I found something interesting on Pharyngula that has inspired me to write about a recent experience.
The other day, my mom and I were walking to the Y downtown and we headed down a street along which numerous construction workers were resting. They were sitting, lined up alongside the sidewalk. I doubt many men have ever felt the uncomfortable feeling of being watched like that. I don't even know if they looked at us, but we were wearing yoga pants and we happen to have vaginas as well as breasts; the odds that a couple of them looked (at least) are great. I refused to look at them because I'd rather not know what they look like and I pretended that I was invisible instead. I don't want to see them because I'm afraid they'll smile or wink or elbow their buddy and point or something. I don't know what they're thinking and I don't want to.
It's not a good feeling. It's a scary feeling. It makes me feel uncomfortable. We weren't about to go back down the street and walk around the block to avoid them. We shouldn't have to.
This wasn't the first time I've felt that and it won't be the last. It was daylight and we were in a relatively busy part of town, and I felt nervous, I felt sick, I felt embarrassed, I felt worried. I didn't feel pretty, I didn't feel sexy, I felt like an object solely for entertainment, but I am not part of a circus. I don't want to feel like I'm in a cage, like a circus animal, where every little move I make appeals to my audience. If I wanted that I'd get myself on a reality show.
Sometimes I think it's the people outside of a circus animal's cage, the ones watching, who are the real animals.
But it'd be my fault if I got raped, naturally. Form-fitting clothes are like gift cards for sex that you give to complete strangers. BRB, I'll go get myself a burka.
Sample of Pharyngula's post:
The Male Privilege Checklist
1. My odds of being hired for a job, when competing against female applicants, are probably skewed in my favor. The more prestigious the job, the larger the odds are skewed.
2. I can be confident that my co-workers won’t think I got my job because of my sex – even though that might be true.
3. If I am never promoted, it’s not because of my sex.
4. If I fail in my job or career, I can feel sure this won’t be seen as a black mark against my entire sex’s capabilities.
5. I am far less likely to face sexual harassment at work than my female co-workers are.
6. If I do the same task as a woman, and if the measurement is at all subjective, chances are people will think I did a better job.
7. If I’m a teen or adult, and if I can stay out of prison, my odds of being raped are relatively low.
8. On average, I am taught to fear walking alone after dark in average public spaces much less than my female counterparts are.
9. If I choose not to have children, my masculinity will not be called into question.
10. If I have children but do not provide primary care for them, my masculinity will not be called into question.
11. If I have children and provide primary care for them, I’ll be praised for extraordinary parenting if I’m even marginally competent.
12. If I have children and a career, no one will think I’m selfish for not staying at home.
13. If I seek political office, my relationship with my children, or who I hire to take care of them, will probably not be scrutinized by the press.
14. My elected representatives are mostly people of my own sex. The more prestigious and powerful the elected position, the more this is true.
15. When I ask to see “the person in charge,” odds are I will face a person of my own sex. The higher-up in the organization the person is, the surer I can be.
16. As a child, chances are I was encouraged to be more active and outgoing than my sisters.
17. As a child, I could choose from an almost infinite variety of children’s media featuring positive, active, non-stereotyped heroes of my own sex. I never had to look for it; male protagonists were (and are) the default.
18. As a child, chances are I got more teacher attention than girls who raised their hands just as often.
19. If my day, week or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether or not it has sexist overtones.
20. I can turn on the television or glance at the front page of the newspaper and see people of my own sex widely represented.
21. If I’m careless with my financial affairs it won’t be attributed to my sex.
22. If I’m careless with my driving it won’t be attributed to my sex.
23. I can speak in public to a large group without putting my sex on trial.
24. Even if I sleep with a lot of women, there is no chance that I will be seriously labeled a "slut," nor is there any male counterpart to "slut-bashing."
25. I do not have to worry about the message my wardrobe sends about my sexual availability.
26. My clothing is typically less expensive and better-constructed than women’s clothing for the same social status. While I have fewer options, my clothes will probably fit better than a woman’s without tailoring.
27. The grooming regimen expected of me is relatively cheap and consumes little time.
28. If I buy a new car, chances are I’ll be offered a better price than a woman buying the same car.
29. If I’m not conventionally attractive, the disadvantages are relatively small and easy to ignore.
30. I can be loud with no fear of being called a shrew. I can be aggressive with no fear of being called a bitch.
31. I can ask for legal protection from violence that happens mostly to men without being seen as a selfish special interest, since that kind of violence is called “crime” and is a general social concern. (Violence that happens mostly to women is usually called “domestic violence” or “acquaintance rape,” and is seen as a special interest issue.)
32. I can be confident that the ordinary language of day-to-day existence will always include my sex. “All men are created equal,” mailman, chairman, freshman, he.
33. My ability to make important decisions and my capability in general will never be questioned depending on what time of the month it is.
34. I will never be expected to change my name upon marriage or questioned if I don’t change my name.
35. The decision to hire me will not be based on assumptions about whether or not I might choose to have a family sometime soon.
36. Every major religion in the world is led primarily by people of my own sex. Even God, in most major religions, is pictured as male.
37. Most major religions argue that I should be the head of my household, while my wife and children should be subservient to me.
38. If I have a wife or live-in girlfriend, chances are we’ll divide up household chores so that she does most of the labor, and in particular the most repetitive and unrewarding tasks.
39. If I have children with my girlfriend or wife, I can expect her to do most of the basic childcare such as changing diapers and feeding.
40. If I have children with my wife or girlfriend, and it turns out that one of us needs to make career sacrifices to raise the kids, chances are we’ll both assume the career sacrificed should be hers.
41. Assuming I am heterosexual, magazines, billboards, television, movies, pornography, and virtually all of media is filled with images of scantily-clad women intended to appeal to me sexually. Such images of men exist, but are rarer.
42. In general, I am under much less pressure to be thin than my female counterparts are. (More). If I am fat, I probably suffer fewer social and economic consequences for being fat than fat women do.
43. If I am heterosexual, it’s incredibly unlikely that I’ll ever be beaten up by a spouse or lover.
44. Complete strangers generally do not walk up to me on the street and tell me to “smile.”
45. Sexual harassment on the street virtually never happens to me. I do not need to plot my movements through public space in order to avoid being sexually harassed, or to mitigate sexual harassment.
45. On average, I am not interrupted by women as often as women are interrupted by men.
46. I have the privilege of being unaware of my male privilege.