As a straight white American male, I enjoy a fair amount of privilege. I recognize it and, in the interest of being as “politically incorrect” as possible, I’m not going to apologize for it.
But what I will do, is acknowledge that such privilege exists and, more importantly, make an effort not to exploit my privilege at the expense of others who do not enjoy the same privileges. I will call out injustice and work to provide some degree of accommodation. A rising tide lifts all ships and thus, if I put my privilege to good use, I will benefit if for no other reason than the improvements to society as a whole.
Or, to paraphrase Harry Chapin, I’m a selfish, greedy bastard. I want the fact that I existed to mean something. That’s my privilege talking. And looking at things in the long term.
Of course, other people with the same privileges might prefer to protect them, guard them tightly, and prevent even the slightest encroaches upon the privilege. It’s a short term thinking, and it encourages racism, xenophobia, and/or misogyny.
I do derive a certain perverse amusement in reading the words of a group of internet misogynists who call themselves MRA’s. MRA is an acronym for “Men’s Rights Advocates“. Because men, of course, are so reviled and despised by society, with unreasonable expectations of beauty and intelligence, nothing more than eye candy for women, getting paid less for the same work…… I could go on, but I figure that at some point your eyes would roll so far, you’d have to chase them down the street. I don’t really recommend following the link I just provided.
One position many, if not most, MRA’s take, is that somehow women are obligated to have sex with men, at least under some conditions. It’s a notion that feeds into what’s becoming known as rape culture. And if the girls don’t put out, then you should force or intimidate them.
I’ve written before about my opinions on rape (more than once, actually) so I don’t think it’s overly necessary to reiterate them. There’s a question on the dating site OKCupid that asks if there’s ever a time when someone is obligated to have sex with someone else. Of course I said no to that question although I did, tongue-in-cheek, acknowledge that there are times when it’d be nice.
Which brings me to one of the big news items that’s currently going on. It started a couple of weeks ago, when Roger Ailes, the CEO of Fox News, was sued by former anchor Gretchen Carlson for sexual harassment. In the following days, multiple other women came forward with similar allegations, bolstered most recently by Fox News superstar Megyn Kelly. As I write these words, he’s still in charge but is in the process of negotiating his graceful exit.
If the allegations are true, then Ailes put a lot of women in an extremely uncomfortable position. He basically gave them a choice between choosing to perform a sex act on him (and later hating themselves for it) and jeopardizing their careers, their ambitions, their very livelihoods by saying no. Were I a woman, I honestly don’t know what I would choose if those were my options.
And that’s where I give a slight chuckle of thanks for my privilege that I don’t have to worry about that kind of choice. At least, not for myself.
But it’s curious. More than two weeks have passed and I have yet to see a single MRA complaining about how unfairly Ailes is being treated. Surely the arguments they could be making are there for the taking, aren’t they? The media have found him guilty without the benefit of a trial. It’s a conspiracy to discredit him. He’s innocent until proven guilty. Why should he be made to suffer before he has the right to confront his accusers? What about his rights?
Okay. I need to stop before I make myself sick.
So let’s say it unequivocally: he’ll get his day in court and will be afforded all of the rights the accused get, in full accordance with the way they are spelled out in the constitution. But that’s irrelevant to either the newsworthiness of the accusations themselves (and the freedom of the press that enables them to be reported on) or the rumors that he’s about to be pushed out of his current role at Fox News. Assuming he loses his job, his constitutional rights will remain intact, without regard to the color of his parachute.
So where are the MRA’s who should be rushing to his defense? Sure. There are reports of an exodus of staffers who would follow him if he goes, but they’d probably leave anyway when the news channel ends up under new management. I really haven’t seen much of anything in that sphere.
Maybe they’re just exercising their privilege and going after other women….