Countering Male Privilege

Rahul asked the following question here.

As an aside, I have often wondered , if just by existing as an upper caste male, and not necessarily by any acts of commission or omission by me individually, I am being party to an unjust system that benefits me,

then what is my moral obligation?

I felt both happy that a man bothered to ask this question and surprised that no woman replied to him so far. He addressed me, but the question is a rather open one and there are many female commenters in BR’s blog. This post is basically a reply to that question. Quite obviously Male Privilege is no particular guy’s fault. It just is there around us like the air we breathe. We kind of get used to it over time. It is all pervasive and affects so many facets of women’s life. So I am just taking one example in which well-meaning men can do a certain something for the women around them. I am not taking problems like safety, glass ceilings and generic misogyny as they are such sprawling topics. It is much easier to discuss one problem at a time.

Please read this.

This is a surprisingly common scenario which pretty much every woman faces. Here gounderbrownie fights for the right to visit a toilet. She asks

Why did I have to make a fuss for the driver to comprehend that this was an important issue? Why didn’t the husbands/fathers/sons accompanying the other women speak up if they themselves felt shy of asking the driver to stop?

But I am not feeling as charitable about the other women as GB does. Those women even if they did not open the topic themselves, let GB the battle all alone and then used the facilities when she won the battle single handedly.

There is no evidence that anyone even thanked the lady. This is the type of invertebrates that we like to honour with the title “Adakamaana Ponnu”. As for me, even if I had not wanted to use the loo, I still would have joined forces with her just so that she is not alone when she is fighing the fight.

But this is a good example when men can put aside their privilege and apathy and speak up. It would have cost very less embarrasment to the men in the bus to have just verbally supported the lady. Men who bother to “accompany” their own mother/wife/etc are so quiet when another woman needs help. This is a problem that can so easily be solved.

I assume that chivalry arose as a type of counter to Male Privilege. So that men take it upon themselves to help women in these circumstances. It seems to have deteriorated over time. Chivalry often seems to imply that women are inferior and so should take some male help. Chivalry should be practised only when needed. And only when there is obvious Male Privilege at play. I agree with what Bhagwad says here.