Calling It Out
It’s been awhile since I’ve revisited my male privilege response framework, but for men my draft rubric continues to be three-fold:
Admit, submit and commit.
That is, first we need to admit that male privilege exists and systematically exerts influence not only on our culture and society, but on each of us as individual men. Next, once we have identified male privilege and its repercussions, we must submit that privilege to Jesus, seeking to understand how we might redeem the power that culture gives us simply because we are men.
Then, thirdly, we commit to put our privilege to work to bless others, and, in particular, to elevate and empower women. When we commit to leverage our cultural privilege to bless the women around us, we choose things like advocacy, sponsorship and intentional inclusion.
The other day I came across an interesting example of this third step in the response process.
Maybe you’ve heard of ultimate frisbee?
In another life, I played a lot of ultimate, and it’s a terrific sport. Nothing more fun than tossing the disc long and seeing a teammate run onto it for a score. Turns out the sport of ultimate frisbee is not immune to the effects of male privilege.
Thankfully, in this open letter, one player thoughtfully and eloquently calls out his community. And, in the process, he gives us a good example of what it looks like to commit to a posture of advocacy. Here’s an excerpt:
“As men, we have been conditioned to believe that we matter. We’ve been told that we are great. We think we can make the huge throw or the big defensive stop. It is our job to make the big play.
So we show up to ultimate, and many of us play the hero. Some of us give unsolicited advice, shout about how open we are, throw contested hucks, and, all too often, we ignore the women on the field–especially at pick-up games. Maybe we throw to them once. Twice if we think they’re really good. Too often we never even find out whether they’re skilled, because we never give them a chance–as though the chance was ours to give in the first place.
Men: ultimate does not belong to us. The disc is not ours. The game is not ours. Being male does not give us a right to ignore our teammates. When it comes to sports, we are privileged. Women must prove themselves worthy, while men must prove themselves unworthy.”
Not long ago, someone asked me about male guilt, as in “aren’t you just going to make men feel bad about themselves?”
To the contrary!
Because writing a letter like this one, or doing countless smaller things, is a positive thing. It’s prophetic. It’s freeing. This one guy can potentially affect healthy culture change in an entire community. As I’ve said elsewhere, when men commit to advocacy, we benefit and are blessed as well.
Simply put, committing to use our privilege to bless women around us can be empowering for men.
And there’s no guilt in that.