Male Privilege


a poem for men who don’t understand what we mean when we say that they have it.

by De Clarke from Banishee, 1981

privilege is simple:

going for a pleasant stroll after dark,

not checking the back of your car as you get in,

sleeping soundly,

speaking without interruption,

and not remembering dreams of rape that follow you all day,

that woke you up crying, and


is not seeing your stripped, humiliated body

plastered in celebration across every magazine rack,


is going to the movies and not seeing yourself

terrorized, defamed, battered, butchered – –

seeing something else.


is riding your bicycle across town

without being screamed at or run off the road,

not needing an abortion,

taking off your shirt on a hot day, in a crowd,

not wishing you could type better, just in case–

not shaving your legs,

having a good job and expecting to keep it,

not feeling the boss’s hand up your crotch,

dozing off on late-night busses,


is being the hero on the TV show,

not the dumb broad,

living where your genitals are totemized – – not denied,

knowing your doctor won’t rape you.


is being smiled at all day by nice, helpful women,

it is the way you pass judgment on their appearance with magisterial authority,

the way you face a judge of your own sex in court

and are overrepresented in Congress

and are not assaulted by the police

or used as a dart board by your friendly mechanic.


is seeing your bearded face echo through the history texts

not only of your high school days, but all your life,

not being relegated to a paragraph every other chapter,

the way you occupy entire poetry books

and more than your share of the couch unchallenged.

it is your mouthing smug, atrocious insults at women

who blink and change the subject – -politely


is how seldom the rapist’s name appears in the papers

and the way you smirk over your PLAYBOY.

it’s simple, really – –


means someone else’s pain.

your wealth is my terror,

your uniform is a women raped to death – – here

or in Cambodia or wherever

wherever your obscene privilege

writes your name in my blood

it’s that simple.

you’ve always had it – –

that’s why it doesn’t seem

to make you sick at stomach.

you have it – – we pay for it.

now do you understand?


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: