Many men are taught from a young age that they have an inherent right to power. It is where the ‘boys must be strong and aggressive’ narrative stems from. On the other hand, girls are taught to be gentle and compliant. This is not because of just one family or culture but it is everywhere, from the movies you watch to the books you read, all that which feeds into your subconscious. So, ever wonder how damaging this male entitle can be?
This constant need to find and keep power often plays an essential role in the abuse. If you dig deeper into the mind of an abuser, you will find that they consider their behaviour acceptable and justified.
Because of this feeling of male entitlement, some men believe that treating their partner as less than equal is their right. If you think this is a far-fetched statement, think about how these abusers do not abuse their bosses or colleagues but only their partners? It is much easier to control and hurt the person whom you consider to be less powerful and prove your power.
Even when we take a look around us, you will see it clearly. A very small example from my personal experience is when a Rickshaw-puller yelled at me when he was the one taking a wrong turn. How is that male entitlement you ask? There was a boy next to him who was at fault but the Rickshaw-puller felt entitled to yell only at me and let that boy pass. It angered me so much and made me wonder about the bigger impacts of male entitlement.
Treating women as lesser beings
Insisting on respect
Thinking men can make better decisions
Dismissing other’s opinions
Claiming ownership of joint items like saying ‘my kids’ or ‘my house’
Expecting women to behave a ‘certain way’
Expecting sex from their partner as a duty
It might take some time for a few to recognize these examples as forms of male entitlement as most of them are considered to be legitimate forms of masculinity in society.
Everyone can challenge male entitlement and not just men. Similarly, it is equally important to challenge the ways it infiltrates interpersonal relationships. As a man, you need to stop reinforcing the foundations of a culture that gives men the power and privilege above another gender.
It is time to become conscious and start actively participating in things that challenge this entitlement. To begin with, be quiet and listen! This way, you can actually learn from other people, especially women, about their experiences.
Next, please please please start acknowledging the amount of space (physical, verbal and economic) you are taking up in this world. Similarly, think about whether you’ve been in any way complicit as a man to other men’s abusive behaviour towards women.
When you get the answers to these questions, it will automatically help you limit the amount of space you’re taking up. It will also be helpful to not interrupt anyone as they speak and simply listen to what they have to say without censoring them.
Finally, challenge oppressive behaviour whether at home or your workplace. Only when we all take responsibility is that we stop colluding with disrespectful behaviour and hopefully bring an end to male entitlement.