Among young feminists in America there has been a major contention of “male privilege.” What they mean by this is that men have things easier in life by virtue of the fact that they are men. Well, strangely enough that’s not true. Nonetheless these girls (ooh, sorry, GRRRL) believe men have an innate privilege.
They evidence this contention in a number of ways, but one is that a woman has an easier time telling a romantically pursuing male to buzz-off by saying “I have a boyfriend” than telling him “I am not interested.” The sin behind this, they contend, is that a man respects a contending male more than the desires of a woman.
However, I disbelieve this argumentation. First women desire men who actually pursue them (see the Norah Vincent story), and it is not only universal male experience, but even demonstrable that a man who gives up too easily is unattractive to women. That’s why crappy romantic comedies always have the man chase after the woman (which according to sexual harassment seminars is “stalking”). She wants him to implicitly say, “I am not going to give up.”
Second, because women want a man to pursue them, even if an individual woman does not want to be pursued it is not wrong for a man to inquire. After all, how is he to find out if a woman is interested unless he inquires? It’s not as if in either case we can read minds.
If a girl has a problem being assertive on her own (which women routinely cite and I believe is because of the unique position of women) she may find it easier to imply that a more assertive personality exists. Women are seeking a man to be assertive for them, so let them. Men are apparently supposed to be both assertive to be attractive, but unassertive in the pursuit.
What we are really saying in all of this is that women seek out male leadership. It has nothing to do with male abuse; it has everything to do with the nature of women. I can see how a bunch of feminists who reject the innate differences between the sexes would chafe at that. But I do believe there are inherent differences between the sexes.
Men do need to respect women’s desires because they are the weaker of the sexes. (Yeah, I said it). They should not be forced to bear your boorish attempts to hit on them if they don’t want it. But if they find it easier to let a guy down easy by saying they have a boyfriend than to directly reject him, well whatever. I think they are setting both up for failure, since he may not read a lack of desire, but simply another obstacle to overcome. What I don’t see is “male privilege.”