doesn’t justify never prioritizing learning how to not hurt the people around them.
It’s not an excuse.
And I think this is especially important to bring up for (mostly white) male characters, because actual men outside of fiction are excused by society in the same way that narratives excuse them in fiction. As long as they’re perceived by society as being “more important” than other people (which they already are by default if they’re men, and even more so if they’re white, etc.), any inappropriate, harmful, or offensive behavior toward other people is excused.
The excuses are always that it would be “hard” for someone who is SO INCREDIBLY GIFTED to… be kind? Show compassion? Consider the effects of their actions on others and act accordingly?
Fundamentally the trope is ableist (by basing someone’s worth around their mental capacity), with undertones of classism and racism (in the same ways that IQ tests are classist and racist), and it perpetuates a narrative of male privilege and entitlement.
And by the way, if you were reading this post and thinking “Is this about [specific male character who does this]?” then the answer is yes.