I’ve written a few privilege lists, several of which are about privileged identities I possess. They are serious articles that provide a couple hundred examples of systemic oppression (in the US and elsewhere). This article is not that.
I ask that you please humor me as I take a moment to address the many privileges I don’t have access to, due to my gender expression/ metrosexuality. Also, please note that this list is equal parts true and funny-because-it’s-true (think of it like that expression “I’m just kidding, but seriously.”), but not meant to stand against the other privilege lists. It’s more of an autobiographical reflection on my metrosexuality — a lot of things that came up as I was writing my forthcoming book about gender — presented in a familiar way. Now, in true privilege list format…
Following is a list of privileges granted to masculine dudes (i.e., a “bro”) based on their bro-ness. Odds are, if you’re a bro, you don’t realize you have exclusive access to these things, and bro about your day unbroknownst to the brovantages you broceive.
- You have never thought you dated someone for several weeks, only to find out that the whole time she thought you were just her “Gay Bee-Eff-Eff!”
- And that has definitely never happened twice. In the same semester. Your first year of college.
- When confronting a girl you thought you dated by saying, “But we made out!” you’ve never had to attempt to make sense of the onion-of-layered-confusion response, “I just thought that’s what all gay people did.” Actually, you’ve never had to do the first part, so moot point.
- You don’t consider and reconsider your sock choice before a first date, debating wearing what seems right to you (teal argyle to complement your salmon pants) or what is least likely to result in your date deciding you’re too femme or gay (white socks with grey shoes — try not to vomit).
- Similarly, you never feel pressured to tone down your gender expression in your clothing choices. And you definitely don’t have a personal rule that “only the top OR the bottom can be feminine” (not counting shoes and accessories, of course) (also, not that “top” and “bottom”).
- If you’re straight, you can reasonably assume that people will correctly assume your sexuality, and don’t find yourself constantly having to “come out” as straight.
- If you’re straight, you’ve never had someone argue with you (or attempt to “correct” you) when you tell them your sexuality (“No, I think the word you’re looking for is ‘queer’, son.”).
- If you’re straight, you’ve never had to deal with the awkwardness of being set-up on a surprise date with someone-you-know’s gay friend.
- You don’t have a monthly “hair product” budget. And you definitely never find yourself raising the debt ceiling on your monthly “hair product” budget.
- You feel comfortable wearing sweat pants and a t-shirt as an “outfit,” instead of considering that to be what you wear while coordinating an outfit.
- You’ve never felt the need to say the phrase “coordinating an outfit.”
- You generally receive clothing as gifts that you could actually see yourself wearing.
- It’s easy to find “men’s” clothing that aligns with your style/wants, and fits in a comfortable way.
- It’s easy for you to choose an outfit for an event based on the dress code (e.g., formal = suit and tie; business casual = khakis and polo), and you don’t have to ask a series of clarifying questions (e.g., “how onboard are we with light scarves?”) to avoid offending the host.
- It’s also easy to find men in movies and television shows whose gender expression and sexuality align with yours, and who aren’t just the butt-end of a joke (admittedly, this is getting much easier in the past couple years than it was when I was growing up — thanks R. Gos!).
- You have genuinely wondered, from a position of true ignorance, “why do women wear high heels if they are so uncomfortable?”
- Accordingly, you’ve never worn pants that were so tight you called them “Yoko” because they broke up “the band.”
- “Grooming” is getting your hair cut once a month, and occasionally shaving, not a daily, multi-tool, elaborate science.
- You likely don’t feel the need to own any of the following: tweezers, blackhead extractor, nail file, conditioner, mousse, blowdryer, facial moisturizer.
- “Facial moisturizer” is a punchline to a “that’s what she said” joke, not a nail-biting cliffhanging thought you can’t get out of your head as you consider what you may have forgotten to pack while on a flight to perform in Phoenix.
- You’re not constantly aware/sensitive to how you smell. Though, to be frank, everyone else is (stinko).
- People don’t assume they can ask you to help them go shopping, and force you to either acknowledge their stereotyping of you or lie on principle and pretend you won’t love that.
- You never find yourself pretending to be interested in sports you don’t care about, which leads to awkward conversations where you are weighing in on things you know nothing about, but have developed a vague-but-specific method of conversing that keeps you under cover (albeit stressfully so): “Yeah, they’re looking pretty good this year, at least compared to previous years and/or other teams that play sport in this arena.”
- People are never so surprised when it turns out you’re actually good at sports that they start to question their sobriety.
- When people realize you own a hammer (or other tools), they don’t assume they were part of some Village People-esque halloween costume, but instead assume you know how to use them to, you know, hammer stuff.
- Similarly, people aren’t surprised when you’re into any “bro” stuff (e.g., beer, video games, science, wearing socks with sandals).
- You never have to translate the words that pop into your head (e.g., “cute cardigan”) into brocceptable terminology before saying them (e.g., “solid sweater”).
- You’ve never been beaten up because of your gender expression. Though, in seriousness, it’s likely that the pressures of bro-ness led to some of my (and my metro brethren’s) many adolescent beatings, and some of the aggressors were just as afflicted by gender role pressures as I was.
- Similarly serious, you never feel pressured to participate in objectifying, borderline misogynistic conversations about women that make you uncomfortable, for fear of people questioning your manhood if you don’t.
- People don’t laugh when you describe yourself as a “real man,” thinking it’s a joke, because EVERYTHING IS AN EFFING JOKE TO SOME PEOPLE!
- Other metrosexual guys out there, feel free to share more examples in the comments below (:
Additions from readers:
- “You don’t ever have to worry if your v neck is too low, because chances are the only v necks you own are undershirts.” (from Zak, my actual brother! :))
- “You’ve never had to move your family to a bigger apartment so that you could have your own closet and bathroom.”
P.S. Hope you didn’t take that too seriously and it was fun for both of us.
P.P.S. That’s what my first college “girlfriend” told me after we “broke up.”