Male Privilege and The Injury of Group Identity

My Dear Readers,

In the last few entries, I have been exploring male privilege in the African-American community.  It is not enough to just say that male privilege is wrong, and it devours the community from within.  We must further understand its roots and causes.

Why does male privilege thrive within the African-American community?  From a clinical perspective, it thrives because of a sense of false empowerment. Rather than empower, however, male privilege only devastates the community, the family, and the individual who seeks to benefit from privilege.

Below is such a story……

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Dear Visible Man,

I recently read an article on the Internet that shocked and disturbed me. I just can’t believe that such disgusting behavior could happen within our community.

The article is entitled “Man Hires Hookers & His Own Daughters Show Up At Hotel.”  It states:

“A California man who called for two prostitutes to come to his hotel room said he collapsed to the floor and had a panic attack when he saw it was two of his daughters.

Father-of-ten Titus McDonalds of Los Angeles said he was having marital problems and went to Las Vegas to blow off stream.”

‘I have never gotten a prostitute in my life,’ McDonalds told Las Vegas Weekly.  ‘ I swear to Christ.  What are the odds it was my own flesh and blood that showed up?  I think this is Lord’s way of bitch-slapping me.’

His daughters, whom he hadn’t seen in years, fled the room upon recognizing their father.  Once McDonalds recovered from the initial shock, he found his daughters, age 20 and 23, in a casino bar.

‘I told them I was sorry for what I did,’ McDonalds said. “I apologized for my actions and told them that I just want my family whole again.  My daughters and I have patched up our relationship.  My marital problems are not over, but we have a wonderful counselor who is helping us through this difficult period.’

‘I used to just spank and spank on them,’ McDonalds said. ‘I was tough on them.  I just wanted them to excel at ballet and get ballet scholarships so I wouldn’t be on the hook for college tuition. But they did not like ballet and I shouldn’t have forced ballet on them.  Everything is my fault.’

McDonalds said his daughters’ plan on continuing to prostitute themselves.  ‘If this is what makes them happy, who am I to stand in their way?’ McDonalds said.  ‘From now on, I’m just going to love and support them.’

‘This is the “Lord’s way of bitch-slapping me.’

And yes, that bitch slap is well-deserved. What kind of monster feels that it’s alright to order up prostitutes as if they were on the menu?  What kind of father is he to say that he won’t stand in the way of their desire to be prostitutes?  As a man and a father of two beautiful young women whom I’ve raised from childhood to college, I am disgusted.

I love my daughters.  As a father, I could never imagine this situation, or the horror that my daughters would be exposed to as sex workers. As a black man, I am embarrassed by his behavior and his willingness to flaunt such ignorance and stupidity.  It makes us as black men look like pimps and irresponsible.

I am so angry.  Why would a black man act in such a negative way? Why would he bring such embarrassment and humiliation upon his race and gender?

-Burning in Seattle

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My Brother,

Thank you for writing.  It has been my experience that men tend to prefer to share their feelings verbally, so I appreciate your willingness to share your concerns in writing.  I hope that as my readers take in your words, more men will do the same.

I also want to congratulate you for your hard work as a single parent.  You have experienced what many single mothers go through in raising children to adulthood. I can sense the pride that you have in the accomplishments of your children.  As you congratulate them, be sure to embrace the self, because you too are a part of this accomplishment.

In this case, I want to encourage you to work towards redirecting the anger you feel.  People who make decisions based on anger are unable to clearly process emerging situations. Your desire to “bitch slap” the father in this scenario is a reaction that reflects more on your mindset than on his actions.

What is called for in this situation is a response.  As a result, you must be willing to own your reactions, be reflective (process feelings and thoughts) and then, share your response with those around you.

I was also quite taken by the writings you have shared.  However, in verifying this with the Las Vegas Weekly, I was unable to locate the specific writing.  In discussions with others who also saw the article, it looks like the article is fraudulent, meaning that Mr. McDonalds and his daughters do not exist and this incident never happened.

Still, many people were shaken angered by this story. Stereotypes about black men were reinforced in this story, and no doubt, the writing produced feelings of embarrassment and shame in black men like you.  Surely critics will use this as fuel for the destructive fires that already exist between black men and women, divide the community and reinforce negative models/mentoring for male adolescents.

However, rather than simply fall for the trap and engage in emotional reactions, I would prefer to take time for a respite (step away), own my reactions (because they are being driven from within,) be reflective (process feelings and thoughts) and develop an appropriate response (shared with the external environment).  Following these actions, I would want to reevaluate (gather what I have learned) so I can prepare for the future as I continue the “journey of self-discovery.”

