The people most skeptical about men’s issues are often those on the social justice left who are very passionate about issues facing racial minorities. This is puzzling, given the substantial overlap between men’s issues and minority issues. If it’s a major concern that incarceration rates are six times higher for blacks than whites, surely it’s also a major concern that they’re eleven times higher for men than women (U.S.A. 2010).
Here I look at a 7-point white privilege list from Everyday Feminism called “7 Actual Facts That Prove White Privilege Exists in America”. As it turns out, in most of the areas given as examples of racial inequality, it is men rather than women who are worse off.
This is a quick demonstration of the overlap between minority issues and men’s issues, and why it’s strange to care about the former but dismiss the latter. Don’t take it as a comprehensive comparison of men’s and women’s advantages or disadvantages.
(Length: 1,300 words.)
1. You Are Less Likely to Be Arrested
The article says that minorities are more likely to be arrested and jailed than whites. Minorities are 30% of the overall population but 60% of the prison population.
It goes without saying that men are worse off here. Men are 49% of the American population but 93% of the federal prison population (Oct 2017). There is strong evidence (studies here) that men are treated more harshly in the justice system, throughout the process (chance of arrest, likelihood of incarceration, length of incarceration, etc).
2. You Are More Likely to Get into College
The article is ambiguous about whether it’s referring to raw rates of college attendance, or chance of acceptance given the same qualifications (it appears to hint at the latter without actually saying it—pay attention to the word “many”). But, according to a 2009 study, blacks and Hispanics actually get a boost to their chances (Asians are penalized), so I will judge this according to raw rates of attendance, where blacks and Hispanics are behind.
Rates of post-secondary attendance (college and university, two year and four year) are lower for men than women in all races provided by the National Center for Education Statistics (U.S.A, 2014), so it is men who are worse off in this area.
3. You Are More Likely to ‘Fit In’ and Get Called Back for a Job
The article says that having a black-sounding name is a burden when looking for a job. It only mentions anecdotes, but there’s actual research supporting this.
For gender I really think this is debatable. Some studies have found a bias against women, but overall there’s conflicting evidence (e.g. conflicting studies on hiring bias in science), and it probably varies by field and industry. Still, this is a common point made by feminists so I’ll give it to them and say that women are worse off here.
4. You Are Less Likely to Be Perceived as a ‘Thug’
The article says that non-whites are much more likely to be seen as “thugs”, citing a sports figure who calls it “the accepted way of calling people the n-word nowadays”.
For gender, it should be clear that the term is primarily used on men rather than women, so men are worse off here. See these results of an image search for the word:
(It’s actually strange to look at perception of “thuggishness” without taking into account actual rates of thuggishness. Realistically, the fact that black men are considered thugs more often than white women is not just an artifact of perception. But my intention here isn’t to critique the article’s points for race, it’s to show how they apply to gender.)
5. You Are Less Likely to Be Labeled ‘Angry’
The article talks about minorities who express anger in a public or professional setting receiving a more negative reaction than they’d get if they were white.
I don’t know which gender is more likely to be seen as angry, but I do know that there’s evidence suggesting that being seen as angry is more of a negative for women. This study created fictional male and female jurors trying to make their case about a judgement. Being angry helped men’s persuasiveness, but it hurt women’s persuasiveness. For this reason I’m saying that women are worse off here.
I do want to note though that the article also mentions emotions in general, saying that being able to express a range of emotions without blow-back is a privilege. Clearly men do not have the privilege of expressing a range of emotions. Even feminists pretty widely accept that men’s overall emotional expression is more restricted by social norms than women’s (this article advocating feminism for men quotes a sociologist saying that gender norms pressure men into “repressing their emotions”).
6. You Are More Likely to Make Headlines When Missing
The article talks about Missing White Woman Syndrome, which is the media’s “habit of sensationalizing the cases of missing white young women and girls”.
The very name of “Missing White Woman Syndrome” shows that men are also less likely to make headlines, so men are worse off here. It’s male disposability.
7. You Are More Likely to Find Adequate Housing
The article talks about housing discrimination against blacks and Latinos, in both renting apartments and buying homes.
There are some gender differences in home ownership rates, but they aren’t consistent enough or large enough for me to focus on them too much.
(In the U.S. in 2014, single female-headed households had a slightly higher home ownership rate: a 1% gap. Women had a somewhat higher home ownership rate than men in Australia in 2011-12: a 4% gap. Older data from Canada, 2006, show a large advantage for lone father households over lone mother households: a 12% gap, and a small advantage for women living alone over men living alone: a 2% gap.)
Now let’s look at renting. I compared the combined number of results for “female only” + “females only” with “male only” + “males only” in a search for housing on Craigslist in five North American cities (December 10th, 2017). There were 7.3× more advertisements excluding men than excluding women, so men are worse off here.
These are, of course, a relatively small percentage of all listings, but they are only the people who explicitly stated a gender requirement. This doesn’t even count listings with unstated gender requirements or preferences. I don’t know how how many listings have those, but from these results we can reasonably guess at which gender they’d prefer.
Although the article didn’t mention it, it’s also notable that racial minorities (particularly blacks in the U.S. and Aboriginals in Canada) are disproportionately likely to be homeless. For gender, men are also disproportionately likely to be homeless.
After this evaluation, we’re left with five areas where men are worse off: #1 (criminal justice system), #2 (rates of postsecondary education), #4 (perception of thuggishness), #6 (making headlines when missing), and #7 (housing), and two areas where women are worse off: #3 (job callback) and #5 (perception of anger).
There are a few different choices I could have made. For #3 (job callback) I could have pushed more about the evidence on job discrimination not being nearly as consistent as people assume, and not give the disadvantage to either gender. For #4 (perception of thuggishness) I could similarly not give the disadvantage to either gender, since it doesn’t take into account actual rates of thuggishness. For #5 (anger and emotions) I could have focused less on anger in particular and more on the ability to express a wide range of emotions without blow-back, and instead say that men are worse off.
But we’d still have fundamentally the same picture: major overlap between minority issues and men’s issues. If you’re enthusiastic about issues facing racial minorities but dismissive of men’s issues then you’re treating many of the same issues differently depending on which group is affected.