In every society there are things that come easier to some people than to others and gender is one of those divides. Even in a primitive society, women often miss out on adventure and meat for being at home, whilst men miss out on safety and fruit for being away. In today’s society we’re told time and time again about the cultural and legal privileges that men have over women and we’re only just starting to acknowledge the many advantages that women have legally and in education. However we don’t really touch on the cultural advantages women have that men have to work incredibly hard to get.
So here are five privileges our culture bestows on women that men rarely receive, but absolutely love receiving.
1: Physical touch and sex.
Women benefit from all sorts of physical interactions. I’ll focus on two extremes: basic touch and sex.
Basic touch is when a friend hugs you, or a coworker rests a hand on your shoulder to reassure you. Women are more likely to be offered this touch and, with new concerns about harassment, less likely to receive it when we don’t want it.
Sex has always been easier for women to get than for men, as humans are social animals and for society to thrive, all women must be offered a chance to reproduce. However men are becoming increasingly stigmatized for their sexual urges and natural desires on top of this, which means men have a much harder time getting sex.
However men enjoy all sorts of physical contact and are just as de-stressed by a hug as a woman is.
Women are more likely to be offered a helping hand with something difficult and less likely to be stigmatized for asking for help. This means that in every case where a woman finds herself in trouble she is more likely to be helped on her way by a friend or stranger than a man is.
This is even reflected by our social aid projects. Although by far more men are homeless than women, more women receive homelessness support. Although men suffer domestic violence and especially physical abuse as much as women, almost all DV shelters assume that the woman was the victim and most are women-only.
We are a society unwilling to help men even when they need it.
3: Common courtesy.
When you’re exiting a supermarket and someone lets you out before they enter, when a parking spot is given to you, when a door is held open for you or helps you pick up something you dropped, that is actually a form of common courtesy, a way of being gentle and polite to everyone around you.
But, again, women are on the receiving end more often than men. Try watching a doorway from a waiting room or a cafe for a few hours. Most of the people having a door held for them will be women, even if it’s also a woman holding the door. Yet sometimes even when their arms are full, men don’t get that same bit of help. But it’s beyond assistance. If someone is stood by a door, struggling with a pile of boxes and nobody opens it or held it open for them, they are practically invisible. Nobody sees them, so nobody extends that politeness to them.
But apparently most men are invisible in that regard.
4: Assumption of parental instinct.
When a woman moves to collect a child at the park, nobody questions it. When a female teacher sees a young boy after school, nobody questions it. When a mother is involved in a case of domestic violence against her child, nobody believes for a second that she was a willing and sane participant. This is the assumption of parental instinct: the assumption that a mother is a parent first and a human later. And it definitely has its downsides, as all the aforementioned scenarios have played out before and the ending has been child abuse.
But men face the opposite. The assumption they have no parental instinct. If a father takes a picture of his own child at the park he is attacked. When a male teacher sees a young girl after school she is questioned as to what he did to her. When a father is involved in a case of domestic violence against his child he is assumed to be the instigator. Whilst nobody should carry the assumption of parental instinct the way mothers do, nobody should be assumed to entirely lack parental instinct the way fathers are. The choice between a good father and a drug addicted mother should be obvious and his relationship status shouldn’t be the pivot point for the entire custody case.
In these cases, ultimately the children are the ones who suffer.
5: A break or a free pass.
Women get this and we sometimes don’t even realize it. It ranges from women (in general) receiving shorter sentences for the exact same crimes as men (in general), to girls being more likely to get a hall pass or extra mock time in school, to women being able to smile their way out of a parking ticket. In short, because women look more childlike and frail than men and because women are attractive to men, men and women alike are more likely to give a woman a free pass if she acts out, commits a crime or lies.
Men don’t get this pass unless they are under serious duress or look particularly infantile and sweet. Even when they are literally children, boys are more likely to be tried as adults in serious criminal cases than girls. And men of certain socioeconomic, cultural or racial backgrounds in certain countries may be treated more harshly than the law requires. The assumption seems to be that men “can take it”. A man “can take” being forced to the ground and having a rib broken during arrest. A boy “can take” waiting for half an hour for the toilet. A man “can take” paying his parking ticket. A boy “can take” being tried as an adult for arson. Girls are sweet and innocent, women are childlike and nice, but males need to own their actions and then some.
But men aren’t machines. Yes, men are more designed for hardship than women. This much is evidenced by the hundreds of thousands of years men have spent hunting and warring as women stayed home and faced relatively little danger. But what is natural isn’t necessarily fair and in a world where everyone abides by the law as best they can and everyone pays for their actions, it is genuine injustice to make men pay more unnecessarily.
And those are five things that come very easily to women that men would love to have. Use this information as you will. Maybe you will give your husband or brother some more hugs, or your son a free pass when your daughter would get one in the same situation. Maybe you’ll think more about parenting and the assumption of parenthood before siding with mothers against fathers. Maybe you’ll even consider men’s human rights a cause you are willing to support and actively fight for them. Whatever you do to give men a little taste of female privileges, however small, remember this: it doesn’t hurt women, it doesn’t hurt society and it makes the world a better and fairer place.
TTFN and Happy Hunting!