Male Privilege Checklist: Harassment, Car Sales, Housecleaning, and Weight

Chuckdarwin,” while criticizing the Male Privilege Checklist, wrote:

5. The odds of my encountering sexual harassment on the job are so low as to be negligible.

Anecdotal. Unprovable. As a manager, I have fired people for sexually harassing men at work.

I looked into this after reading Chuck’s post, and I think he has a point. #5 is too strongly worded; in the US, according to Federal EEOC statistics, the proportion of sexual harassment charges filed by women has dropped from about 90% to about 85% over the last decade. Therefore, I’ve rewritten #5 to say “I am far less likely to face sexual harassment at work than my female co-workers are.”

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

Salesmen just want your money, no matter who you are. While it may still happen in rare cases, this is just neurotic tinfoil hattery and an unimportant concern in the grand scheme of women’s issues.

That this happens – and doesn’t appear to be a matter of “rare cases” – has been documented by sending male and female negotiators, trained to use identical negotiating techniques, to car lots to negotiate for cars. The initial offers made to men are simply better. (This doesn’t mean that women will always pay more, just that they’ll have to negotiate harder to reach the same price.) (References at bottom of post).

Admittedly, the academic research I’ve read only applies to the US. However, a November 2005 story in The Guardian reported that a non-academic British study had found similar results.

What Car? magazine sent men and women into 45 dealerships across England, and used hidden cameras and microphones to track their progress.

The team found the women were quoted up to £1,800 more to buy a BMW 320i, Ford Focus 1.6, Nissan X-Trail 2.2 dCi, Vauxhall Corsa 1.2 and Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet 1.6. On average they were asked to pay a premium of £534. [That’s $1,005 U.S. -Amp]

Less than half the staff were happy to cut prices for female customers, compared with more than four-fifths for men.

More women thought their inquiry had not been taken seriously by the dealer, and complained that finance packages had not been explained. Even the presence of a man appeared to cut prices, with couples offered a better deal even if the woman took the lead.

In general, the theory that the free market prevents market-based discrimination from happening – “Salesmen just want your money, no matter who you are,” as Chuck puts it – has not been supported by the experiences of discriminated-against groups, or by empirical testing.

37. If I have a wife or 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.

This one is just plain old insulting.

#37 is well-supported by tons of research, from a large number of countries (I’ve included a handful of citations at the bottom of this post). Women do more household chores, and in particular are more likely to scrub the toilet, wash dishes, change the diapers, etc – tasks that must be repeated again and again, day after day.

I don’t see why any man should find this insulting. Some men do as much or more housework than the women they live with (I live with such a man), but statistically these men are a minority; why be insulted because I point this fact out?

41. I am not expected to spend my entire life 20-40 pounds underweight.

Come on, now. This is all based on ‘target weight’, which is in no way an exact science (and that’s as nice as I can be about the ‘subject’). No one EXPECTS any woman to be 40 pounds underweight. Some famous models and actresses may try this, but most people actually say it’s a BAD thing (reading the tabloids whilst in line to purchase groceries).

41. Probably I could have phrased this better – in particular, including a particular poundage was a mistake. So point well taken. I’ll have to reword this item.

But I feel that Chuck is focusing on the trees and ignoring the forest. Is there any serious doubt that women as a group face much more pressure than men to be thin?

(This is one of a number of posts responding to Chuck’s critique. You can use the category archive to see all posts related to the Male Privilege Checklist.)


Ayres, Ian, “Fair Driving: Gender and Race Discrimination in Retail Car Negotiations,” Harvard Law Review, volume 104 (4), February 1991, pages 817-872.

Ayres, Ian and Siegelman, Peter. “Race and Gender Discrimination in Bargaining for a New
Car.” American Economic Review, June 1995, 85(3), pp. 304″“21.

Batalova J.A.1, Cohen P.N., Premarital Cohabitation and Housework: Couples in Cross-National Perspective, Journal of Marriage and Family, Volume 64, Number 3, August 2002, pp. 743-755.

Harless D.W., Hoffer G.E., Do Women Pay More for New Vehicles? Evidence from Transaction Price Data, The American Economic Review, Volume 92, Number 1, 1 March 2002, pp. 270-279.

Joni Hersch, Leslie S. Stratton, Housework and Wages, The Journal of Human Resources, Vol. 37, No. 1. (Winter, 2002), pp. 217-229.

