When you look at what constitutes ‘female privilege’ in the eyes of MRAs and MRAs-in-training, you see exactly how ignorant most of them are to real discrimination and fear. In the MRA handbook, female privilege is being able to speak to men without being considered predatory; it’s being able to decide whether or not to continue with a pregnancy (as opposed to having a child forced on you so that a scheming bitch can rob you blind for the next 18 years); it’s being able to have sex with a man and then later change your mind while accusing him of rape; it’s having the right to leave a marriage because the courts will favour you in a custody dispute; it’s receiving the ‘coveted status’ of being a rape survivor on a college campus and all the advantages that come with that.
With the exception of that last one, which is so despicably offensive that it’s almost impossible to believe it was not only printed in the Washington Post but that it was written by a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, all of these examples of ‘female privilege’ seem less indicative of a rising gynarchy poised to crush whimpering men with a gigantic, comfortably shod foot than they do just basic rights that women are entitled to have even though they prevent men from being able to behave exactly as they like.
Women don’t come to life the moment men approach us, and asking that men respect our space and not assume their presence is always or even ever welcome isn’t the equivalent of Stonewall. Similarly, until science can figure out how to make Ivan Reitman’s terrifying vision of the dystopian universe presented in seminal 90s movie ‘Junior’ a reality, it is not ‘female privilege’ for a woman to have the final say over whether or not she grows a fetus inside her for nine months before birthing it and then raising it. And while we’re at it, can we all agree that it’s a curious bit of cognitive dissonance to argue about paying for children you don’t want in one breath while ranting about how the legal system won’t give them to you in the other?
The idea that the fight for gender equality has swung ‘too far’ to the other side is simply ludicrous. One woman is still killed every week in Australia by her partner or ex-partner. The WHO estimates that 30 per cent of women worldwide who have been in a sexual relationship have experienced some form of violence within that partnership. The two issues most integral to that of women’s equality - that of reproductive autonomy and financial independence - are still not considered legally sacrosanct for the overwhelming majority of women in the world today.
And we’ve got men (and some women) complaining that feminism is subjugating men?
I’ll let you in on a little secret. The Feminist Mafia is trying to erode men’s rights, and we’ve had some success over the years. Like the right for a man to legally rape his wife. Destroyed that. Or the right of men to determine who rises to political leadership. We nailed that one too. Or how about the right that said women became the physical property of their husbands, husbands who then had the right to commit these women to mental asylums (and frequently did) as a means of securing a divorce, leaving him free to marry another (often younger) woman? Yep, got rid of that.
Peggy Orenstein’s 1994 text ‘Schoolgirls’ included an anecdote which observed that, for many men and boys, equality is perceived as a loss. And it technically is, because any time a disparate system of power is equalised, one side must surrender some privileges. Referring to ‘female privilege’ (particularly in a world where, in some places, it is considered a privilege that girls even be allowed to live) as some kind of nefarious threat to the psychic wellbeing of men isn’t just offensive, it’s also dangerous. It provides a focal point of blame for the frustrations of men who feel they’ve somehow been denied all that was promised to them, and it can have terrifying and often violent ramifications for the women in their lives."
Most of the characters in my fantasy and far-future science fiction books are not white. They’re mixed; they’re rainbow. In my first big science fiction novel, The Left Hand of Darkness, the only person from Earth is a black man, and everybody else in the book is Inuit (or Tibetan) brown. In the two fantasy novels the miniseries is ‘based on,’ everybody is brown or copper-red or black, except the Kargish people in the East and their descendants in the Archipelago, who are white, with fair or dark hair. The central character Tenar, a Karg, is a white brunette. Ged, an Archipelagan, is red-brown. His friend, Vetch, is black. In the [Sci Fi Channel] miniseries, Tenar is played by Smallville’s Kristin Kreuk, the only person in the miniseries who looks at all Asian. Ged and Vetch are white.
My color scheme was conscious and deliberate from the start. I didn’t see why everybody in science fiction had to be a honky named Bob or Joe or Bill. I didn’t see why everybody in heroic fantasy had to be white (and why all the leading women had ‘violet eyes’). It didn’t even make sense. Whites are a minority on Earth now—why wouldn’t they still be either a minority, or just swallowed up in the larger colored gene pool, in the future? […]
I think it is possible that some readers never even notice what color the people in the story are. Don’t notice, don’t care. Whites of course have the privilege of not caring, of being ‘colorblind.’ Nobody else does.
I have heard, not often, but very memorably, from readers of color who told me that the Earthsea books were the only books in the genre that they felt included in—and how much this meant to them, particularly as adolescents, when they’d found nothing to read in fantasy and science fiction except the adventures of white people in white worlds. Those letters have been a tremendous reward and true joy to me.
So far no reader of color has told me I ought to butt out, or that I got the ethnicity wrong. When they do, I’ll listen. As an anthropologist’s daughter, I am intensely conscious of the risk of cultural or ethnic imperialism—a white writer speaking for nonwhite people, co-opting their voice, an act of extreme arrogance. In a totally invented fantasy world, or in a far-future science fiction setting, in the rainbow world we can imagine, this risk is mitigated. That’s the beauty of science fiction and fantasy—freedom of invention.
But with all freedom comes responsibility. Which is something these filmmakers seem not to understand."