The Expected Privilege

“I’ve had the privilege to…” has become an everyday phrase that we use to describe a particular situation in which we feel lucky or honored to have encountered, whether we are meeting someone famous or receiving a prestigious internship. But for half the population, some privileges have been molded into expected entitlements and birthrights.

A privilege is defined as a special right granted to an individual or an exclusive group of people, but because 3.5 billion men share a common right due to their sexual orientation, it is now the norm that men deserve more than women. I remember attending a family dinner and hearing one of my uncles say, “My female colleague received a position in the Chinese government last week. She must feel so lucky!” But why should she feel blessed that she earned a position she is good at? In today’s society, it is no longer exceptional or special for men to receive more than women, so this masculine “privilege” seems to be transforming into a societal verity.

Because man represents “both the positive and the neutral” and woman is merely “the negative,” the unusual and special feelings that privileges are associates with are slowly disappearing in the male society, and anytime women receive a status equal to men, that becomes a privilege (de Beauvoir).

de Beauvoir, Simone. “2. The Second Sex: Introduction.” Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives. Ed. McCann and Kim. New York: Routledge, 2003. 32-40. Print.

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