The Altoona Mirror gets letters. Since the area it serves is overwhelmingly conservative, most of the letters, even those not scrawled in crayon, hue to the viewpoints of the far right. Let’s take a moment to read one such heartfelt letter:
I have noticed that people have different opinions on abortion.
And even teenagers talk about and have different opinions. I have several friends that say that it should only be legal in cases of rape. A few people say it is up to the couple to decide.
Other friends, and myself included, think that it should be illegal altogether.
The way I see it, it is the same as first-degree murder, and the same as an adult killing a toddler that I see in the news sometimes. Now don’t get me wrong by thinking I don’t feel bad for the women who are raped and get pregnant, but I think they should still give birth and give the child up for adoption.
Also, there is new technology where the embryo is able to, in the very early stages, be transferred to another woman by surgery.
I do feel bad for rape victims. I just don’t think that an innocent baby should be killed.
Junior High School
As much as I want to turn the snark up to 11, and tear into this with bared fangs, I just can’t bring myself to attack the words of a junior high student that savagely. Don’t get me wrong. I desperately want to mock how he has “noticed that people have different opinions on abortion.” “Even teenagers,” he says? I don’t believe it! Everyone knows teenagers don’t have opinions. But other than that, which I honestly could not resist, I am going to rein in the snark.
So if I am not going to tear this letter to shreds, why bring it up? On the off chance that our young Mr. Brandon Imler decides to Google himself one day, and in turn stumbles upon this post. If he does, perhaps he will wonder what the title means, and Google “male privilege.” Maybe he will even realize how his letter reeks of it. You see, young Mr. Imler feels bad for rape victims. He really does! Honestly, he says so twice in the letter. See, if he didn’t feel bad for them, he definitely wouldn’t have said it twice. How absolutely compassionate of Brandon, who’s possession of a penis (great, now the Net Nanny program his mom put on his computer will block this page from his view.) makes the chances of him becoming a rape victim vastly less likely than those of any woman he sees throughout the day. How understanding he is, when his own lack of ovaries mean that even if he would suffer the indignity of a rape, he would never have a pregnancy result from his violation. I mean, it isn’t that much that he requests from women who are so victimized; only the use of their womb for 9 short months, right?
Brandon, I know you may not think that is asking much. Why would you? Not only are you in junior high, but by birthright you will never have to worry about getting pregnant. Like many owners of testes, the thought of being raped has probably never crossed your mind, unless you happen to be especially homophobic, and your youth more than likely shields you from the fact that rape is a worry that women must carry throughout their lives. Perhaps you have never even considered how it would feel, if after you were raped you had to live with a reminder of the act growing inside you, changing your body, risking your life, flooding you with hormones, altering you, because after all, it’s a baby!
Hopefully, you will find this post, and read it. Perhaps it will make you think, maybe plant a seed, and somewhere down the line even change your view. I remember how I stank of male privilege when I was in junior high. No matter how many of my peers still allow it to blind them, I know that it can be shed, possibly not completely, but enough to recognize and confront it.
Male privilege is asking a woman to suffer through something you will never have to experience, while claiming that you feel bad for what you are forcing them to do.
Can you taste it? Chances are, even if you can, you will try to ignore it. Could be you will always equate abortion with first degree murder, in which case I hope that we never meet. To put it bluntly, people who hold views that extreme frighten the living hell out of me. That view leads to violence, just as other facets of male privilege lead to rape.
Or perhaps you will turn out differently, embarrassed by the opinions of your younger self, determined to fight against the veil that clouded your youthful vision.
Either way, off with you now. Back to your fantasy world where teenagers have opinions. (Couldn’t resist that one.)