As a black man fighting to develop his identity, while trying to be conscious of some of the more toxic traits of a patriarchal society, I can honestly say that I’ve never experienced blatant sexism until today. I literally watched a group of people treat me different because I was a male compared to my coworker. Wow.
In the Midwest, I am more likely to experience discrimination because of my skin color than my sex. Women have been in some of the positions I’ve held at the highest regard my entire life. I was raised by all women. I was taught by all women. I was molded into the man I am today primarily by all women. That is not to say I am perfect by any measure or that I am completely devoid of misgivings but today was shocking.
I was sent with my white female coworker to pick up an order from Chick-fil-A. My coworker and I are both graduate assistants and she’s even a couple of years older than me. We walk in, tell them about the order, and they start to prepare our food. Then it got weird.
The managers kept coming up and only acknowledging me. One manager walked right past my coworker and only shook my hand, even after I tried to introduce her. He never looked at her while talking and completely ignored her unless I redirected attention. They assumed I was superior to her in some way, shape, and form. I’ve never had that happen before.
It was a weird feeling, seeing male privilege first hand. Especially since I’ve experienced Whiteness be the trump card against all problems, it’s weird to see maleness take precedent. It felt weird. I felt uncomfortable.
While leaving, my coworker said that she’s experienced it multiple times down South but she also recognizes her privilege from day-to-day, especially when it comes to police. I spend a lot of time struggling with struggling with my own trauma from dealing with the police in Illinois but I expected things to be much worse down South. I’ve been blessed to be safe and not have many issues so far but this was a first.
I definitely recognize my privilege is often having to not think about my privilege. I don’t tend to worry about sexual abuse or rape. I know that I can laugh loud, sit wide, and feel not threatened the majority of my life. I know that my forthrightness can be seen as charming coming from me but when my ex tried it, it was frowned upon. I know that I still have a long way to go. I know I am not there already, but I never felt my privilege be so apparent before.
Male privilege is a real thing that is also connected to toxic masculinity. The idea that “manly men” must be in charge is harmful to men and women. Anything classified as the other is ignored and discarded. It was interesting watching intersectionality at work and seeing it come out differently than expected. I am still processing today but I wanted to share my experience and that it’s making me think today.
Take a moment and challenge your privilege today. Whether it is ableism, gender, race, or religion, think about someone else that doesn’t get the same benefits of ease. Think about how you can help someone overcome these challenges. You can make someone’s world a better place.
Turn Your Brightness Up!
I don’t know the original artist but I wanted to share this also: