I’M REALLY GLAD I’m not Kim Kardashian.
Despite the fact that she’s loaded, takes private jets to exotic places, has a closet filled with designer clothes, and has a talented, if not a bit nutso, husband in Kanye West, I’m glad.
You know why I’m glad I’m not Kim Kardashian? Because she is the poster child for male entitlement.
What do I mean by that? I mean that if I were expected to tolerate just some of the stuff this woman must hear or read from people every day, I’d be sitting in a dark room somewhere eating my meals through a slot in the door. I’m sure that at least 50 percent of the reason why West looks like he’s about to kick someone’s behind most of the time is because of the comments his wife receives.
If I were expected to tolerate just some of the stuff [Kim Kardashian] must hear or read from people every day, I’d be sitting in a dark room somewhere eating my meals through a slot in the door. I’m sure that at least 50 percent of the reason why [Kanye] West looks like he’s about to kick someone’s behind most of the time is because of the comments his wife receives.
Here’s an example: I was on Facebook the other day and I saw a picture that one of my friends had posted of the new Mrs. West. She was dressed in a black tuxedo jacket with no shirt underneath, black leggings and her hair was a little larger than usual, implying that she had just finished, or was about to begin, a photo shoot.
The caption on the picture read: “Is this how you go to your daughter’s day care?!”
The comments got pretty vicious pretty quickly. Since this is a family blog, I’ll spare you the details.
But here’s what strikes me. I know that even if Kardashian said to these men, “Please stop talking about me that way!” she wouldn’t be heard. Why? Because they don’t feel they have to respect her. But if West said it, the possibility of getting into some weird sort of Mixed Martial Arts cage match with him might make folks rethink things.
Now I understand that to some Kim Kardashian might be an extreme example of how male privilege works, but it is what it is. Because of the way she tends to dress, how she’s conducted various aspects of her life, and the sex tape that someone leaked that brought her to our attention in the first place, there’s a perception that she would have no right to feel any kind of way about how men view her. “She’s a whore. I can do or say anything I want about or to her.” That’s how some men think.
The victims of male entitlement
But she’s not the only victim of that entitlement. Just ask the woman who’s just been called a bitch because she refused to give a guy her phone number. Or ask the woman that’s been treated like a whore because her skirt is seen as a little too short. Or better yet, let’s ask the woman who said no to a sexual advance from her study partner at college and now finds herself talking with her own, personal, Olivia Benson.
Or even better still, let’s ask the woman who spurned Elliot Rodger’s advances when she was a 10-year-old girl and has since been made to feel like she dodged a bullet when he couldn’t find her during his murderous rampage at the University of California Santa Barbara. Or let’s ask the women at the University of Washington who can breathe a sigh of relief now that the male student who believed Rodger was justified is in police custody.
We’re gonna talk about Male Entitlement, folks.
We’re gonna talk about how it’s not cool and how it’s killing women, sometimes literally.
I don’t care if you get mad at me afterward.
Now because this special brand of misogyny, and make no mistake, it is misogyny, crosses my path at least once a week, I decided to call this column “This Week In Male Entitlement.” I feel like there’s an extra special effort made to let women know that despite the fact that a woman came really close to the Nation’s Highest Office, you’d better know your place.
Sports and male entitlement
Nowhere is that more obvious than in the sports pages. So let’s start with some wisdom from boxer Floyd Mayweather. While this isn’t quite as low as his putting information about his former fiancée’s abortion on Instagram as a means of shaming her, it’s still interesting.
Last Sunday, Mayweather’s Twitter feed featured the following message: “How a female dresses is her advertisement,” the Tweet said. “If a female shows half of her body, she’s asking to be disrespected. If she dresses classy, expect to be treated like a lady. How you’re addressed lies on your attire. Sexy is a spirit, not an outfit.”
There are a lot of places I could start here. I could start with the grammar, which is pretty bad. Or I could start with the fact that this is allegedly coming from a guy who goes through scantily clad women like I go through fruit and chocolate trail mix. But the male entitlement reeking from the comment itself kind of demands I start there.
To an extent, Mayweather is right. Your attire is a part of how you present yourself to the world.
But it’s wrong to equivocating what I’m wearing with the amount of respect I deserve. The “club girl” could be an astrophysicist while the classy lady in the Chanel suit could have earned that suit by working in the World’s Oldest Profession.
Besides, Floyd, I’ve seen some of your getups. If we’re using outfits as a gauge, tell me why I should show you respect? Red, skinny jeans?! Really?!
Oh, I already know the answer to that one. Male entitlement. Let’s move on.
This was a special week because Mayweather wasn’t even the worst offender. That honor goes to conservative columnist George Will and the administration of Bob Jones University.
The Department of Education released a report that said sexual assault on college campuses had gone up 49 percent between 2008 and 2012, which is pretty significant. President Barack Obama demanded that something be done about what is being considered a “crisis” in this area.
Conservatives and male entitlement
A crisis to everyone but Will, that is. Will believes that the report gives women a status that they don’t deserve. In his syndicated Washington Post column, Will uses the example of a student from Swarthmore College as his bête noire.
The student had charged a fellow student with rape. She had been intimate with him before, but had decided to put him in a place where men don’t like to go: the “friend” zone.”
Bob Jones University, the Holy Grail of every Republican hoping to be President, believes that women who have been raped on their campus shouldn’t look for justice or even an apology.They should look for the “root sin” that led to them being raped, and repent for it. Root sin? Really?Wow. Again.
In Will’s mind, the woman’s charge of rape was no more than buyer’s remorse.
“Six weeks later, the woman reported that she had been raped,” Will said in his column. “Now the Obama administration is riding to the rescue of “sexual assault” victims. It vows to excavate equities from the ambiguities of the hookup culture, this cocktail of hormones, alcohol and the faux sophistication of today’s prolonged adolescence of especially privileged young adults.”
But not even Will could top the insensitivity of the administrators at Bob Jones University.
The University, the Holy Grail of every Republican hoping to be President of the United States, believes that women who have been raped on their campus shouldn’t look for justice or even an apology.
They should look for the “root sin” that led to them being raped, and repent for it.
Because these women didn’t feel quite guilty enough about what happened to them, right? Okay…
Surviving sexual assault
As someone who has survived a sexual assault with her sense of humor, and a whole lot of snark, intact, let me give all of you menfolk a piece of advice that I’ll put as simply as possible because for some of you, simple is the only thing that works.
No means no.
It’s no in sign language. It’s no in Spanish. It’s no in French. In German it’s nie! and in Russian it’s nyet!, But the meaning doesn’t change.
No is not a starting point for sexual negotiations.
No is not a “maybe” in disguise.
No is not something said to start the pursuit.
No is not an invitation for you to start groping and pawing in the hope that you’ll get her to change her mind.
No means no. And if you have any respect for her, you won’t make a woman repeat herself on that point.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been having sex with this woman for 20 years, or if she’s a prostitute, or if she’s standing naked in front of you, if she says no, that’s it. Stop. Walk away. Save yourself the arrest record. Or in my case, especially since I kick like former Philadelphia Eagles placekicker David Akers, save yourself the pain of having the steel toe of a black and white Doc Maarten brogue put somewhere you really don’t want.
Because you as a man have no right to a woman’s body. You just don’t.
Seriously. I’m so not kidding. If you get nothing else from this column, get that.
And this, too: You don’t have the right to kill a woman for not going out with you.
Earlier, I referenced the Isla Verde, Calif., killing spree of Elliot Rodger, a story that shows why I decided to write this in the first place.
Male entitlement can be hazardous to women’s health. It can even cost us our lives.
Rodger was a dude who felt that if he couldn’t have a young, pretty blond girlfriend to have lots and lots of sex with, someone had to feel the wrath.
“You girls have never been attracted to me,” he said. “I don’t know why you girls aren’t attracted to me. But I will punish you all for it. It is an injustice, a crime.”
A lot of men found themselves reading a Twitter hashtag that sprung up after the Rodger shootings called #YesAllWomen. Women using this hashtag described the daily indignities such as catcalls, having your issues minimized, and the feeling of having your opinions and needs ignored as a result of male privilege.
Their responses fell into one of three categories:
* Men with daughters who were so saddened to see this stuff that they started whipping their sons into shape right away around these issues, and paid a little more attention to the men the women in their lives interacted with.
* Men who saw Rodger as a guy that might not have done this if he had used their methods for picking up women…no, I’m not kidding…
* Men who thought that the shootings would make women be nicer to them, kinda like how Americans were nicer to each other after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
But let’s keep it real. While Rodger is an example of the most extreme case, if I had a nickel for every “good guy” who said that a woman’s decision to date someone else was some sort of crime against nature, I’d be writing this column from my villa in Como, Italy after lunch with my new neighbor, George Clooney.
If I had included the number of these “good guys” who have stuck me in the “friend zone” or my personal favorite, the “friends with benefits zone,” I’d have moved to Como at least a year earlier…with Idris Elba as a roomie…
(Don’t even get me started on the male entitlement that the whole “friends with benefits” thing implies. That’s a graduate thesis.)
Two, I’d rather buy shoes.
But when men feel that they’re entitled to something, logical thought like this doesn’t usually enter into the equation.
Women die as a result.
So before I get hit with another Week In Male Entitlement, it might be time for us to have a serious conversation about what you’re entitled to, what you’re not, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Click here to read Solomon Jones’s response, “Kim Kardashian and how men think.”
Featured Photo © 2014 CanstockPhoto
Denise Clay is a journalist and adjunct professor. She is active in the National Association of Black Journalists and the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists.