Tuesday, December 1, 2009

"Unpacking the Male Privilege Jockstrap": the 100 Male Privileges Checklist (2009)

[image is from here

Perhaps this is a man mentally unpacking his male privilege jockstrap. 
It looks like it never occurred to him to do it before now, eh? 

This is a list that was originally part of an earlier post from October 2, 2008, titled "Unpacking the Male Privilege Jockstrap" at which time I expanded a list published by Barry Deutsch. The source for his list (items #1 - 42) is Expository Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 2. Copyright © 2001 - 2002 Barry Deutsch. Permission is granted by him to reproduce this list in any way, for any purpose, so long as the acknowledgment of Peggy McIntosh's work for inspiring this list is not removed*.)
*In 1990, Wellesley College professor Peggy McIntosh wrote an essay called "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack". McIntosh observes that whites in the U.S. are "taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group." To illustrate these invisible systems, McIntosh wrote a list of 26 invisible privileges whites benefit from.

As McIntosh points out, men also tend to be unaware of their own privileges as men. In the spirit of McIntosh's essay, I thought I'd compile a list similar to McIntosh's, focusing on the invisible privileges benefiting men.
Since I first compiled it, the list has been posted several times on Internet discussion groups. Very helpfully, many people have suggested additions to the checklist. More commonly, of course, critics (usually, but not always, male) have pointed out men have disadvantages too - being drafted into the army, being expected to suppress emotions, and so on. These are indeed bad things - but I never claimed that life for men is all ice cream sundaes. Pointing out that men are privileged in no way denies that sometimes bad things happen to men. -- Barry Deutsch
*          *          *

Unpacking the Male Privilege Jockstrap: 
the 100 Male Privileges Checklist

An unabashed imitation of an article, White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, by Peggy McIntosh which inspired Barry Deutsch and company to write items 1 - 42. I have since added commentary in brackets. I then wrote #43 - 100. -- Julian Real. Copyright © 2008, 2009. All rights reserved. No duplication or transmission of this material is permitted without crediting the author, reproducing it as written here in whole, unaltered, and linking back to this web page.

1. My odds of being hired for a job, when competing against female applicants, are probably skewed in my favour. The more prestigious the job, the larger the odds are skewed. [However, men who appear to come from poverty or the working class are much more likely to be turned away from a prestigious job than a middle class or wealthier-appearing man.]

2. I can be confident that my co-workers won't think I got my job because of my sex - even though that might be true. [This is far more true for white men than for many men of color.]

3. If I am never promoted, it's not because of my sex. [But may well be due to my race or ethnicity, if I'm not white.]

4. If I fail in my job or career, I can feel sure this won't be seen as a black mark against my entire sex's capabilities. ["Black mark" is part of racist speech. Black Monday, black mark, black sheep of the family: all generate negative associations with blackness and Blackness. See Dreaming The Dark, by Starhawk, for more on this.]

5. The odds of my encountering sexual harassment on the job are so low as to be negligible. [This is much more likely to be the case for men perceived to be heterosexual.]

6. If I do the same task as a woman, and if the measurement is at all subjective, chances are people will think I did a better job.

7. If I'm a teen or adult, and if I can stay out of prison, my odds of being raped are so low as to be negligible. [This is really only true of non-incarcated heterosexual men, not non-incarcerated gay men. Date and spousal rape among gay men is not negligable. And anti-gay rape, as a form of queer-bashing by heterosexual men, happens more than negligably. The salient point about rape is that when it happens to women by men it is part of a larger system of gender-based (male supremacist) terrorism and subordination, particularly when it occurs within one ethnic group. It is part of gynocide. And it is also a vicious part of a larger white Western male supremacist practice of gynocidal/genocidal atrocity against women of color globally, including within the U.S. Put simply, heterosexual men are not likely to experience rape and when they do it's anecdotal, not systematised and institutioalised as natural and normal.]

8. I am not taught to fear walking alone after dark in average public spaces. [White supremacist men do teach their children to fear people of color, day and night. And men of color are at risk of violence when in all-white areas at night; often the perpetrators are police officers, whose job it is to maintain the white male supremacist status quo.]

