Saturday, February 7, 2015

Male Privilege and Social Desirablity, Part 2

This is going to be an ongoing series as I think of more things to add.

7. It would be more acceptable to make all my decisions based on my feelings instead of logic. This is a confusing one. I mean, I always thought that in this case I was better off being female. Since the stereotype is that male people are more logical and female people are more emotional, I figured I'd have an easier time fitting with the stereotype than going against it. And in terms of sitting down and cuddling and talking about feelings for a long time, it is probably easier to do that because I'm female. But here's something interesting: My mom used to be the CFO at a company, and she was often the only female person on her level, and the only female person in the room at executive meetings. She would do tons of analytical work and present her findings to the group, and then some guy (a different guy each time) who hadn't done any work would say that the figures didn't feel right to him. My mom would ask him to explain what the problem was specifically, and he wouldn't have an answer. He'd just shrug and say that it didn't feel right to him, so then my mom would have to go and do all this extra work. My mom told me that this happened a lot, and she could tell that these guys who claimed the numbers didn't feel right didn't have any basis for their opinion. They hadn't done the work and they really weren't asking intelligent questions that showed that they even understood what my mom was explaining. It was literally just, "This doesn't feel right to me" with no further explanation and then my mom was expected to go and do more work to prove that she was right. I don't think that if my mom had said, "That doesn't feel right to me," in a room full of guys, anyone would be expected to do extra work to prove their point to her. Guys who said that things just didn't feel right got listened to over my mom who had done lots of research and had a strong factual basis for what she presented to the company.

So, even though I would be breaking the stereotype by being a guy who does everything based on feelings instead of logic, I think I would actually experience less pressure to have a logical basis for my decisions. I think people just wouldn't question the basis of my decisions as much because I'd have more authority.

One time in college, I ran into one of my male fiction writing classmates. He said that he wanted to thank me because I was the only person in class who understood his story. He told me that everyone else just didn't get it at all and that he was planning to have a bonfire and burn most of his critique letters. I could relate to him A LOT. I really wanted to pursue a friendship with him, but he didn't seem to remember me when I talked to him the following year. But as he was telling me this, I remember asking myself, why can't I be that way? I mean, I could relate to him 100% on this, especially the part about burning the letters. But when he told me how he felt, he really made it sound like he and I were the only ones who were right and everyone else was just stupid. When I talk that way, everyone thinks I'm the one with the problem and they pressure me to not be so emotional and take things in stride and blah blah blah. I wanted to ask him what his secret was, what was he doing that made it okay to tell a complete stranger that he was right when he had 15 people disagreeing with him and that he was planning to do a purely emotion-based act of burning the letters (because burning doesn't accomplish anything beyond the emotional satisfaction - you can just throw the letters away if you don't want to read them again). I didn't know him well enough to know if he was popular or had social capital, but he clearly felt confident because he stated all of these things as facts me, not anything that he needed to defend.

I just wonder, if I were a guy, how much time I would spend having to defend my purely emotional choices, or if I could just sit back and say, "I'm doing this because I want to, because it feels right," and have it end there.

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