The stubbornness of chauvinism

I was directed to a tumblr post that greatly dismayed me. Written by a woman who regularly takes public transit in Los Angeles, it talks about how often he is approached by men who are aggressive and, in the case she recounts in full, deeply threatening and scary.

The point raised is not that sexism is rampant or that men are pigs. Rather it is going to a core idea, for which these things are symptoms. It is the issue of male privilege- the inherent advantages men have in life, regardless of their socioeconomic background. The issue with critiquing them is that most men do not notice these advantages, or dismiss the idea as petty feminism. It is very difficult to cope with an unearned, background aspect of your life.

I was born a white male who, unlike my parents, was raised in a background of privilege rather than working-class self-reliance.  Privilege is embedded in me, and it defines my interactions with other people; particularly, it defines my interactions with people that are not white, well-to-do, and male. Activism, going to a UU church that focuses on inequality and entering public education at the age of 19 have made these interactions more frequent and laden with importance. The evening speech class I am taking this semester has a great many people in menial jobs trying to get a later-life education and improve their chances of moving up. It is quite different from my stint in an expensive and prestigious liberal arts college. Many colleges are cocoons, and they price out a great deal of reality.

Ultimately, what dismays me the most about these posts is that a lot of these men are under forty. I would hope that people whose lives have included the backdrop of modern feminism would refrain from the same callous chauvinism that their fathers and grandfathers had. Seeing someone my own age (three people in the post are mentioned as being about eighteen) act like a sixty year old man is disheartening. While I know that gender relations are still evolving, and should, sometimes I think that at this point we as a society should be further along.

Author: AJM

Writer, sociologist, Unitarian Universalist.

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