In last week’s issue of the Foghorn, Pearson Kunz wrote of the university’s efforts to raise awareness about the natural advantages men have in society – a universal phenomenon that the organizers of the event deemed “male privilege.”
Most men in our country never become aware of the “birthright” that they unjustly inherit due to a combination of the prevalence of the traditional American family unit and a confusingly complex cultural paradigm that dictates men must manage to construct their identities along orthodox themes of masculinity in addition to what a post-modern man should be: sensitive, caring for his partner/other whilst respecting their independence and helping them achieve their aspirations.
Modern American men are caught in the crossfire of a contemporary culture war where the angels of our better nature must cede to what virtually all men have and always will want: to be able to control the zeitgeist of American society.
How can one teach young men who have begun to fully embrace the power they have received – however undeserved – and convince them to give up a patriarchal way of life that has rewarded their mindset for millennia?
Humans are terrified of change. If one sends the message to young men who are beginning to form their identities that they should not have an advantage, but instead must be equal to women based on a meritocracy where they can possibly be beaten in what matters the most to them, what should the leaders of USF’s Intercultural Center expect?
An opportunity to see the light or the answers by forum’s participants to “‘what it means to be a man’” like: “‘dominant, breadwinner, unemotional, sexual.’” Can school administrators really tear down generations of social injustice that predates Abigail Adam’s plea to her husband to “remember the ladies” as he took part in writing a document that proclaimed “all men are created equal?” In a cruel parallel to the bipolar messages that American men receive from society, the answer is no, they cannot.
We as men won’t learn to regard women as our equals from administrators who simultaneously support events like the male privilege forum and fraternity formal events like “Miami Phice” – a blunt allusion to the sex, drugs, and violence that were hallmarks of the show and 1980s – all from one of the country’s oldest fraternities that encourages its members to call themselves “gentlemen.”
Readers of this article may grow despondent or angry after reading what has been written so far. As Gloria Steinem once said, “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” Yet there is hope, not for this generation, but for future ones. The solution to shortening the curve of the long arc of moral progress is to teach today’s young women to raise their children to demand the society that our parents told us we would inherit. An America where all are equal and have the ability to achieve based on their own abilities and talents.
For unfortunately our generation will never become fully enlightened to the prosperity that true equality holds, but there is still hope that the generation we bring in to this world might.