Do men need to check their privilege? Gender activists tell us that men carry around with them an invisible knapsack of advantage. Well, is this true and is it the whole story? AEI Scholar Christina Hoff Sommers checks the facts.
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If you are willing to cherry pick, stretch the truth a bit, and suppress counterevidence, you can easily make it seem like women are the have-nots in our society. You point to the wage gap, the glass ceiling. You focus on women’s vulnerability to body shaming, sexual objectification, mansplaining, street harassment, intimate partner violence. Before long you will have constructed a full-scale patriarchy. And we have hundreds of women’s groups who do just that—they specialize in persuading us that Venus is victimized and Mars is privileged. But here is the problem. Women’s advocacy groups tend to exaggerate the plight of Venus and ignore the troubles on Mars. As I have tried to show in earlier segments of this series, most of the standard feminist injustice statistics are exaggerated or just plain wrong. It not true that women are being cheated out of 23 percent of their salaries or that 1 in five will be victims of sexual assault. And it’s also the case that, in many critical domains, women are faring far better than men. Let’s consider a few: In education, it is women who are the privileged sex. At every level of education—from preschool to graduate school—and across all ethnic and class lines, women get better grades, win most of the honors and prizes, and are far more likely to go to college. Today, women earn a majority of BAs and advanced degrees. Our schools do a much better job educating women than men. Now look at the workplace. Women’s groups focus a lot of attention on people at the pinnacle of achievement—CEOs of Fortune 500 corporations, tenured physics professors at MIT, U.S. Senators—and they are right to say that there are too few women. But look what happens when you consider the entire workforce. There may be a tiny handful of women—but the lethal professions are largely a male preserve. As my favorite dissident feminist, Camille Paglia, has noted: “It is overwhelmingly men who do the dirty, dangerous work of building roads, pouring concrete, laying bricks, tarring roofs, hanging electric wires, excavating natural gas and sewage lines, cutting and clearing trees, and bulldozing … So it’s no surprise that the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that every year about 5,000 Americans die each year in workplace accidents—92 percent of them men. We hear about the Fortune 500 CEOs, but what about the unfortunate 4,600? Alongside male salaries, perhaps some mention should be made of male sacrifice. Whenever perturbed gender warriors draw up lists of male advantages, they always mention men’s freedom from fear of being attacked. It’s true that women are much more likely to be victims of rape and sexual assault. But men are much more likely to be victims of violent crime as a whole: Consider Campus crime–men may need safe spaces more than women–according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics: Men are twice as likely to be victims of a violent crime on campus.
Look at the overall Murder: Of 12,253 murder victims in 2013, 78 percent were men. Even on the Internet, men face as much or more bullying than women. According to Pew Research, More women than men are sexually harassed (7% women and 4% men), but men are the primary targets of threats (10% men compared to 6% of women).
Let’s continue: Here are more facts that challenge the male privilege mantra: Suicide: 77.9% were male, 22.1% female .
Incarceration: 93.3% of federal inmates are male and even when men and women commit the same crime and have similar criminal histories, men receive 63 percent longer prison sentences on average.
Homelessness: it’s estimated that more than 60% of homeless individuals are male. Combat: 85 percent of active duty soldiers are men. Though there are many women serving in the armed services, fewer than 8 percent profess a desire to engage in combat.
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