Even though the article is a hoax, there is still a valuable lesson to be learned about the destructive nature of male privilege. Furthermore, the writing shows how one person who is knowledgeable about the fragility of self-esteem can utilize shame as a tool to not only destabilize an individual, but humiliate an entire community.

Male privilege can be defined as a special right, advantage or immunity granted or available only to men as a class due to their institutional power in relation to women as a class.  While every man experiences privilege differently due to his own individual position in the social hierarchy, ever man, by virtue of being male, benefits from male privilege.

Mr. McDonalds holds male privilege, which can be seen by his actions.  His search for the opportunity to “blow off steam” utilizes the privilege to leave his family, go to another city and break his marital vows in “ordering up” prostitutes to fulfill his sexual needs.

The privilege is extended in this case when Mr. McDonalds, who admits to not seeing his daughters in years, shares his belief that he can patch up the relationship with his daughters by offering an apology and make his family whole again.  In the depth of his privilege, Mr. McDonalds only recognizes the error of his ways when his daughters arrive in the hotel room. It is almost certain that had the two prostitutes not been his daughters, Mr. McDonalds would have not given a second thought to his actions and would have simply done what he went there to do.

Shame can be defined as a painful emotion caused by a strong sense of guilt, embarrassment, unworthiness or disgrace. Shame can be debilitating, toxic and extremely destructive.  Shame works to separate the individual from the psychological self.  It creates an internal crisis that attacks the inner core, triggering a shaming spiral of negative self-talk.

Is there shame in Mr. McDonalds’ behavior? No.  Male privilege prevents Mr. McDonalds from experiencing any of the emotions identified in shaming behavior or action.

Mr. McDonald has never experienced the separation from the psychological self induced by shame because of the benefits of his male privilege.  If there are any feelings being felt, it is one of panic that he almost had sexual relations with his daughters.  Even in his shock, Mr. McDonalds is clearly only concerned for himself:

“What are the odds it was my own flesh and blood that showed up?  I think this is Lord’s way of bitch-slapping me.”

Humiliation is the infliction of a profoundly violent psychological act that leaves the person with a deep wound within the psychological self.

Humiliation is often a painful experience that is vividly remembered for a long time.  This includes the enforced lowering of a person or group, a process of subjugation that strips away a person’s pride, honor, and dignity.

Since Mr. McDonalds is not experiencing shame, then perhaps is he experiencing humiliation?  The response once again is no.  As with shame, male privilege acts as a bulletproof vest protecting the individual from any penetration or wounding of the psychological self.

Concluding Words

“Please explain why a black man would act in such a negative way? Why would he bring such embarrassment and humiliation upon his race and gender?”

Although male privilege is a major issue within the dominant majority, it can be devastating within ethnic minority communities responding to low self-concept, poor self-esteem, and negative identity.   The second question being asked shows the overwhelming strength and impact that male privilege has not only on the individual, but the community as well.

The question assumes that McDonalds’ actions are representative of black men as a race, group and gender.  In review of the article outlining the offending behaviors, there is no indication from Mr. McDonalds that he is speaking for his community, gender or group.

It is the individual and the community as a collective that grant Mr. McDonalds the authority to speak on their behalf.  As a result, Mr. McDonalds is feeling unworthy, defective and empty (in effect, shame).

When Mr. McDonalds states his intent is to support his daughters’ decision to continue prostituting, he appears to be quite pleased with himself, professing to “just love and support them.”  It is the community and black men as a group, not just Mr. McDonalds, who appear to have a deep wound with the psychological self.

Whether true or fraudulent, the article has served its purpose.  In showcasing male privilege, it shows the willingness of members of the group to react in shame and humiliation instead of developing a response that dismisses the lunacy the event is supporting.

As previously stated, male privilege is an issue within the dominant majority, however, the incident showcases their strength of self-concept, esteem and identity.  They never would allow the lunacy of one man to represent them.  Instead, such foolish behavior would have been simply dismissed as the stupidity of one individual.

If the article were true, I would encourage Mr. McDonalds to immediately seek family therapy and individual psychotherapy for himself.  So in conclusion as I seek to own my reaction and share my response; If the article is fraudulent, I would say “well-done” to the architect of this written piece and encourage him to seek individual psychotherapy to discuss the strong feelings of self hatred towards his gender and group.

Five R’s of Relief (Positive Outcome)

Our reactions to the choices we face can be immediate, causing us to miss the lessons in the challenge. These reactions, in fact, can place us in danger, or at significant risk of personal or financial loss.

A response is a plan that can empower us through calmness, calculation and the collection of our feelings, thoughts and our actions.

Until the next crossroads… the journey continues

 

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