Fandom and Male Privilege

The following is an excerpt from an article posted by Cereta at her Live Journal, and it explains more clearly than I ever could why… well, just read it. And comment.

Flash forward a few years to my active gaming days, when the majority of my social life was either gaming or hanging out with my gaming-geek friends. As should be no surprise, the majority of those friends were men. In a group of, oh, about 30 or so people in various concentric circles, there were about four women who regularly showed up at parties and other functions.

After a while, we began organizing “chick nights,” gatherings of just the four of us and maybe some other women we knew from outside the group. For reasons that were often kind of bizarre, some of the men in the group took exception to this. They never organized nights at which we were excluded. When we pointed out that by the law of averages, a good half of the various social outings ended up being guy-only, they replied that it was not the same thing.

“Look,” I finally said to one of them, “when we get together Saturday night, we’re going to paint our nails and put goop on our faces and play with each others’ hair and watch movies with really hot guys and talk about how hot the guys are and probably talk about sex and periods and all that fun stuff. Do you really have any interest in that?”

“No,” he replied, “but we could do other stuff instead.”

That’s just a tiny snippet, but it’s a perfect example of how male privilege works, and how unconsciously men promote it and expect it. A guy who loves baseball but not soccer probably doesn’t take offense if his soccer-loving pals get together to watch a game and don’t invite him (or invite him, but on the basis that he can either watch the soccer or go away). But when women get together to do stuff that doesn’t interest the guy friend in her example, his reaction is totally different. It’s not different people having different interests. It’s women getting away with something: an evening that isn’t designed around what guys like. Are they allowed to do that?


  1. Gategrrl says

    I agree with this completely – although I haven’t come across this yet within Stargate fandom (that I’ve noticed). Very little to add to this.

  2. Jennifer Kesler says

    I felt the same way.  It’s not prevalent in every fandom, but it’s something I’ve seen peppered throughout my experience, and not just in terms of gender.  Example: if a black man gets a job when there was an equally qualified white male candidate, it’s "reverse discrimination".

    Or if a homosexual couple wants to have the right to visit each other in the hospital as family, that’s "an attack on traditional marriage".  Which is odd, because when longterm heterosexual "domestic partners" (who have clearly rejected traditional marriage, rather than just not have the option) ask for the same thing, they get sympathy.

    Once a privilege gets built into a culture, people stop seeing it.  It’s Just The Way It Is.  And any attempt to modify the default settings becomes an attack against the very fabric of society!

  3. Jennifer Kesler says

    Got another thought on this. Do women want into male spaces just out of nosiness? Or is it because they actually enjoy gaming, or male-dominated fandoms, or sports, or whatever? I think it’s usually the activity women want to be part of – not the men involved in the activity.

    But what was the guy in Cereta’s example after – the one who thought the women should both include men, and adjust their activities to be more stereotypically male stuff? Obviously, he doesn’t want to participate in the sort of slumber party stuff Cereta told him they’d be doing.

    It’s like he just can’t tolerate the girls getting up to stuff unsupervised. Like the very idea that women might have a good time without men is an assault to the collective male ego. Or something.

    It’s just… well, I don’t like slumber party stuff myself, so when a group of girls get together to watch Beaches and cry and perm their nails or whatever, I don’t feel excluded. Hell, I’m usually more worried they’ll try to involve me in stuff I don’t want to do.

  4. Casey says

    Sorry to be a thread necromancer, but I’m a wrestling fan and this kind of stuff happens ALL.THE.TIME. GODDAMN!
    I’ve been involved in many an instance on /wooo/ or the Wrestlecrap forums where female and LGTBQ fans have a thread discussing which wrestlers they think are hot and more often than not it gets derailed by a het/cis-male fan who complains that what we’re doing is gross and we should stop, OR says something along the lines of “if you people are allowed a space to discuss your sexual preferences, then that means we’ll have to open up a whole separate forum for EVERYONE’S SPECIFIC NICHE!” I’ve also seen flame wars erupt simply because a straight male fan complains about a gay male or straight female’s avatar or signature depicting an attractive half-naked man, despite the fact that 70% of the male forum posters have avis/sigs of attractive women wrestlers/anime and VG characters/movie stars/porn stars/musicians…Just oblivious male privilege in , I guess (when it’s pointed out to them their hypocrisy they try to mansplain that it’s “normal” and we shouldn’t argue…ARGH).

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