"The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall. " – Che Guevara
Generally the only people who discuss sexism topics like male entitlement are feminists. Because of our power system that ensures the preservation of male privilege, feminists can seldom ever discuss anything without being called ‘man-hating’ or ‘self-centred’ or, the favoured word used by conservatists, ‘feminazis’.
But by virtue of me having a dick in between my legs, I indeed do have the male privilege of being able to discuss sexism and get positive recognition for doing so without being labelled as a misandrist. I’ve discussed in earlier blogs the paradoxically racist system we live in, whereby the only people who can discuss racism and be taken credibly and seriously for doing so are whites. The same applies to men and sexism. On the other hand, and this applies to men discussing sexism rather than whites discussing racism, the stereotypes forced upon the concept of masculinity do not incline the definition of ‘being a man/lad’ towards anything remotely feministic, so as a male I’m not able to discuss sexism without appearing to be devoid of any balls or just resorting to a desperate measure to get a shag. Nevertheless, this blog discusses why – from first-had experience of a man – we inherently feel that we have a ‘right’ to women.
If you’re a fellow heterosexual male unfamiliar with what the concept of ‘male entitlement’ is, I’ll sum it up in experience you’ve probably had in on a night out: you see an attractive girl in the club, you ask her for a dance – or if you’re really upfront you’ll ask to get with her – she refuses, and you can’t understand why; you’ve gone out with the intention to get with as many ‘birds’ as humanly possible, so why on Earth would one of them refuse? In a sharp reflex of offence, you call her a slut and storm off.
Why do we do this? Our ‘lad culture’ rhetoric doesn’t make us partial to register females as conscious; phrases like ‘get some pussy’ omit the fact that there is indeed an owner of said-pussy who – believe it or not – can make the decision to refuse us. Thus our language pre-disposes us to feel entitled to a woman, like a sort of insentient prize, and offended if rejected. Let’s also consider when we ask ourselves “why isn’t she in a relationship with me? Unlike her boyfriend I’m a nice guy!” Oh would you look at that – contestant number 4 is a nice guy. Come collect your award! In other words, we convince ourselves that having a benign character immediately bestows us with an entitlement to a relationship, so we’re shocked and often offended to learn that this personality change still has not given us what we want – whilst at the same time overlooking a female’s right to say no. C’mon bro, if you’ve put on this nice guy persona just for sex, can you really call yourself a nice guy at all? In fact the concept of being a ‘nice guy’ to get a girl is often quite the opposite; when a man catcalls in the street or compliments a woman on her arse, they’ll respond to her offence with remarks along the lines of “Geez, quit being so hormonal! I’m just trying to be nice,” and won’t at all see any rational reason for her being upset.
Commercial advertisements instil the conception of male entitlement into us. We may see a fitness mag with the title “Get a six pack to get the girl”, but after getting rock-hard abs we might still be rejected by a woman, and we’ll respond by calling her a whole load of unpleasant names. Just like our language, adverts like this don’t remind us of the fact that women can make a choice to reject us. I’m guilty of it myself – one time drunk in a club I called a girl a bitch for not wanting to dance. If a man sees himself as attractive, he’ll always feel ‘qualified’ to have a woman. Just look at adverts like this one for Lynx; we’re taught that women are bound to come to us if we perk ourselves up in certain ways, and this expectation conditions us to be offended and surprised if they make the voluntary choice not to.
The notion of male entitlement isn’t instinctive – society raises us to have it. One reason why this concept is achieved is that as male adolescents we’re never taught sexual boundaries. I can never remember an incident in which the media or any of my peers have told me that men have to limit the amount of people with whom they have sex. In countries that legalise polygamy, men have the privilege of marrying a multitude of people but women don’t. An extension of this is found in our society; it’s socially acceptable for a man to sleep with a multitude of women, but not vice versa. Resulting from this, adolescent females are instructed by the patriarchal system to limit their sexuality. But because us men are not taught this principle, we feel it okay to pursue any possible opportunity for sex that arises. So when a female refuses to have sex with us, we believe that we’ve been denied our unlimited ‘right’.
Stereotypes enforced on the identity of a heterosexual male overvalue our sexuality and adjust us to the belief that female sexuality exists to involuntarily satisfy ours. Films like James Bond and Good Luck Chuck, in which the protagonists get laid on the reg’, promote the idea that female sexuality is a passive entity that exists only to unconditionally please the hyperactive male sexuality. This presentation of female sexuality is inherently contradictory – if a woman denies a man sex, she’s blamed by men for denying them their ‘right’ and not making them feel ‘manly’; when a woman gives in to sex, she’s slut-shamed by both men and other women. Why do we constantly have adverts telling women what to wear and not what to wear; how to look and how not to look? Because it enables them to fulfil their socially constructed ‘role’ as attractive objects for male pleasure.
But women aren’t the only ones put in an unfortunate position as a result of sexual stereotypes. As males, if we don’t live up to the hypersexual lifestyle to which we’re conditioned to achieve, we feel dejected. ‘Lad/playa culture’ only defines our worth as males by how sexually active we are. As feminists often say, patriarchy can be almost as oppressive to men as it is to women. But when considering the extent of power that the concept of masculinity has in coercing men to maltreat women, I would argue this: men are not the rulers of patriarchy; the stereotypes of being a man are. By conforming to these oppressive customs of ‘manliness’, we – heterosexual men – oppress ourselves.