9. If I choose not to have children, my masculinity will not be called into question. [This is primarily true of heterosexual men: childless men who are misperceived as gay are having their masculinity called into question on many fronts, including when we do not have children.]

10. If I have children but do not provide primary care for them, my masculinity will not be called into question.

11. If I have children and provide primary care for them, I'll be praised for extraordinary parenting if I'm even marginally competent.

12. If I have children and pursue a career, no one will think I'm selfish for not staying at home.

13. If I seek political office, my relationship with my children, or who I hire to take care of them, will probably not be scrutinized by the press.

14. Chances are my elected representatives are mostly people of my own sex. The more prestigious and powerful the elected position, the more likely this is to be true. [Truer of Christian, white, heterosexually-identified men than any other men, in the West.]

15. I can be somewhat sure that if I ask to see "the person in charge," I will face a person of my own sex. The higher-up in the organization the person is, the surer I can be. [It is also true that the higher up in business organizations one goes, the more likely any man is to encounter a white man as boss.]

16. As a child, chances are I was encouraged to be more active and outgoing than my sisters.

17. As a child, I could choose from an almost infinite variety of children's media featuring positive, active, non-stereotyped heroes of my own sex. I never had to look for it; male heroes were the default. [This exclusively applies to white heterosexual men.]

18. As a child, chances are I got more teacher attention than girls who raised their hands just as often.

19. If my day, week or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether or not it has sexist overtones. [This is to say, what I experience socially is never part of a system of subordination against me--and my sex-class--by another gendered group.]

20. I can turn on the television or glance at the front page of the newspaper and see people of my own sex widely represented, every day, without exception. [This holds true primarily if I'm a white, middle class, heterosexual man. Poor men (and women) have little to no media representation.]

21. If I'm careless with my financial affairs it won't be attributed to my sex. [I think this applies primarily to wealthier men, disproportionately white.]

22. If I'm careless with my driving it won't be attributed to my sex.

23. I can speak in public to a large group without putting my sex on trial.

24. If I have sex with a lot of people, it won't make me an object of contempt or derision. [This is much more true of heterosexual men than of gay men.]

25. There are value-neutral clothing choices available to me; it is possible for me to choose clothing that doesn't send any particular message to the world. [I question this: I think so-called "male attire" does send plenty of messages. More later.]

26. My wardrobe and grooming are relatively cheap and consume little time. [This warrants unpacking. More later.]

27. If I buy a new car, chances are I'll be offered a better price than a woman buying the same car. [The same is true of buying a used car.]

28. If I'm not conventionally attractive, the disadvantages are relatively small and easy to ignore. [My sex is not overtly coerced by media and other social forces to be "beautiful" as defined by racist, capitalist, misogynist media. And butch women of any sexual orientation have virtually no presence, positive depiction, or meaningful representation in mass media. Butch men are a staple of mainstream media.]

29. I can be loud with no fear of being called a shrew. I can be aggressive with no fear of being called a bitch. [More on this later.]

30. I can ask for legal protection from violence that happens mostly to men without being seen as a selfish special interest, since that kind of violence is called "crime" and is a general social concern. (Violence that happens mostly to women is usually called "domestic violence" or "acquaintance rape," and is seen as a special interest issue.) [This is not especially true for poor men, however.]

31. I can be confident that the ordinary language of day-to-day existence will always include my sex. "All men are created equal…," mailman, chairman, freshman, he. [And I will not be asked to "get used to it" or made to translate when reading literature or other reading materials which use sexist pronouns and professional terms.]

32. My ability to make important decisions and my capability in general will never be questioned depending on what time of the month it is. [And I am not considered to be "dirty" or "gross" during certain portions of the month or year, because of physiological processes that happen to many among my sex.]

33. I will never be expected to change my name upon marriage or questioned if I don't change my name.

34. The decision to hire me will never be based on assumptions about whether or not I might choose to have a family sometime soon.

