The Male Privilege Checklist

An Unabashed Imitation of an article by Peggy McIntosh

In 1990, Wellesley College professor Peggy McIntosh wrote an essay called “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”. McIntosh observes that whites in the U.S. are “taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group.” To illustrate these invisible systems, McIntosh wrote a list of 26 invisible privileges whites benefit from.

As McIntosh points out, men also tend to be unaware of their own privileges as men. In the spirit of McIntosh’s essay, I thought I’d compile a list similar to McIntosh’s, focusing on the invisible privileges benefiting men.

Due to my own limitations, this list is unavoidably U.S. centric. I hope that writers from other cultures will create new lists, or modify this one, to reflect their own experiences.

Since I first compiled it, the list has been posted many times on internet discussion groups. Very helpfully, many people have suggested additions to the checklist. More commonly, of course, critics (usually, but not exclusively, male) have pointed out men have disadvantages too – being drafted into the army, being expected to suppress emotions, and so on. These are indeed bad things – but I never claimed that life for men is all ice cream sundaes.

Obviously, there are individual exceptions to most problems discussed on the list. The existence of individual exceptions does not mean that general problems are not a concern.

Pointing out that men are privileged in no way denies that bad things happen to men. Being privileged does not mean men are given everything in life for free; being privileged does not mean that men do not work hard, do not suffer. In many cases – from a boy being bullied in school, to soldiers selecting male civilians to be executed, to male workers dying of exposure to unsafe chemicals – the sexist society that maintains male privilege also immeasurably harms boys and men.

However, although I don’t deny that men suffer, this post is focused on advantages men experience.

Several critics have also argued that the list somehow victimizes women. I disagree; pointing out problems is not the same as perpetuating them. It is not a “victimizing” position to acknowledge that injustice exists; on the contrary, without that acknowledgment it isn’t possible to fight injustice.

An internet acquaintance of mine once wrote, “The first big privilege which whites, males, people in upper economic classes, the able bodied, the straight (I think one or two of those will cover most of us) can work to alleviate is the privilege to be oblivious to privilege.” This checklist is, I hope, a step towards helping men to give up the “first big privilege.”

The Male Privilege Checklist

1. My odds of being hired for a job, when competing against female applicants, are probably skewed in my favor. The more prestigious the job, the larger the odds are skewed.

2. I can be confident that my co-workers won’t think I got my job because of my sex – even though that might be true. (More).

3. If I am never promoted, it’s not because of my sex.

4. If I fail in my job or career, I can feel sure this won’t be seen as a black mark against my entire sex’s capabilities.

5. I am far less likely to face sexual harassment at work than my female co-workers are. (More).

6. If I do the same task as a woman, and if the measurement is at all subjective, chances are people will think I did a better job.

7. If I’m a teen or adult, and if I can stay out of prison, my odds of being raped are relatively low. (More).

8. On average, I am taught to fear walking alone after dark in average public spaces much less than my female counterparts are.

9. If I choose not to have children, my masculinity will not be called into question.

10. If I have children but do not provide primary care for them, my masculinity will not be called into question.

11. If I have children and provide primary care for them, I’ll be praised for extraordinary parenting if I’m even marginally competent. (More).

12. If I have children and a career, no one will think I’m selfish for not staying at home.

13. If I seek political office, my relationship with my children, or who I hire to take care of them, will probably not be scrutinized by the press.

14. My elected representatives are mostly people of my own sex. The more prestigious and powerful the elected position, the more this is true.

15. When I ask to see “the person in charge,” odds are I will face a person of my own sex. The higher-up in the organization the person is, the surer I can be.

16. As a child, chances are I was encouraged to be more active and outgoing than my sisters. (More).

17. As a child, I could choose from an almost infinite variety of children’s media featuring positive, active, non-stereotyped heroes of my own sex. I never had to look for it; male protagonists were (and are) the default.

18. As a child, chances are I got more teacher attention than girls who raised their hands just as often. (More).

19. If my day, week or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether or not it has sexist overtones.

20. I can turn on the television or glance at the front page of the newspaper and see people of my own sex widely represented.