Lee, Yun-Suk & Waite, Linda J. (2005), Husbands’ and wives’ time spent on housework: A comparison of measures. Journal of Marriage and Family 67 (2), 328-336.

Fiona Scott Morton, Florian Zettelmeyer, Jorge Silva-Risso, Consumer Information and Discrimination: Does the Internet Affect the Pricing of New Cars to Women and Minorities?, Quantitative Marketing and Economics, Volume 1, Issue 1, Mar 2003, Pages 65 – 92

Scott J. South, Glenna Spitze, Housework in Marital and Nonmarital Households, American Sociological Review, Vol. 59, No. 3. (Jun., 1994), pp. 327-347..

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130 Responses to Male Privilege Checklist: Harassment, Car Sales, Housecleaning, and Weight

  1. 101
    B says:

    While I agree that rewards is good, sometimes women might prefer feeling like they worked together with a partner rather than training a dog.

    Possibly an explantion for all single women with cats..

  2. 102
    Lee says:

    Mythago, sorry this is delayed – I spent most of yesterday helping my mom with my grandmother’s Medicare forms.

    The boasting is mostly a direct counterpoint to the women kvetching about what assholes *their* husbands are (if in a group consisting solely of women) and Pavlovian behavior reinforcement (if in a group consisting of men and women or mostly men). It’s one way for us to prompt the clue fairy to pay follow-up visits to these people, because he gets to boast about it, too. Even in our Blue State environs, we are unusual in our division of labor.

    And we use it to point out that things really ought to be more equal by now. Ya know, we go to a potluck, everybody starts complimenting me on the brioche tete or the salad, and I say, “well, actually, Husband made it.” Or we have people over for dinner, they admire our living room, and I say, “well, actually, I only picked out the couch and the loveseat, Husband has much better color sense than I do.” Or a neighbor asks which lawn service does our edging, and Husband gets to say, “well, actually, Wife does it.”

    Also, he catches so much flack at work for taking time off to do stuff with and for the kids that I think it’s kinda important that he gets positive reinforcement and appreciation at home. He remains the only man in his office who has taken paternity leave after lo, these many years since FMLA.

  3. 103
    Chris says:

    I disagree that it’s like training a dog.

    My ego and sense of empowerment is important to me. I enjoy feeling like a hero. It makes me feel good. When I feel like a villian, I get complacent and lazy. . . it hurts. I want to crawl into a quiet place and wait for the feeling to go away, because if I’m a villain, then everything I touch is going to turn to crap. I’m radioactive. . . I’m a danger to myself and others.

    But when I feel like a hero, it only empowers me to act like one so I can keep the feeling as long as I can. I can do anything when I’m a hero. I can save the world if I want to. That’s what heroes do, after all.

    Nothing imspires me to feel heroic like a little public praise. How much effort does it really take to throw in a kind word in public now and then? A little gushing about what your husband is doing (in earshot of me, of course) goes a long way. Fifteen seconds once a week?

    It’s a really simple matter, but it pays off. I glow for week whenever it happens, and it makes me feel good about “us.” It makes me feel good about the relationship. It even improves the way I feel about everyone who was at the party. It makes me want to do more for all of them, like some kind of self-fullfilling prophecy.

    I say, you’re not training a dog. I say you’re inspring the hero inside of the man.

    Isn’t that enough of a reason to do it?

    – Chris

    P.S. How that for cornball?

  4. 104
    wolfa says:

    Chris, do you also praise your wife — or thank her — for these things? I mean, everyone likes being thanked for the unpleasant tasks they do (though not in lieu of being helped with them).

  5. 105
    B says:

    Who doesn’t like/need compliments?

    Maybe I was a little harsh before and I am sorry for hurting you guys. However, this situation for many women, namely the need to be calculating just to make your partner in life take up less than half of the common workload, is neither nice or fun .

    A lack of compliments and appreciation in a relationship seems to me to be a different question alltogether. Even though that, too, might be disproportionate depending on gender.

  6. 106
    tesla says:

    Latecomer here to the checklist threads…but a side note. It’s about the weight one. I apologize if someone else has already mentioned it and I missed it among the other comments.

    #XY. I can be assured (unless I carry a much higher than average amount of bodily fat; larger men often lose this privilege) that when selecting or consuming foodstuffs in public, perfect strangers will not feel qualified to critique or otherwise comment on my dietary habits should my selections impress them as too rich/fatty/meaty/large in portions. I am not expected to, when choosing a rich dessert, fatty steak, basket of fries or other food not found in the rabbit-chow section of the local co-op, order less than half of what a man does and/or split it with at least six of my friends.