35. Every major religion in the world is led primarily by people of my own sex. Even God, in most major religions, is usually pictured as being male. [And, just as ridiculously and oppressively, also white, and also straight.]

36. Most major religions argue that [if heterosexually involved in a primary relationship] I should be the head of my household, while my wife and children should be subservient to me. [And this is grossly heterosexist as well as misogynist and misopedic.]

37. If I have a wife or girlfriend, chances are we'll divide up household chores so that she does most of the labour, and in particular the most repetitive and unrewarding tasks.

38. If I have children with a wife or girlfriend, chances are she'll do most of the childrearing, and in particular the most dirty, repetitive and unrewarding parts of childrearing.

39. If I have children with a wife or girlfriend, and it turns out that one of us needs to make career sacrifices to raise the kids, chances are we'll both assume the career sacrificed should be hers.

40. Magazines, billboards, television, movies, pornography, and virtually all of media are filled with images of scantily clad women intended to appeal to me [, a heterosexual man,] sexually. Such images of [heterosexual] men exist, but are much rarer.

41. I am not expected to spend my entire life 20-40 pounds underweight. [And a weight gain or loss of a few pounds doesn't become fodder for social discussion.]

42. If I am heterosexual, it's incredibly unlikely that I'll ever be beaten up by a spouse or lover.

43. I have the privilege of being unaware of my male privilege.

On we go with the "Unpacking The Male Privilege Jockstrap" list, begun on October 2, 2008.

44. I can use curse words publicly and be less negatively judged, due to my sex, if I appear to be a man.

45. In addition to being aggressive, I can be irritable, moody, temperamental, sullen, non-responsive, reactive, angry, outraged, unpleasant, not deferential, unkind, insensitive, inconsiderate, rude, combative, dominating, overbearing, critical, assertive, and many more ways of being human, without being called misogynist terms, including "the b word" and "the c word".

46. If perceived as male, I can, without social critique, only wear what is termed "male-appropriate" attire.

47. I do not have to ever wear high heeled shoes, not counting "cowboy boots".

48. I can attend many fancy or formal gatherings in the same outfit, without anyone either noticing, or commenting about it critically.

49. If I attend special events, I don't need to be concerned about whether I should do something different with my hair.

50. I will be not be likely to be called misogynist terms if I my hair is unkempt.

51. I will not be judged solely due to my sex for having body odor. [I may, however, be solely judged by my race or class, if a man or woman.]

52. I can live in a capitalist society in which no advertising exists to sell me products to make my crotch smell "meadow fresh".

53. Ads geared toward my crotch have nothing whatsoever to do with hygiene, as if men's crotches don't smell gross. And the ads that are in mass media, aimed at my crotch, basically want to be sure I can piss well and can penetrate women at any time with my penis. Or feel as much sensation as I can while doing so while wearing a condom. So, according to media, women's crotches = something in need of cleaning AND penetrating. Men's crotches are presumed to be clean and are only supposed to be used for pissing and for penetrating women's crotches.

54. Especially if white and not poor, I am considered human without qualification.

55. Human rights laws are written with me in mind, more than my female counterpart.

56. Unless I have post-traumatic stress disorder from sexual assault, I am not likely to be frightened and startled if a man suddenly comes up next to me on the street or road.

57. As a pedestrian, I do not have the unrelenting, dehumanising experience of heterosexual men regularly offering to let me to walk on by so they can check out my ass.

58. David Letterman and Jay Leno, among other night-time talk show hosts, are not likely to discuss and point out my body parts and gender as a major topic of conversation.

59. If an athlete, a scholar, a sports car racer, a mechanic, a plumber, a farmer, or an activist (among many professions and endeavors seen as "primarily for men", I am not likely to be told "but he's also very masculine" elsewhere in his life.

60. I do not have a letter or gender identifier in the TV Guide before my sport, such as women do: the WMBA, Women's Tennis, Women's Golf.

61. Pursuing a life in team sports is something that is seen as a reasonable and healthy human pursuit, if I'm a boy or man.