21. If I’m careless with my financial affairs it won’t be attributed to my sex.

22. If I’m careless with my driving it won’t be attributed to my sex.

23. I can speak in public to a large group without putting my sex on trial.

24. Even if I sleep with a lot of women, there is no chance that I will be seriously labeled a “slut,” nor is there any male counterpart to “slut-bashing.” (More).

25. I do not have to worry about the message my wardrobe sends about my sexual availability. (More).

26. My clothing is typically less expensive and better-constructed than women’s clothing for the same social status. While I have fewer options, my clothes will probably fit better than a woman’s without tailoring. (More).

27. The grooming regimen expected of me is relatively cheap and consumes little time. (More).

28. If I buy a new car, chances are I’ll be offered a better price than a woman buying the same car. (More).

29. If I’m not conventionally attractive, the disadvantages are relatively small and easy to ignore.

30. I can be loud with no fear of being called a shrew. I can be aggressive with no fear of being called a bitch.

31. I can ask for legal protection from violence that happens mostly to men without being seen as a selfish special interest, since that kind of violence is called “crime” and is a general social concern. (Violence that happens mostly to women is usually called “domestic violence” or “acquaintance rape,” and is seen as a special interest issue.)

32. I can be confident that the ordinary language of day-to-day existence will always include my sex. “All men are created equal,” mailman, chairman, freshman, he.

33. My ability to make important decisions and my capability in general will never be questioned depending on what time of the month it is.

34. I will never be expected to change my name upon marriage or questioned if I don’t change my name.

35. The decision to hire me will not be based on assumptions about whether or not I might choose to have a family sometime soon.

36. Every major religion in the world is led primarily by people of my own sex. Even God, in most major religions, is pictured as male.

37. Most major religions argue that I should be the head of my household, while my wife and children should be subservient to me.

38. If I have a wife or live-in girlfriend, chances are we’ll divide up household chores so that she does most of the labor, and in particular the most repetitive and unrewarding tasks. (More).

39. If I have children with my girlfriend or wife, I can expect her to do most of the basic childcare such as changing diapers and feeding.

40. If I have children with my wife or girlfriend, and it turns out that one of us needs to make career sacrifices to raise the kids, chances are we’ll both assume the career sacrificed should be hers.

41. Assuming I am heterosexual, magazines, billboards, television, movies, pornography, and virtually all of media is filled with images of scantily-clad women intended to appeal to me sexually. Such images of men exist, but are rarer.

42. In general, I am under much less pressure to be thin than my female counterparts are. (More). If I am fat, I probably suffer fewer social and economic consequences for being fat than fat women do. (More).

43. If I am heterosexual, it’s incredibly unlikely that I’ll ever be beaten up by a spouse or lover. (More).

44. Complete strangers generally do not walk up to me on the street and tell me to “smile.” (More: 1 2).

45. Sexual harassment on the street virtually never happens to me. I do not need to plot my movements through public space in order to avoid being sexually harassed, or to mitigate sexual harassment. (More.)

45. On average, I am not interrupted by women as often as women are interrupted by men. (More.)

46. I have the privilege of being unaware of my male privilege.

(Compiled by Barry Deutsch, aka “Ampersand.” Permission is granted to reproduce this list in any way, for any purpose, so long as the acknowledgment of Peggy McIntosh’s work is not removed. If possible, I’d appreciate it if folks who use it would tell me how they used it; my email is barry.deutsch@gmail.com.)

(This is an occasionally updated document; the most current version of The Male Privilege Checklist can always be found at amptoons.com/blog/the-male-privilege-checklist . The views expressed here, which I started writing in 2001, unavoidably fail to precisely express my current views; that’s life, isn’t it? To see posts discussing the Male Privilege Checklist and various items on it, please visit this archive page).

* * *

Related links

For another feminist list with a different thematic approach, see Andrea Rubenstein’s “Think We’ve Already Achieved Equality? Think Again.

A list of links to many other “privilege lists.”

