A Stinky Analogy on Male Privilege
I live in a community of men and women.
Twelve of us share three bathrooms and one shower. One of these bathrooms has both a urinal and a toilet.
I’m a man.
As a man, I really prefer taking a wiz in a urinal, rather than in a toilet.
I don’t have to touch anything on a urinal. With a toilet, I have to pick up the seat, and then (if I’m feeling like a good lad) I have to put it back down.
This is a travesty in my world.
And, yet, one female living in our community, my friend Clemmy, approached me and said, “Hey, can you please not use the urinal–because it leaves the bathroom stinky.”
At first, I was taken aback: Not use the urinal? It’s my God-given right as a man to use the urinal. WTF.
Our urinal has no flush, and so pee just basically sits there and gets smelly. Myself and every other bi-pedal-peeing male in the joint are just too lazy, I guess, to go out and buy one of those deodorant pucks to keep it smelling like fresh dandelions.
For the record, it does stink.
I just loved peeing in a urinal more than I cared about leaving the bathroom not smelling of my breakfast or morning dehydration to do much about it. After all, I have the right to pee in the urinal. For God’s sake, it’s there–to be used!
However, I decided, after she approached me, that it wasn’t just about what I wanted. I live in a community where my actions affect other people, and since I wanted to be a good community member, it was incumbent upon me to take their feelings and considerations into account, as well.
So, I stopped. Cold turkey. Each and every day, for the past two months, I’ve lifted up that seat with the edge of my index finger. (Which meant that I also had to start washing my hands after taking a pee. Jeez.)
The struggle is ever so real.
I’m not saying that I’m a modern day social justice hero because I’ve stopped using the urinal. But I do feel like a better community member.
Now, as a man, I could have just said, “No, why should I have to be inconvenienced for your sake? I have a penis. It affords me the right to pee in this urinal, which was, I might add, was created specifically for this purpose.”
And… I’d be right.
I’d be an asshole, but I’d be right.
And maybe this analogy can be extended to privilege, in general. It’s not objectively wrong for you not to want to be inconvenienced to:
- call people by “their pronouns”
- say something when your friends are being sexist
- care about people of color being abused by the system that’s supposed to protect them
- care about unnecessary military conflicts that have killed millions of civilians in other countries
However, it means that you’re really thinking about yourself, in a vacuum, without giving two shits about how decisions affect others. And while, objectively speaking, you’re not wrong to keep doing you, subjectively speaking…
you’re still an asshole.