62. I do not generally have my ass grabbed by strange men.

63. Especially if not a teenager, I do not usually have cars pull over, assuming I'm a prostitute, whether or not I am.

64. I can strip in a club and have it be seen as fun, not sleazy.

65. I can pretend my sex does more work each day than women do, and honestly believe it.

66. I can lingeringly embrace a woman in public while kissing her without fear of being beaten up or killed.

67. I can live with a woman as a life partner, or with several women consecutively in a series of flings, without fearing being beaten up or killed precisely for that reason.

68. It is not assumed that I exist for the purpose of bringing human life into this world.

69. It is not assumed I am "for" men.

70. The penetration of various orifices of my body by a penis will likely be socially understood as criminal or immoral acts that harm my dignity and social status, regardless of what they mean to me or how I experience them.

71. If heterosexual, I can go through life without my body being penetrated by a penis, and without ejaculate being dispensed on my face or other areas of my body.

72. Especially if heterosexual, the terms "ho", "whore", and "slut" (in various languages) are not associated with my gender.

73. My gender is equated with being human, especially if I'm white.

74. If white, what my sex produces creatively in writing or visual media will have a much better chance of being shown in art galleries, published, or held in museums and acclaimed in textbooks as "great" work.

75. What I write will not be dissected and analysed in the mass media based on my sex by those of my sex.

76. When I speak, it is assumed I speak with some authority, no matter what I know or don't know.

77. When I enter a room where the public circulates, such as a bar, club, college classroom, or restaurant, I do not generally have men nudge their male friends and indicate verbally or non-verbally that "you should check that person out", in an objectifying and degrading way, while continuing to stare at me with no regard or understanding of how that could make me feel.

78. I am not usually approached on the street by strangers who want my phone number, for the ulterior purposes of wanting to f*ck me.

79. My outer clothes are not fashioned so that the rape of my lower body is easily accomplished.

80. My life partner does not expect me or usually want me to have a variety of kinds of underwear, for special occasions.

81. I don't have to shave my armpits or legs ever, for any social occasion.

82. I don't have to shave my face to be seen as "more appropriately like those of my sex".

83. I don't have to wear make-up to "make myself look better", or to feel better about my appearance.

84. I don't ever have to own or use tweezers.

85. I can wear the same exact clothes several days consecutively without many people noticing or caring.

86. I don't have to fear white men coming onto my people's Native land to rape me.

87. If white, I can rape many women, including women I have owned as slaves, and go down in history as a great and honorable person. (I can also be the creator of female sexual slavery, the rape and trafficking of Indigenous girls and women from the "New World" to Europe and have my name be a national holiday: Columbus Day.)

88. If I am a white and Christian man, I can see myself reflected in every U.S. president and vice president to date, as of October, 2008.

89. I can, without question or concern, use human beings as prostitutes, whether or not they are prostitutes, and believe it's my right to do so and that no one is harmed by me doing so.

90. As a U.S. white man, I can travel to Third World countries and sexually assault children and women with relative ease and impunity, assuming I have the money for the trip.

91. Most especially if white, I can do almost any crime at all and get away with it most of the time.

92. People assume my violence and aggression is natural to my sex.

93. Generally speaking, almost the entire population of my sex-class assumes that violating women and girls visually is either natural, desirable, acceptable, or should be in no way illegal.

94. Books are written which argue that my impulses to rape and cheat on my spouse are genetic or natural, not social and cultural.

95. Among my male friends, I can speak with relative ease about the fact that I am horny without anyone attaching a negative term for what that is.

96. When around men who call me friend, I can joke about criminally sexually assaulting "the other sex", or can brag after having done so, usually without anyone calling me out for being a hater of that "other" gender.

97. I can be an activist for rights for my gender without being seen as a destroyer of the family.

98. If I speak out regularly on behalf of my gender, about how the other sex systematically mistreats us, that is seen as valid, not a form of delusion or "hysteria".

99. I can hate the other sex my whole life and not have that be challenged by members of my own sex.

100. I do not have to fight for and with the people of my gender, locally, regionally, nationally, and worldwide, for the opportunity to be seen as human beings of intelligence, humor, and accomplishment rather than as sex-things for men to exploit.


