I have been thinking a lot lately about male privilege and masculine of center privilege. I have been having discussions on the topic with friends and lovers. I asked Kyle if he would consider writing on the topic from his perspective as a masculine of center person (MOC) who experiences privilege and who’s privilege is increasing as he becomes more masculine in appearance. (I encourage you to check it out because he speaks to the topic much more eloquently than I am able. Thoughts on Masculine Privilege )
In a recent conversation with my primary partner on this topic, she seemed surprised that I thought she had any privilege as a masculine presenting woman. I reminded her a few incidents in our past.
A few years ago, my primary partner and I went to a gallery show of photographs at our local queer community center. We had looked at all of the pieces and were just hanging out sipping the free wine and chatting with a woman who was new to the area. She looked to be in her early 30's, sort of granola-ish mixed with Portlandia. She seemed educated and was interested in meeting more lesbians in the metro area. She started pouring herself more wine so I asked if she could please refill my glass as well. She started then stopped to ask my partner if it was okay if she poured me more wine. I was dumbfounded. Was she concerned that I had already had too much to drink or did she think I needed permission from my partner to have someone else pour me wine? Since I'd only had a half a glass there's no way anyone could have thought I had been drinking too much. It was like I was with my parent, instead of my partner, or this woman thought I was a piece of property.
Another time I was in a crowded room at a queer poetry/performance art event; people were packed wall to wall. A friend accidentally brushed against my breasts on her way past me to the restroom. She then apologized to my partner for brushing against my breasts, not to me (not that this is something that even needed to be apologized for as it was so crowded and completely unintentional). Again, I was viewed as property and not a person.
Neither of these events took place at a sex party where someone might think there was some sort of master/servant or dominant/submissive thing going on, where one might want to be viewed as property. These were public events that were not exclusively for but catered to queer folks in progressive Portland, Oregon.
My question is this: What happened to feminism?
Because I love makeup and dressing girly does that mean I do not have a mind and voice of my own? Because I often date people on the masculine end of the spectrum, does that make me the little lady who is not also strong and fierce and independent?
It burns me up I tell you. I frequently want to shout out I AM THE BOSS OF MYSELF! I am an independent individual with agency to make my own choices, to speak for myself, to own my own body.
Would these same woman have treated me as property of another if I had been there with a cis man instead of a MOC female partner or would they have realized to do so would be buying in to patriarchal notions we struggle against as women? Why is it different if my partner is a masculine of center woman?
It burns me up, I tell you.