Dear Privileged Men
Why we need privileged men at Aberdeen University to work harder for social equality
By Jeevan Bains
Credit to Benjamin Lessard
The people that need to read this the most, will likely scroll past. We are all thinking about it, so why are we not talking about it?
Why am I focusing on privileged men? I have met some men this year who are passionate about social equality and making the world a better place – that is great. Of course, I am aware that females should also be encouraged to continually support social equality. However, from my experience, I have never been discriminated against by a female, but I have been called every name under the sun by the demographic I will term ‘privileged men’.
What do I mean by privileged? By ‘privileged’ I mean men who have not had to face the struggles or discrimination that minority groups do and do not use their privilege to speak. Also, those that socialize with people who are (purposely or not) discriminatory or treat others disrespectfully. By social equality I mean encouraging equal treatment and respect regardless of sexual orientation, race, social class and gender. We all know this is an issue, so why is no one speaking about it? Many people aren’t ready for this topic, but it is ready for you. From my experience, the ‘privileged male’ is a vital target demographic that has been missed out. They have not been educated on the injustices they pass by and how actions affect minorities and therefore, frankly, they often do not care. I do not believe that this demographic will be inclined this way forever, if they are challenged, but perhaps that is just my undying liberal optimism. So, I reiterate, welcome to my opinion on why privileged men at Aberdeen University need to work harder for social equality.
Why don’t privileged men speak up? I don’t know many proud, male, social equality advocates. I applaud the work done by the few I am aware of; the recent Aberdeen BLM Protest was organized by one – a job well done. I feel that more of the target demographic have the potential to be equally well-spoken advocates for social equality. However, I am not sure if apathy, lack of information or genuine ignorance, is the reason why they do not speak up. I think when given the environment and opportunity, a proportion of this demographic would act, internalize and demand change. A proportion is better than none. A lot of these men, as many would be, are scared to speak up against their peers, with no support. As a general society and University, we have failed to help create an environment that allows movement in the right direction. Privileged men won’t speak up if they are not encouraged to – we have not been encouraging them.
Stop preaching to the converted.
I have been friends with some so-called privileged men that I have met through mutual friends. In that time I have been the spokesperson for the entire LGBTQ+ community, debunking misconceptions, making these guys realize that we too have good craic, love a night out and are able to hang out just like anyone else – that we are more than the ‘gay’ label that many privileged men seem to see so negatively. I am proud to have made these few realize that there’s more to ‘the gays’ than a list of stereotypes. It really is like this; this is not an exaggeration.
It is interesting to see people share resources that are more often than not, preaching to the converted. We are sharing resources with people that are already respectful of LGBTQ+ communities, that are aware of sexual harassment against female - and male - populations, and the importance of racial justice. Privileged men hold the key to the places that need social equality information the most. Picture this: if a flower is already self-sustaining, why would you continue to focus on it, feeding it when there is a dying flower in the corner, decrepit and depleted? Here, of course, the dying flower is the target male demographic, the nutrients being fed are information and resources. Get it?
So why are we not focusing our attention to these dying flowers? Because preaching to the converted is easier than creating tangible and active change. The only thing worse than a non-advocate is a performative advocate. Period. That is why I am writing this, hopefully readers will read this and feel empowered to self-educate or help others. Although to add to my point about why men need to work harder to get involved in social equality – many of the said demographic will likely have scrolled, unbothered, past this article. So, for those who are reading, share this article with someone you think could do with it. There is no excuse not to really, besides social stigma - something we are stronger than.
Inspire the dying flowers. I am certain there are guys that would speak out if they had the chance. But the environments they are in have not created an open space for genuine dialogue and information sharing on topics such as homophobia in sport, the hyper sexualization and objectification of women and racism. Therefore, these guys stay silent when their peers make comments and that is why social justice is not being fought for behind the scenes. This isn’t just on campus, but globally. Look at international football and the stories about closeted footballers and sports-men that are scared to come out because of abuse from teammates and fans. The environment fostered in these groups means that these men are hidden away and forced to live double lives where they are one person on the pitch and another behind closed doors. Believe me, this happens, and it is really sad.
So, what should be done? AUSA should be holding societies to a higher standard. Higher standards of awareness and work to make these societies and the campus more inclusive for everyone and inspiring institutions nationally to act. Societies should be wholeheartedly speaking and educating more within their field. Not performative box ticking nonsense. Once the information is out there, one person's internal views will change and, hopefully, they will be empowered to challenge comments and actions as support of others around them grows. It is basic psychology – read about social conformity. Not to mention we need to help foster environments and open dialogues with those around us on a day-to-day basis to speak about these issues, to empower and educate – rather than allowing this to be an unspoken issue.
I could write forever about this, but the aim of this article is for me to start the dialogue and thought process and for you, the reader, to want to continue it. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it. Use this as a springboard to challenge the status quo. Share this article with someone you think needs it. The evils of society truly do not have to stay as they are. Or perhaps that is just my undying liberal optimism.