A while ago one of my classmates shared it on Facebook and the expectation was clear: As a fellow future counselor I was supposed to like it.
And as it frequently happens to me these days, I didn’t.
Now, I’m not saying that The Male Privilege Checklist doesn’t make any good points, because it totally does. But it also makes some that are questionable at least. And the main issue I have with it is that in its quest to convince the public about how oppressed women in America still are, it chooses to ignore many areas in which women are in fact the privileged ones. Because a very few things in this world are black or white; mostly we are looking at fifty or so shades of gray…
If you are wondering what the hell I’m talking about, I have one specific female privilege in mind, which is one of the rare examples valid not only in the United States, but also in Czech Republic. It’s one that I feel VERY strongly about, having been once a victim of it myself (so the answer is yes, I AM biased).
But see for yourself: In the case of parents getting a divorce, it’s still extremely difficult for the father to get full custody of his children, even in a case when he is clearly a better parent than his soon-to-be ex-spouse.
When I came to the United States, I expected things to be different, because I soon noticed how much more were American fathers involved in care of their children. You have to understand - when I was growing up, it was virtually unheard of for a dad to change a diaper! I remember how shocked I was back in elementary school when one of my teachers told us about her neighbor, who despite of being male went on a paternity leave and not only cared for the baby, but even cooked dinner every night. My classmates and I were staring at each other in amazement because none of us has ever heard about such a thing before. And I also remember, God help me, telling my friends during the recess that “I would never want a husband like that because men who do these things cannot be normal.”
Yeah, I know :(
Anyway, the fact that women were the primary caregivers was supposed to be the reason why they were automatically granted full custody after the divorce. Naturally, when I saw men in the U.S. changing, feeding, and playing with their babies, I assumed that fathers had more rights here.
I will never forget babysitting for a divorced dad who spent several years (and all his savings) fighting in court for a full custody. While he was a hard-working, tax-paying citizen with a clean record, whose only “crime” was sleeping with a wrong person in the wrong time (he married her when she became pregnant because he wanted to do right by her); his ex was both alcohol and cocaine addict with multiple DUI’s, unable to hold a job for more than several months, and a mother of two other children (each with a different partner) whom she was unable to support. Yet even the dad’s own lawyer was skeptical and warned his client that in the state of Illinois “they would have to find her half-comatose with the needle still in her arm to MAYBE convince the judge that she is an unfit mother.” The only reason why the dad eventually won the case was that his ex was so fucked up that she failed to appear in the court so many times that eventually the judge lost his patience. And that makes the dad one of the few lucky ones.
So I’m asking – where is male privilege when you need one!?
Same situation, different country: My dad just recently told me on the phone about his friend who is going through the same thing. He had many people from his community testifying in court that his ex was indeed an unfit mother (when she was still living in his house, he would often find her so drunk that she didn’t wake up when the baby was screaming right next to her with hunger and he had to undress her and put the baby to her breast – and that’s just one example out of many). The result? Children belong to their mother, the judge said firmly. (And I’m sure that the fact that the judge was herself a divorced forty-something female had absolutely NOTHING to do with her decision.)
Strangely enough, the Male Privilege Checklist doesn’t bother to mention this HUGE advantage that women have over men in this matter. If you are a father who happens to love his children very much and if your bitchy ex is the one who won full custody, I can guarantee you that SHE is the one who has you by your balls, checklist or not.
And speaking of which, neither have I recently seen feminists addressing issues like using children as pawns to get more money from the ex-husband, or – and I consider this especially disgusting – false accusations of sexual molestation, which are apparently becoming increasingly popular in our society. If you are interested in this topic, check out for example http://www.innocentdads.org/ for some heartbreaking stories.
So – the point of my column is not to convince everyone that oppression of women doesn’t exist in our society; it does. But I believe that it’s important to be aware that oppression of men exists as well. Our society is very complex and with so many societal “rules” changing every day it’s becoming more and more difficult to keep up and mainly, to see the big picture. There are multiple factors that determine who has the power and I think that there is enough evidence out there to indicate that it’s NOT necessarily always the person who has a penis.