1,110 Responses to The Male Privilege Checklist

  1. 1101
    Jake Squid says:

    And here better commenters than I – I’m reading you, Ruchama & Harlequin – get to the root of the matter. The revulsion of PUA’s comes from their attitude towards women. Strangely, so do their tactics.

    Since I have nothing but admiration for women who have sex with as many or as few partners as they like, I also have nothing but admiration for men who have sex with as many or few partners as they like.

    The disdain and revulsion and contempt that you see towards PUA’s on feminist leaning sites has everything to do with their attitude towards women/assumptions about women that lead to their tactics and nothing to do with how many sexual partners they have.

    For those of us who strongly believe that women are people in exactly the same ways that men are people, PUA’s (and MRA’s) are repulsive, offensive, immoral pieces of shit. But that has nothing to do with how many sexual partners they have had.

  2. 1102
    Hill Guthrie says:

    Ok. If it is true that the majority dislike the intentions and methodology of a PUA but do not the care about the fact they are having sex with many women than it leads me to question how emotionally compartmentalized and sexually liberal are the masses.
    As evidenced by the polling data in the articles link from my original post more conservative views against promiscuity in young adults are more common that permissive ones. This changing viewpoint is the big take away.
    Independent of this the masses are aware of promiscuous men who are bashed for their efforts to act in the same manner as their female counterparts labeled sluts. I think this meets the criteria to invalidate #24.

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  5. 1103
    Diane Nash says:

    I feel this study is extremely vague. Male and women both have areas of privilege. In some areas women will have to be more driven to get the results they are wanting. But the same is true for men in other areas or even the same areas with different circumstances. Peggy is approaching this subject with biased point of view.

  6. Pingback: [7. Teil]: Weitere Beispiele für männliche Privilegien aus verschiedenen, gesellschaftlichen Bereichen (II) | "Wir leben unsere Leben in einer erfundenen Wirklichkeit, hinter den Worten einer langen Erzählung."

  7. 1104
    Bad Horse says:

    For those of us who strongly believe that women are people in exactly the same ways that men are people, PUA’s (and MRA’s) are repulsive, offensive, immoral pieces of shit.

    I don’t believe you know anything about PUAs. What makes them repulsive, offensive, and immoral?

  8. 1105
    Jake Squid says:

    To quote extensively from the comment at the very tip top of this very page…

    The revulsion of PUA’s comes from their attitude towards women.

  9. 1106
    Bad Horse says:

    To quote extensively from the comment at the very tip top of this very page…

    The revulsion of PUA’s comes from their attitude towards women.

    What attitude, specifically?

  10. 1107
    Xander says:

    1. My odds of being hired for a job, when competing against female applicants, are probably skewed in my favor. The more prestigious the job, the larger the odds are skewed.
    - False. I am a software packager in the netherlands.

    2. I can be confident that my co-workers won’t think I got my job because of my sex – even though that might be true. (More).
    - False. I have flirted with my bos sin my last job. It resulted in promotion

    3. If I am never promoted, it’s not because of my sex.
    - False. I was promoted because I fucked my boss.

    4. If I fail in my job or career, I can feel sure this won’t be seen as a black mark against my entire sex’s capabilities.
    - True.

    5. I am far less likely to face sexual harassment at work than my female co-workers are. (More).
    - False. Sexual harrasment includes women threatening sexual harasment complaints against you. The chance of this happening to a man in majoraly female office are exceedingly high.

    6. If I do the same task as a woman, and if the measurement is at all subjective, chances are people will think I did a better job.
    - False. I a software packager. There are very exact metrics by wich we measure.

    7. If I’m a teen or adult, and if I can stay out of prison, my odds of being raped are relatively low. (More).
    - True

    8. On average, I am taught to fear walking alone after dark in average public spaces much less than my female counterparts are.
    - True

    9. If I choose not to have children, my masculinity will not be called into question.
    - False. Men at my age still without childeren are considered weird. I am 37.

    10. If I have children but do not provide primary care for them, my masculinity will not be called into question.
    - False. a man who fails at being a good father is considered the lowest of the low.

