Abuse of Male Privilege

Okay, I’ve had a hard time articulating exactly why this bothers me, and I want some of my feminist friends to weigh in and help me figure out if I’m on the side of correctness or if I’m making things up.

Last summer, a guy hit on me at work, asking for my number. I told him no and lied and said I was engaged. He said he was married and implied that that wasn’t a major factor. I told him I still wasn’t going to give him my number.

He then told me he was just kidding around and that that’s a Thing he does; asking women in various places for their number to see how they’d respond. I think he was a trucker, so he has a variety of women to choose from I guess.

I haven’t thought about this in a long time, but now that I’m looking at it with strengthened feminist sensibilities, it seems like an abuse of privilege to the max. This is a guy who makes a habit of conducting this odd social experiment on women who are at work (a couple of his other stories involved waitresses).

Females who work in the service industry are generally less likely to say ‘no’ outright for fear of losing their much-needed tips. (Speculation based on personal experience and a look at society as a whole.)

Females who are hit on by complete strangers (especially older men) can sometimes feel threatened by that behaviour because you can never predict the movements of a stranger, and we’re conditioned to be on the defensive to prevent our own assault. That if we are assaulted, we could have/should have done something different to prevent it. (Acknowledgement of rape culture.)

This guy completely disregards the power dynamic involved in him hitting on someone. Not only is there a power dynamic of customer > server, but there’s also the dynamic where he’s a man and that means he has disproportionate power over a woman, both physically and societally. He feels entitled to hit on whoever he wants without regard to the situation he puts them in, without regard to the discomfort they might feel, and without regard to whether or not they want to be hit on. (Especially at work, geez.)

This sense of entitlement and the lack of care for the woman/female being hit on screams “male privilege” to me. Am I wrong? I had a really hard time articulating this when trying to explain it to my husband. Maybe I’m not striking the right words or I’m coming at it from the wrong angle. Halp?


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