  1. Part 1 of 2, since the blogger helpdesk seems to be saying longer comments won't work.

    > 53. I am not inundated with ads
    > that bring the public's attention
    > to my crotch or reproductive organs.

    There are Viagra and Cialis ads, but that’s minor compared to the other 99 items on this list.

    Years ago, I decided to find out more about what feminism meant. I took a few classes and was floored by what I learned, socially and personally. They had a powerful impact on my own growth and development.

    I bumped into the “1st International Men's Conference,” which billed itself as bringing together the different 'tribes' of the men's movement: Men's Rights, Mythopoetic, 12-Step, 'pro-sex', male supremacists (really), homosexuals, and, last and least, pro-feminist men. 'Least' because 'the tribe' of pro-feminist men was one person. I went to a workshop by that one person: Michael Kimmel. He had some "Tame Questions for Wild Men" such as "Isn't the adoption of Native American traditions to give expression to 'deep masculinity' akin to putting on 'red-face'?" That got me to the conference put on by the National Organization for Men Against Sexism, for which Michael is a spokesperson. I met Jim Hanneken, Victor Lewis, and Bob Brannon, all strong pro-feminist men. I also met Rose Garrity, Phyllis Frank, and other strong feminist women who were on the council of NOMAS. I started to learn what it means to be accountable: as a man to feminists, as a heterosexual to gay men and lesbians, as a white person to people of color. The NOMAS analysis was that oppressions are not primarily actions of individuals toward individuals but systemic actions with societal reinforcement and legal codification. I joined and have been part of NOMAS for 15 years.

  2. Part 2 of 2, since the blogger helpdesk seems to be saying longer comments won't work.

    "We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes," so when I attempt to answer the question how am I implementing the other 99 items, I do not say I have done enough. I adjusted my language to more directly name the oppression: not 'a prostitute,' but 'a prostituted woman.' Not 'the oppression' but 'how men oppress women.' Not 'the dominant group' and 'the minority group' but 'the dominating group' and 'the marginalized group.' I don't claim to be an “ally;" that title that can only be given. I am learning again and again how white-skin, heterosexual, Christian, class, and all the other privileges are hidden from me, so that I can believe the system is fair. Yet consciousness raising and modifying my language aren‘t enough; patriarchy must be ended.

    To that end, I've organized a pro-feminist conference. I've written letters, brought speakers, marched at rallies, attended pride events. I contribute money, time, and energy. When I get praised for doing this, I try to remind that I'll be praised for extraordinary anti-sexist work if I'm even marginally competent, and that more competent women doing better work will not be praised, but will be derided as 'man-haters' and worse.

    I take it as a bare minimum for my humanity to strive to be open to hearing from anyone how my behavior makes it harder for them to live on this planet. When a woman catches me playing the sexist game and calls me on it, I say 'Of course! I was raised here in the US; how could I have been otherwise? Now, let me figure out how to stop behaving in that sexist way.’ I don't fear that label; I can forgive myself for having learned well what I was taught, and I can forgive those who taught me as they were taught. I can forgive, but I strive not to perpetuate. The people to whom I now apprentice myself name the oppression, but they don’t attack individuals for behaving in ways that the whole society reinforces. They don’t hate the player; they hate the game. I ask myself "Do I want to continue playing that game? If not, what game do I want to play, and what are the rules of that game?

    I like myself for struggling to stop playing those games, and I'd be delighted, Julian, to join you in discovering how to end those oppressive games (personally and societally), and play a new one, together.

  3. Hi acorben,

    Thanks so much for filling me in and also for pointing out the problem with #53! I changed it so it is now more in line with what ads say. So I appreciate you bringing my attention to that.

    I am familiar, in a variety of ways, with NOMAS. A small group of people, once upon a time, worked to get their name to change from The National Organisation for Changing Men to The National Organisation for Men Against Sexism. And it was quite a struggle.