    11. If I have children and provide primary care for them, I’ll be praised for extraordinary parenting if I’m even marginally competent. (More).
    - False. A father is always seen as the lesser skilled parent.

    12. If I have children and a career, no one will think I’m selfish for not staying at home.
    - False. a man who fails at being a good father is considered the lowest of the low.

    13. If I seek political office, my relationship with my children, or who I hire to take care of them, will probably not be scrutinized by the press.
    -False, because I live in the netherlands where the personal life of politicians simply does not matter. We have a goddamn pedophile party over here.

    14. My elected representatives are mostly people of my own sex. The more prestigious and powerful the elected position, the more this is true.
    - SOrt of true, I think. However I used to date a council member of rotterdam, she is a woman. Currently the Netherlands has 5 female ministers and 6 male ministers. The secrtary generals are mostly woman. up to a few years ago we had a queen, there is no higher office.

    15. When I ask to see “the person in charge,” odds are I will face a person of my own sex. The higher-up in the organization the person is, the surer I can be.
    - True

    16. As a child, chances are I was encouraged to be more active and outgoing than my sisters. (More).
    - False. however my family is progressive. We recieved no role affirmitive upbringing. We did start demanding gender specific toys after a point though.

    17. As a child, I could choose from an almost infinite variety of children’s media featuring positive, active, non-stereotyped heroes of my own sex. I never had to look for it; male protagonists were (and are) the default.
    - Mostly true I think.

    18. As a child, chances are I got more teacher attention than girls who raised their hands just as often. (More).
    - extremely false. Might even be a lie. Girls always get more attention school no matter the situation. The idea that this is teh other way around is extremely alien to me and I do not believe at all that this happens anmywhere. Prove it

    19. If my day, week or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether or not it has sexist overtones.
    - true.

    20. I can turn on the television or glance at the front page of the newspaper and see people of my own sex widely represented.
    True, and is the same for women.

    21. If I’m careless with my financial affairs it won’t be attributed to my sex.
    - False. This statement is from opposite land. The default is “Men are spendthrifts and their wives moderate them and manage the household funds”. I have no idea where you got this biozarre idea.

    22. If I’m careless with my driving it won’t be attributed to my sex.
    - extremely True.

    23. I can speak in public to a large group without putting my sex on trial.
    - False. Show evidence that teh entire female sex is on trial when one woman gives a presentation. I will have to see evidence that women experience this before I believe it.

    24. Even if I sleep with a lot of women, there is no chance that I will be seriously labeled a “slut,” nor is there any male counterpart to “slut-bashing.” (More).
    - partially False. I am in fact considered to be a slut. However this is not said in any way negative like slut shaming. I experience no slut shaming

    25. I do not have to worry about the message my wardrobe sends about my sexual availability. (More).
    - True. On the flipside I can choose from only one fashion style that hasn’t changed a bit for the past 100 years or so.

    26. My clothing is typically less expensive and better-constructed than women’s clothing for the same social status. While I have fewer options, my clothes will probably fit better than a woman’s without tailoring. (More).
    -False. look it simply is not possible to buy a suit of the shelf and have it fit as tailored. it always has to be changed at least slightly to get that perfect fit. The build quality is exactly the same but mens clothing is still more expensive. Absolutely nothing of this point is based on reality.

    27. The grooming regimen expected of me is relatively cheap and consumes little time. (More).
    - True. However only for “special” occasions (special I use broadly, going to an important half hour meeting with the boss falls under this for example)

    28. If I buy a new car, chances are I’ll be offered a better price than a woman buying the same car. (More).
    - Cannot comment, never bought a car. Sounds very likely though.

    29. If I’m not conventionally attractive, the disadvantages are relatively small and easy to ignore.
    - false. It is much harder for an unatractive male to achieve anything in life. Being unatractive is openly held against you as a male. I am very lucky to have pretty face privelege.

    30. I can be loud with no fear of being called a shrew. I can be aggressive with no fear of being called a bitch.
    - False. While I will not be called a bitch, I will be physically attacked and arrested at the first sign of agression and the second I am loud people stop taking me seriously.

