Q: What do you think of the male privilege of agency? What do you think of the female privilege of protection?
My thesis: men have privilege of agency, women have privilege of (physical and economic) safety, and these mirrored privileges and oppressions are thoroughly entangled.
In the wake of the Enlightenment and the industrial revolution, the value of agency has grown, and the value of safety has declined; it's just and necessary to interrogate and renegotiate the privilege of agency. This can't be achieved, however, without interrogating and renegotiating the occulted shadow of male privilege of agency: female privilege of safety.
Feminism recognizes correctly that men have had, and continue to have, a privilege of agency--the right to travel, contest, struggle, own, rule, act in the world. In the wake of the industrial revolution, that privilege needed to be renegotiated. In conditions of rapidly expanding wealth, amid a wider variety of social options, agency has higher value. Furthermore, most useful labor draws on capacities that neither sex has a decisive advantage in. Agency is simply of greater economic value now, and there's less to differentiate men and women than there was in a predominantly agricultural society. There's just more to be gained for everyone by women acting freely in the world.
Women have had, and continue to have, a privilege of safety--the right to be protected, defended, supported, gifted. But everyone's safer now: with the rise of professional law enforcement, falling crime rates, fewer war casualties, etc., the marginal value of personal security has fallen. Finally, physical strength is less decisive in a fight: Smith and Wesson made all men and women equal. For all these reasons, the relative value of individual men providing security has dropped sharply.
In short: if traditional gender roles were functional once, they're much less useful now. In this sense, I support feminism wholeheartedly.
But there's a shadow to the feminist project: women simultaneously deny and defend their privilege of safety. Men suffer. Men are simply in far more danger than women, in most places, from most sources, most of the time, and this truth is taboo.
Third-wave feminist discourse today is obsessed with Violence Against Women. That women are under attack everywhere, all the time, in every aspect, is pretty much axiomatic.
It's bullshit. It's plain bullshit. And it's easy to verify.
Women are victims of violent crime at far lower rates than men in every category except sexual violence...where the waters are muddled as hell. My best guess is that women are victims of somewhere between 60% and 75% of sexual violence, but there's recent data that suggests it might even be close to parity. But men are murdered 3.5 times as often as women, and battery, robbery and so on show similar gaps. Twitter is all, uh, atwitter about harassment of women, but a recent survey of actual data showed male celebrities getting harassing tweets at higher levels than women.
This is consistent across pretty much every statistical report in the US: not counting sexual offenses, men are attacked and harmed at significantly higher rates than women. The data on sexual offenses suggests women are harmed more often--but the data is far more politicized, and far harder to interpret. cf. CDC's current rules defining rape as something that can only happen to women, separating out "made to penetrate" as something different--an awkward, sterile term that doesn't carry the visceral lurch of the word 'rape'. Even though it is.
And that's not even addressing prison rape.
One honest response to this disparity is to suggest that men just basically bring it on themselves, they deserve what they get. Without arguing this point, I'll just point out that the actual violent crime victimization rate in the US goes like this:
black men > black women > white men > white women
If your argument is that violence against men is OK because they're just more prone to it anyway, you're also saying that black men deserve to be murdered the most. White women are the single safest, most protected class in the entire culture, for fuck's sake. Seriously, graph the relative risk for murder and you can barely distinguish white women from the x-axis: black men are about THIRTY FIVE TIMES more likely to be murdered than white women.
Oh, and one other thing: you know who's at highest risk of rape in the US? Black men. It's not even close: black men are at high risk of going to prison, prison rape is extraordinarily common. There's a rape culture in the US, but it's not on college campuses.
What is positively obscene about third-wave "feminism" is that in pinning their colors to the mast of violence against women, using their threatened status to demand concessions and support, they abandon agency, which is what they actually fucking need.