Explaining privilege to the privileged and why not being a feminist is sexist

Emmeline Pankhurst being arrested after demonstrating outside Buckingham Palace for the right to vote. 


When I walk into the library and all the desks are taken, and people have saved some with stacks of papers or books on them, I feel angry. Some people leave for an hour when the official rule is 15 minutes. I am stuck at the trinity version of a children’s table at a party, and a pile of books is taking up a desk I could be studying at, instead of wasting my time trying to squeeze my longer than average legs under a smaller than average desk. 


When I am sitting at a desk however, I don’t really care about the piles of books. I don’t care that there are people at the childrens table and books at the grown up table, to continue the party metaphor. Personally I would not leave for longer than 15 minutes unless it was an emergency, but I am not motivated to care enough about the people that do, because I already have my desk. 

This is how it feels to be privileged. White privilege, male privilege, class privilage,sexual orientation privilege, library privilege. The last one is not a very important privilege, nobody is dying, there are not huge injustices taking place. It is easy to not care about racism when you are white, because you are already sitting at your metaphorical desk in the library. It is easy not to care about feminism when you identify as male, because it doesn’t matter that the desks at the edge are smaller and more uncomfortable. Your desk is comfortable. You do not feel the discomfort, so you do not really care. 

You don’t really know what it’s like to be on the other side until you are on the other side. It’s easy to say All Lives Matter instead of Black Lives Matter, because it makes you feel better. All lives do matter, but black lives are more likely to be in danger. When you say All Lives Matter, you are metaphorically sitting in the comfortable seat in the library, but you are not allowing yourself to feel discomfort about the fact there has been a laptop charger taking up a desk for three hours while some people are sitting on the floor. 

I am proud to be a feminist, because feminism means equality for all, but recognises that the ones in need of increased equality are not men. I am a feminist because I have been lucky enough to be surrounded by men and women in my life who raised me to blossom as the person I am, not to shrink because I am a girl. Who told me that I was worth exactly the same as the boys in my class, that I had the right to raise my hand and ask as many questions. That I had a voice that I didn’t have to apologise for. 

I am proud to be a feminist because I want to stand behind every single person who has experienced sexual harassment, assault or rape. Feminism taught me to say to the man who grabs me outside a night club that if he doesn’t let go, I will punch him in the face. Like a man. Feminism taught me that I should never apologise for having good ideas, or let others take credit for them. 

Feminism taught me that I was worth more than the man who tried to stick his hand up my skirt when I was fifteen, then shouted at me because I wouldn’t let him. That it is my body and my choice. That gender doesn’t matter, I can do whatever I want. That I can be whoever I want. whatever that may look like. 

By being a feminist, I do not hate men. I don’t think that men should be treated better than women. All I want is equality. I am 20 and I am already tired from all the fighting I have had to do to be heard over the stigma that seems to be engrained to so many people’s brains. 

I am with Masie Williams on this one. We should just start calling people who are not feminist sexist, whatever their gender might be. Because not recognising that there is a gender imbalance, that women are treated differently to men, that is sexism. If you don’t believe in feminism, you believe in equality, you are sitting in your comfortable seat in the library and you are pretending not to notice that while you are on Facebook for three hours someone is trying to write an essay kneeling on the floor. 

Feminism isn’t just for women. It is about dismantling toxic masculinity that ensure men who are raped do not speak out about it. So men do not get attacked in nightclubs and schools and by other men and women because it is not ok to assault someone in any circumstances. So male victims of domestic violence get support, Women who commit crimes against men get punished equally, so men who do not fit the masculine norm are supported. So being like a woman is no longer a slur. It’s something to be proud of. 

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2 thoughts on “Explaining privilege to the privileged and why not being a feminist is sexist

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