    31. I can ask for legal protection from violence that happens mostly to men without being seen as a selfish special interest, since that kind of violence is called “crime” and is a general social concern. (Violence that happens mostly to women is usually called “domestic violence” or “acquaintance rape,” and is seen as a special interest issue.)
    - true. However so can women. While at the same time men cannot ask for legal protection for domestic issues. In fact the mman will be arrested in all cases of domestic violence, even if he is the victim.

    32. I can be confident that the ordinary language of day-to-day existence will always include my sex. “All men are created equal,” mailman, chairman, freshman, he.
    - True. However this is only in egnlish where for some strange reason the word “Men” or “Man” kan be used as synonym for human. The rest of the world does not suffer this problem.

    33. My ability to make important decisions and my capability in general will never be questioned depending on what time of the month it is.
    - True

    34. I will never be expected to change my name upon marriage or questioned if I don’t change my name.
    - False. however this is a recent development. Yes a woman can demand it as. The current default is to add teh others name unto the own name seperated by a dash.Pesonally I feel we should just keep our names, name the sons after the men and the daughters after the women. So obvious.

    35. The decision to hire me will not be based on assumptions about whether or not I might choose to have a family sometime soon.
    - False. However this is only false in northern europe where men and women get equal maternity leave and it hurts the company the same no matter what or who gets pregnant.

    36. Every major religion in the world is led primarily by people of my own sex. Even God, in most major religions, is pictured as male.
    - True. Let’s bring back gaia to get some balanc eup in that religion thing.

    37. Most major religions argue that I should be the head of my household, while my wife and children should be subservient to me.
    - True. foget my previous comment about religion. let’s just remove it from the world completely instead.

    38. If I have a wife or live-in girlfriend, chances are we’ll divide up household chores so that she does most of the labor, and in particular the most repetitive and unrewarding tasks. (More).
    - False, utterly astoundingly false. if I want a relationship that lasts longer then a month or so at least. No woman in her right mind will put up with that shit.

    39. If I have children with my girlfriend or wife, I can expect her to do most of the basic childcare such as changing diapers and feeding.
    - no comment. This depends on to many factors. Rest assured that if she has the better career I will be the one at home changing diapers.

    40. If I have children with my wife or girlfriend, and it turns out that one of us needs to make career sacrifices to raise the kids, chances are we’ll both assume the career sacrificed should be hers.
    - False and utterly retarded. Offcourse not, you sacrifice the least lucrative career. Think of your families bottom line.

    41. Assuming I am heterosexual, magazines, billboards, television, movies, pornography, and virtually all of media is filled with images of scantily-clad women intended to appeal to me sexually. Such images of men exist, but are rarer.
    - True

    42. In general, I am under much less pressure to be thin than my female counterparts are. (More). If I am fat, I probably suffer fewer social and economic consequences for being fat than fat women do. (More).
    - True. Hoever the economic consequences are equal

    43. If I am heterosexual, it’s incredibly unlikely that I’ll ever be beaten up by a spouse or lover. (More).
    - true

    44. Complete strangers generally do not walk up to me on the street and tell me to “smile.” (More: 1 2).
    - false. Hoever I’m attractive so that might skew it.

    45. Sexual harassment on the street virtually never happens to me. I do not need to plot my movements through public space in order to avoid being sexually harassed, or to mitigate sexual harassment. (More.)
    -true

    45. On average, I am not interrupted by women as often as women are interrupted by men. (More.)
    -Sounds likely

    46. I have the privilege of being unaware of my male privilege.
    - False. Being of a privileged sex and class in a privileged country and looking around me has made me accutely aware of my “good looking half-blood male”-privelege. when it comes to gender differences I see this more in the smaller things. Like for example if I stand somewhere with my sister (equal size and good looks) if we are aproached they talk to me first. I do not notice it in big things like carreer. I know for a fact that female software packagers get paid theexact same as me. Currently we have a lady who is paid more then me, and rightly so since she has 5 years of seniority on me (in experience, not living years).

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