I’ve been considering these questions this past while. And (like many of these things) the answer is complex and multifaceted. Sure, it would be easy to generalise and say, “yes, all men have unspoken privileges, one of them being god-like status in most traditions and cultures.”
However, it’s incredibly difficult to sum up an entire group’s experiences as a certain way. Especially when you’re not part of said group.
I’ll tell a little story to get my point across: I’m not trans. I’m male. But there is no group I am less comfortable being around than males.
Males, be they younger or older than me, have this aura to them. It seems innate; like they’re born with it. No matter how they look like or the position they hold in society, when you look at this person, you know THAT’S A MAN. They know how to speak to other men, what the social codes are. They belong.
I don’t feel like I have that. I feel awkward and disjointed around men who possess this, be they hetero- or homo-sexual. Yes, I have a beard. I have a deep voice. Big penis down there. I look like a man.
But I’m also susceptible to being mugged by other men. They can ridicule my (often subconscious) mannerisms that are deemed effeminate.
They can almost smell this “weakness” I seem to radiate. I don’t think its a stretch to say that they see me as “less” of a man.
Is it because I’m gay? I don’t know. Perhaps not at all (There is a “straight-acting” cult amongst Black gay men after all).
Nonetheless, I identify as male. But I’ve never felt the *full* effects of male privilege.
8 out of 10 friends I have are female. The few males I’m able to form friendships with know what I’m talking about. They feel it too.
This goes back to the question I first asked: do all males have male privilege?
To a certain extent, maybe. But I won’t pretend there aren’t males more effeminate than me. Those are the people who suffer the most under our cultural ideas of masculinity and manhood. Mainly because from birth, they’ve never really fit in. Not even for a little while. They’ve always stuck out like a sore thumb. And whether they are transgender women or not, they suffer greatly. Oppression Olympics unnecessary.
Unfortunately, all of society hasn’t exactly caught up. Hence we hear cis women speak about all males possessing male privilege, when they’ve never lived a day in a man’s life to know this for certain.
If I, being a cis male, don’t know how maleness works….how is a transgender woman supposed to know?
I won’t pretend to know much about transgender people. But I ask myself every day: why would a person who’s walked the streets as a man suddenly decide they want to be a woman? Especially knowing how emotionally taxing the transitioning process is. Especially knowing how many privileges they’d lose as a result.
But maybe they never had any of those privileges to begin with.
When it’s all said and done, I don’t really have to understand. I just have to listen, and take it from there.
I’m listening. I hope you are, too.