Saturday, June 16, 2007

New Privilege Exposed/Discovered

Well I was just reading the comments in The post on the post on marriage over at I Blame the Patriarchy and I ran into this in a comment by maribelle (excerpt):

Ways in which his male privilege rears its ugly head:

1. The privilege of always being right. This is HUGE. He simply cannot see himself as wrong about anything–from whether to make a left turn on Maple to how we raise our children. No large or small mistake can penetrate his consciousness. Even if he’s obviously, demonstrably wrong, (i.e. sinking in a bog near Maple) it is never talked about again. (Three years of therapy later there are grudging apologies, but usually so sour they are an insult in and of themselves. Best thing about therapy–he never yells now. I love that. They can learn. He told me when we married that he was “nothing if not trainable.” That has been generally accurate–about some things.)

#1 alone ensures that our marriage will be forever unequal.

But there’s more:

2. The privilege of always being smarter. He has a PhD. I have a BA. If I happen to know some fact that he doesn’t, from some obscure fact about the Trojan war to Alberto Gonzalez’s latest DOJ outrage, it fries his ass and he has to look it up independently, then act as though my knowledge of a topic predating his were a freak accident.

To this end, he will MAKE UP INFORMATION. I kid you not. Someone will ask a question and he will extrapolate on some subject on which he knows nothing. If I call him on it (in private) he shrugs it off as seeming reasonable or inferable from the facts at hand. In my book, I call it “lying.”

3. The privilege of thinking he’s better at something than I am. Anything and everything, including my areas of professional and amateur expertise.

4. The privilege of choosing his own work. Yes, he “helps” a lot around the house–some weeks he does more than I. But what chaps my hide is that he always picks the jobs he wants to do, and I am expected to pick up the rest. EX: He “cycles laundry” (puts in washer/dryer) but our daughter and I fold it. Yet every Sunday as he lists the chores he did that weekend ( a bizarre ritual at which I am expected to coo and bill) he lists “I did the laundry.” Whatever.

He NEVER scrubs the pans because he “hates” it. (Me, I live for it.) He cooks because he hates to do dishes. He mows the lawn because he WILL NOT vac and dust. on and on.

#3 and #4 I don't really have a problem with anymore, though #3 was definitely a problem for a while. The second half of #2 also used to be a problem, but isn't anymore. Of course I thought of it as being pretentious more than privilege, but whatever.

I still have huge problems with one and two. My further problem is that I don't really know how to deal with them. A bid part of that is because the stuff that I've dealt with already is often a matter of behavior whereas the ones I have problems with are more assumptions I am making about myself and other people. I have tried to change my behavior in regards to these, but I notice that I still immediately think them and instead of saying something I just suppress what I would say, or I do this when I am being aware of myself and my actions.

I really need to figure out how to attack them at the root of the problem, the assumptions.


Monika said...

Do you think your 'problems' with one and two stem from behaviours, or from your thoughts / world view / view of self and others.

I ask because where you think the problem exists, would be where you tackle it.

I cannot tell you how to 'fix' this as you are the expert of yourself. However, you may want to consider how this privilege serves you. Is it in defense of anything? Is it covering anything? When does it happen the most? The least? What would you lose if you let it go?
What would you risk if you explored different ways of being?

... said...

I, being the female that shares a life with you, am definitely aware of the struggles you have with #1 and #2. From the beginnings of knowing each other and realizing that you are a "hand-raiser" it has been a hard for me a lot, but I do agree that there has been changes in the last year for sure.

as for attacking assumptions, I think that being aware of them is really the first step (or at least or has been for me in the process of unlearning). I like what monika had to say about how the assumptions serve you. You might also want to spend some time being really specific with yourself about the assumptions you are making, writing them down and really taking the time to see if they are actually justified, or if you can find examples in your life that negate them, or have shown you that there are other possible ways of understanding something. For example, you might assume that you are smarter than a woman because you are a man - but then you could just think about how brilliant your girlfriend is and then you would know that this assumption does not always hold water.