Male Privilege

Male Privilege refers to the tendency of men to allow and expect women to take on an unequal division of labor, responsibility, and self-denial. It can be thought of as having both a relational and a societal element

Relational Male Privilege: Men are less affected by the cry of babies, the demands of children, the needs of sick people, or an unkempt house and women will often end of taking care of these things on their own because the men in the household make no immediate move to help. Even if each individual piece of work by the woman seems voluntary, the overall picture is not. For example in a household where both partners work full-time, the woman will be expected to cook and clean when she gets home. Or for another example, a woman will be expected to do all the childcare, and housework, even if it amounts to far more than the man’s job.

Societal Male Privilege: Men tend not to clearly state or negotiate dependancy needs. Instead it is common for men to want to build them into roles. For example, women might be expected to spend non-job time at home, while men are expected to come and go. Or women are expected to have sex whenever the man wants it. This protects men from worries of abandonment or inadequacy. Unchecked, however, this tendency becomes a duty and a demand, which is backed up by social attitudes and rules. Some cultures allow or help men to punish partners who ‘don’t know there place.”

It is controversial how much societal male privilege still exists in the United States. It seems for sure however, that relational male privilege is alive and well—as well it might always be present potentially in patri-lineal societies. Much of the ‘nagging’ that primary aggressors list as justification for the abuse is really an attempt by the survivor to address inequity.