This year Donald Trump showed the kind of leniency a combination of white and male privilege provides, and until we address it head-on, this inequality will remain.
Before going any further, let’s address privilege for those who are often offended by the phrase, usually because they have no idea what it means. Allan G. Johnson, who has his PhD in Sociology defined privilege as “any advantage that is unearned, exclusive, and socially conferred. For example, white people are generally assumed to be law-abiding until they show some sign that they are not, while people of color are routinely assumed to be criminals or potential criminals until they show they’re not.” He used an example of white privilege that would apply to American culture, but notice how he didn’t use a financial example. Contrary to the popular belief of those who don’t think white privilege exists because they’re not rich, money is but a piece of the puzzle. It’s about where a social system places you according to a set of criteria. There are other forms of privilege afforded to those of us who are male, heterosexual, Christian, and more. This blog post will focus on the combination of white privilege and male privilege and its devastating effects.
Let’s be clear. Unless a woman asks for it, grabbing her by her vagina, or even touching it, is sexual assault. Bragging about it means you are bragging about sexual assault. Joking about it means you are joking about sexual assault. Brock Turner committed sexual assault. Donald Trump’s words in that 2005 tape described sexual assault. For those of us wondering why so many women are upset by this, we have to accept what to you must be an epiphany. A lot of women have been sexually assaulted, and even raped. It’s not a fun experience for someone to force a sexual act on you. It’s actually quite traumatic, and the victims don’t find it funny, don’t think it’s anything to brag about, and don’t want someone who does running our country.
That should be common sense, but you would be surprised because male privilege allows a large number of men to never think about sexual assault or rape the way women do on a daily basis. Are there exceptions? Absolutely when you deal with boys who were molested, men who are forced to have sex with a woman, or men or who sexually assaulted by other men. However, the evidence of privilege is shown in the fear many women have walking down the street when men catcall at them. To the catcaller, these are compliments. If a woman were to catcall him, he wouldn’t mind or he might be offended but he wouldn’t fear for his safety. To the woman being catcalled, they are threats that she might not make it home tonight without getting grabbed, pinned down, and raped. If that sounds extreme, you likely are not a woman who has been catcalled on a daily basis or sexually assaulted by someone you trusted.
Male privilege allows us to look at Turner’s case and say his victim shouldn’t have been drunk instead of saying he shouldn’t have assaulted her no matter how much she had to drink. It allows us to listen to Trump’s words and say they’re just “locker room talk” without wondering why that kind of talk is present in our locker rooms. These are perspectives you’re allowed to have when you’re privileged enough to not have to live your life on the other end, and in order to empathize you need to make an effort to educate yourself on why these views are problematic. Until we do that, our privilege will always dictate our thinking.
Nikki Nigl (which rhymes with eagle as she said), 42, from Chicago, is a women’s empowerment coach and adult education professor at Northeastern Illinois University. She expressed frustration at how male privilege allows men to see women as subhuman.
“We just need to teach men not to fucking rape,” Nigl said. “Just don’t rape. I think the class should be about 30 seconds long, and you just don’t rape. You get a syllabus that says ‘Don’t rape.'”
The only reason a man would need to learn this is because he believes he has the right to a woman’s body, and he believes that because he views women as objects for his sexual consumption. They are not to be respected as equal human beings allowed freedom and autonomy over their bodies. They must submit to a man’s will at any time, and if she doesn’t, she should be consumed whether she likes it or not. According to Trump’s 2005 leak, her pussy should be grabbed whether or not she offers it of her own free will. If you follow his campaign, women’s bodies also shouldn’t be respected but judged if they don’t have the desired appearance that makes them suitable for consumption. This is a mentality that likens a woman to property that you can buy or even steal, so that you can cultivate it for your own needs.
White privilege is quite similar, especially when it comes to its treatment of black people in America. James Baldwin, once made a statement dissecting the logical absurdity of white privilege.
“White men lynched negroes knowing them to be their sons,” Baldwin said. “White women watched men being lynched knowing them to be their lovers… How are white Americans so sure they are white?”
There is no scientific basis for whiteness, no inherent superiority in any capacity, and yet whiteness affords white Americans beliefs and privileges so concrete that you would think there was. This privilege allows Turner to serve three months in prison for sexual assault after his father begged for leniency arguing that his life and all of his hard work would be ruined because of “20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.” Such an argument ignores the obvious horror of a victim being assaulted for 20 straight minutes in any capacity, be it getting punched in the face or sexually assaulted. Judge Aaron Persky sentenced him to six months in county jail because,“ A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him… I think he will not be a danger to others.”
Meanwhile, Brian Banks spent five years in prison for a rape he didn’t commit. He was tried as an adult at 16-years-old, and convicted to six years in prison. He only came home after his accuser recanted her story. Both Turner and Banks had bright futures. Neither of them had criminal records. Prison would’ve impacted both of them. One was assumed criminal without evidence. The other assumed inherently nonthreatening despite evidence that he committed a heinous act. Had Banks and Turner switched places, it is likely Turner would’ve never served a day in prison while Banks would’ve received the maximum sentence. Either way, Turner’s victim must live with the fact that she was violated for the rest of her life. When you combine white male privilege in these situations, only the white male walks away relatively unharmed.
Trump has benefited from white male privilege during his entire presidential campaign. With no government experience, a history of racial discrimination, and a platform riddled with racist comments toward Mexican undocumented immigrants, proposals to ban Muslims or monitor those who are already in America(which really means brown-skinned people. There’s no logical way to look at someone and know their faith), and supporting New York’s old stop and frisk, a practice found to violate the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments by racially profiling Black and Latino Americans. He has somehow managed to become the Republican nominee while espousing everything that is wrong with America.