    At one time I would have thought this white-centric, but I have since observed it among Black female undergraduates at my university.

    This one particularly grates on me because it’s not just about expecting women to lose weight; it relates also to how the culture sees women and desired resources in general. In times when a man was expected to pay for his wife’s meals, anything she ate used up some of another person’s hard-earned resources, rather than anything she’d worked hard for and earned on her own. A desireable woman was one who could look good and work hard around the house while placing a minimum strain on her man’s financial capacity. That meant eating a lot (especially rich, expensive or “unnecessary” foods), spending money on herself or engaging in “vices” such as smoking or drinking were strictly verboten. When the culture comments on the eating or spending habits of women who consume even an average adult amount, this tradition is continued.

    While it’s true that the whole culture could be eating a little healthier and consuming a little less, this expectation shouldn’t be gendered.

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  8. 107
    ginmar says:

    I always wonder about these guys who expect to be praised for doing housework. Do they thank their wives for every damned task they do, every time? Robert’s attempt to make it nature rather than nuture is another way of avoiding thanks and responsibility.

    And the thing about the toilet? That’s easy. You’re cleaning someone else’s shit, and you’re doing it on your knees.

  9. 108
    kathryn in sunnyvale says:

    Reading your posts inspired some thoughts about what it is people ‘get’ out of housework. Rather than thinking about the process of cleaning, consider the goals. Before you talk with your wife about setting up a new process (schedules, compromises, etc), research what your goals and her goals are.

    For me, I’d want to first find out her goals without directly asking her- this is an observation and history project. What does she get if her process of cleaning is done? i.e. I’d guess it will be hard to negotiate on process if you haven’t first decided on the goals.- you could just end up talking past each other, or proposing new processes that don’t contribute to goals and thus sounds unthoughtful.

    For example, here are my goals for cleaning:
    1. No bad surprises
    2. No missing items
    3. No suddenly and unnessarily difficult projects
    4. Being ready for guests
    5. Efficient and predictable time management.

    These are all about housecleaning, even though cleaning isn’t mentioned in them. What it means to me:

    1. No bad surprises– no bad stinks, no zones with too much dust or mildew (I’m mildly allergic. Several friends and relatives who might visit are allergic),
    no sticky messes that could get onto my clothes just before work or could attract ants,
    no clutter where I could stub my toe when up in the middle of the night.

    2. No missing items- I’ll always have enough kitchen supplies to make a meal, dishes to put out a meal, clean towels (remember no stinks) and a mildew-free shower, and some clean clothes for either casual or slightly dressy situations.
    No workspaces disappearing. Similarly, “Chairs ready to sit” and “Guest bed ready to use” count.

    3. No suddenly difficult projects (things that could have been avoided i.e. bad surprises)–
    no needing to frantically clean dishes because the dishwasher wasn’t run, no needing to suddenly run to the store for household basics- food or supplies-
    no needing to vacuum because it hadn’t been done for weeks,
    no needing to empty a really full and stinky catbox- or scoop the yard– because its been skipped (not to mention an unclean catbox is cruel to cats),
    no needing to do all the garbage and rake all the compostibles just before garbage night when all I want to do is read before bedtime.

    4. Be ready for guests. While of course theoretically the deepest of friends can come over no matter what the house looks like (and not even then- what if they have dust allergies?), I want to be ready for any visitor to drop by, perhaps stay in the guest room, without cleaning. I don’t want guests arriving to the smells of cleaning supplies.

    What if you’re carpooling and a coworker really needs to use your bathroom? Or you or your spouse is sick and the boss wants to drop off a report?

    5. Efficient time management. By keeping cleaning projects focused and predictable, then I can slot them in throughout the week. “Things I can do listening to radio.” “thinks I can do when I need to get up and stretch.” “things I want to do by myself / not by myself.”

    Using these concepts, consider the “process” of “hang up and put away laundry as soon as the dryer is done.” Years ago I didn’t get why my partner wanted me to do this: I’d rather wait until all the laundry was done before tackling it all. But, then, I considered the goals. 1. No suprises– no finding shirts that are wrinkled, 2. No missing items- no essential clothes that aren’t clean 3. no extra work– jumbled clothes take more time to sort, and wrinkled clothes require ironing. 4. be ready for guests– towels and sheets are always ready for guests, and if we suddenly decide to go out, we have clothes ready. 5. Efficient and predictable– I can listen to music.

  10. 109
    Sailorman says:

    I tried to sell cars for 6 months. I’d have to say the car sales thing is true with a caveat:

    1) people who look like pushovers or who can be easily controlled by the salesmen pay more for their cars;
    2) One of the tactics used to control is confrontation, which many people are socialized to avoid;
    3) more women than men are assumed to be pushovers, which is to say the salesman “tries something” in (presumed) assurance she will not walk out;
    4) in reality, this creates selective perception: There are certainly more men who are pushovers, but they never get “discovered” because the salesmen don’t go all snarky on them. If you try the tactic on women all the time, you’ll find more women who are pushovers!
    5) continue as above.

    If you think that women really ARE less confrontational you can see it will have even more effect.

    It’s really a lot like police work: If you arrest a lot of blacks on a pretext, and only arrest whites with clear probable cause, you’ll arrest more blacks, so you’ll convict more blacks. Which gives you (incorrect) justification for your pretextual arrests, which makes you go do it more, which reinforces your (incorrect) beliefs. And so on.

    I really don’t think the weight thing is accurate.

    You might rewrite it to say:
    “…so that she can get the social effects she wants.”

    Or else you’re just faulting men for enjoying the way thin women look.

    SOCIETY will not castigate a woman who isn’t like Kate Moss. She may or may not get the girl/boyfriend she wants, but that’s really her call. She will have friends, get into school, get jobs, get cars. Just like me, if she wants to look like a certain way she may need to change her behavior. The “need” to be underweight is really not the same as some of the other needs in the list.

  11. 110
    Dale Kemp says:

    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.

    Comment: Women do the chores that they want to do, which means those that are relatively clean, or nurturing. Women wait (and wait, and wait) until the get their men to repair the car, change the tire, replace the toilet, fix the plumbing leak, remove the prickly weeds, and so on. If it’s really hard or nasty to do, women try to get men to do it. So, yes, women do more hours of household work than men, but men do the tasks that women really don’t want to do.

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  13. 111
    britgirlsf says:

    “Women, on the other hand, have to do many little preventative tasks on a regular basis, from peeing after sex to changing and cleaning underclothes even more frequently during menstruation. No, it’s not fair that guys can just roll over and go to sleep covered in all sorts of foreign fluids and remain perfectly healthy, or that we can wear the same underwear for 30 days without washing them (though you might get some nasty dermatitis, which wouldn’t be comfortable on the penis but isn’t going to make you sterile).”

    Wow, just…wow.
    1. Failing to pee after sex is not actually lethal for those of the female persuasion.
    2. Changing underwear more often during mentruation? Were you under the impression that we didn’t change it daily already? Barring unfortunate accidents I’m not getting this at all. You’re imagining that menstruating women run around changing their panties every couple of hours? Because that sure would be inconvenient at the office.
    3. I personally have rolled over and fallen straight asleep after sex on many occasions without performing some elaborate cleaning ritual involving disinfectants and douching. I’m not dead yet, nor have I ever suffered any kind of infection as a result of doing so, yet I have a vagina. Mysterious…
    As to the wearing the same underwear for 30 days…I think that a man who would do so would be rather an outlier, don’t you? Or at least rather unpopular?

    I now have a funny mental image of a woman looking at her watch and going “uh oh, 3:15 PM, time to do the genital check! OK, all good, must remember to perform the next act of routine maintenance at 5:30. Better change the panties, too.”
    Hey Amp, that would make a great cartoon…

  14. 112
    britgirlsf says:

    “I’m female and not much for house cleaning. I can relate to Robert’s spoon, although mine was a coffee cup. But I feel weird about not caring; I feel like I’m lacking some urge I am supposed to have. I think that’s the result of socialization that women and girls receive. The men who commented here appear not to have received this socialization insofar as they seem to feel it’s perfectly natural for them not to care about cleaning.

    I might argue therefore that it’s a male privilege not to be constantly assaulted by messages about how it’s your responsibility to keep your environment clean and tidy. ”

    And Steph hits the nail on the head. It’s socialisation, not biology. Postive versus negative reinforcement, classical conditioning and all that jazz. There are just lesser social penalties attached male skankiness than to female skankiness.

  15. 113
    Torri says:

    excuse me while I vent on-topic.
    My brother seems to go further and further downhill, I try to find comfort in the perception that when he says misogynistic stuff he’s only joking… but his attitude towards housecleaning is scary.
    I’d say I’m a lot less picky about tableware then my brother, he tends to complain if there’s a smudge left on his knife or fork that I’d usually miss. But despite this eye for cleanliness he holds the attitude of entitlement. He’ll often get up to get a new utensil etc while complaining loudly at mum that it wasn’t cleaned right. The usual response is ‘well maybe you should do the dishes more often’ to which his response is ‘No, it’s not my responcibility’
    … though in his ‘defense’ he will do dishes when it’s only me and him at home…

  16. 114
    Julie, Herder of Cats says:


    Saturday I went looking at cars after coming back from building a house (I actually stood around and watched — the board of directors, and some executives from a local builder did much of the work, but I digrees) and wasn’t just LIED to about the car I was looking at, I was lied to about half a dozen things about the car I was looking at.

    Men don’t go through 1/10th the cr@p women do when it comes to buying cars. Men can ask straight questions, and subject only to slimey sales practices, get straight answers. Women have to put up not only with all the slimey sales practices, but some pretty straight forward lies and deceptions. And don’t DARE be interested in performance cars because then the poor sales dude hasn’t a clue how to even talk about performance to a woman.

    All done. Feel better now!

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  21. 115
    Alexandra says:

    Well I am certain that few men have had this experience. I had been working full time and tied up with many outside activities. My husband was home with the kids most of the time. The house was untidy. A friend of my husband, had shown up unexpectedly. He looked at the mess and said to my husband “this place is a pigsty, why dont you make her clean it up” My husband after being afronted by this rudeness, actually flipped out on me. I looked at him and asked him why didnt he say “what makes you think it is her job” I was the main wage earner at the time and the one working outside of the home but was still expected to take on the majority of the housework. While my experience was extreem it is not really outside of the reality for most women. If the housekeeping is not up to snuff it is blamed on the women. I even found the expectation that I would do the majority of the house work was there when living in a rooming house with males.

  22. 116
    TruthTalker says:

    >But I feel that Chuck is focusing on the trees and ignoring the forest. Is there any >serious doubt that women as a group face much more pressure than men to be thin?

    Isn’t this because all women have chosen to compete to be thin?

    As a man, it’s been my observation that women are the Editors of the Fashion Magazines that establish the trends women strive to uphold.

    Here’s a question to ponder:
    If all women were to agree to never wear makeup again would men care?

  23. 117
    kristyn says:

    It really bothers me that none of the ”weight” questions and assumptions made here were challenged. Amp, did you ever do a followup on this, or did you just leave the weird evo-psych turds convinced that women make each other anorexic because of a biologically programmed need to compete for men who are biologically programmed to ”like the way thin women look”?

    I think I need to go puke up everything I just ate so that some man doesn’t fuck with me for ”being fat.”

  24. […] at Alas, a Blog Ampersand has been going through the Male Privilege Checklist, discussing and explaining the entries. In Amp’s post on Harassment, Car Sales, […]

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  27. 119
    Magnetic Dave says:

    On the cleaning issue, I’m a little confused by the wording, especially as to how it represents male privelege. I would understand it if it was presented as “if you are in a relationship, it will be expected that we will divide up the household chores…”, so I suppose it’s a bit of a semantic issue. If it’s an agreement that we enter into, and both parties genuinely feel that they are being treated fairly, I’m not sure I see the problem. There’s a slight issue of reinforcing gender roles if you have children, but if both parties feel that they are contributing equally to the household (or at least, proportional to the amount of joy they receive from the issue),

    I do take your point, though, that in many households these chores fall to the one with two X chromosomes with no debate, or or the debate is forced by other, more clearly sexist demographics (“I go to work therefore you must cook and clean, and by the way, you are not allowed to have a job so there’s no chance of me cooking and cleaning EVAR”).

    Incidentally, I’m not only the male who scrubs the toilets and cleans the kitchen in our relationship (mostly because my partner is more of a slob than me, rather than because I’m super-clean), but when I dated women who were more clean than me it was a source of perpetual and intense discomfort to me. I always felt that I was somehow irresponsible and deficient for not being the one who got around to hoovering or cleaning the kitchen first, although I think I’m probably a bit of an outlier on your graph.

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