    I'm glad Michael Kimmel is calling out the outrageous level of white supremacist appropriation of Indigenous cultures. It's always been so utterly disgusting, exploitive, and profoundly religiously insensitive to me. But it's more than akin to whites putting on red-face. It's blatantly flaunting our genocidal ways, perpetuating and celebrating them in the process. The actions aren't just exploitive and insensitive, they are part of the on-going genocide.

    I don't quite understand the purpose of that international meeting. As if those sorts of men need to get organised and networked? Yikes. That's like finding out there are tons of White groups getting together internationally, like White Rights, White Colonisers, White Nationalists, Anti-Indigenous cultural appropriation groups, White eurocentric literature clubs, and oh, yes, one small group of whites who understand that white racism against people of color is a problem that needs addressing. I find the news that that occurred as planned very dangerous indeed. I hope the first was the last.

    What was your experience of it, though? (I wasn't there. Gratefully.)

    I wish more men were open to scrutinising and challenging our privileges and sexist language, and other ways we abuse our power, status, position, and entitlements. And I'm happy to hear of the work you've been doing!

    Sounds like NOMAS has nurtured you. I'm glad.

    Perhaps one day we will meet. But I don't join men's groups, so it won't likely be at a NOMAS meeting. I'm supportive of their being such an organisation, to be sure. But I wouldn't be part of any organisation that would have me as a member. ; )

  4. You certainly don't need to join to come to a NOMAS conference. August 2010, in Anaheim, in conjunction with the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. I hope you'll consider it.

    My experience of the First International Men's Conference was pretty similar to that of a much better writer: You can see that piece here: www.donshewey.com/sex_articles/wild_in_the_suites.html

    It was terrible. It went on two more years, each time with half the attendance. I couldn't stomach any more than that. That's when I went to NOMAS directly and met the Radical Faeries, and all the rest.

    I have had a marvelously nurtured time, and have learned from some really fabulous people. They sent me to The People's Institute for Survival and Beyond to get anti-racist training... and so on and so forth. It's been good for me, and I know that I'm still quite unconscious of the ways in which I, with no malicious intention, make it harder for 'other' people to live (whatever the category of other means in a particular context). My job now is to try and get more of people like me (since I'm pretty squarely in the dominating group) to stop perpetuating the oppression and try to live in a way that does not marginalize any group, because not only is it right, not only is it the least I should do for another human being, it's also better for me.

    I'm delighted to find your blog, even if you never come to a NOMAS event.

  5. Hi acorben,

    Thanks for that assessment, the link, and for sharing more of your own commitments.

    I have great affection for the Radical Faeries and great respect for the People's Institute for Survival and Beyond. I went to a workshop given by The People's Institute in the '80s.

    And I feel no siblinghood with groups that prioritise and privilege Western white class-privileged heterosexual men's feelings over atrocities against women of all colors.

    For me, as noted, any "Men's Movement" is right up there with White Nationalism in its political commitment to radical justice for the oppressed.

    I am glad you are finding places that support you challenging your own and other white men's misogyny, heterosexism, Western cultural and spiritual imperialist practices, racism, and ecocidal ways of being. For me, being a responsible white man means using everything one has in the way of voice and resources to call out the injustices, inhumane acts, and larger atrocities that white men refuse to name and own as ours--ours in the sense that we control and operate them, and ours in the sense that we must end them and not place that burden on anyone else.

    I wish every white class-privileged man who isn't precluded from doing so by disability, woke up and while taking in the first waking breaths of the day, read and reread Andrea Dworkin's speech to 500 anti-sexist men and set forth to do whatever is in his power to do to end rapism and racism.

  6. I was wondering were did you get all the facts from because when I clicked on source it just brought up the article with no research. I would love to see the research papers.

  7. Thank you Julian Real for making men, especially hetero white men accountable for their misdeeds and evil. I appreciated your website.

    La Reyna

  8. We need to talk about Chad Wheeler and his abuse of his former Black girlfriend. The media didn't cover it except for Black media and ESPN(Just a tad, of course)


    Also, the concern trolling from white male racists such as Colin Flaherty and their obsession with rape.


    La Reyna

  9. Thanks a million, Julian Real😊

    La Reyna