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“You’re not like other men”
The connotations for this phrase are terrifying for two reasons; firstly, not harassing women or making them feel uncomfortable and understanding their basic rights as human beings as a male shouldn’t be the exception, it should be the norm. Secondly, hearing this phrase fills one with a sense of guilt.
I feel this way because my words, my basic decency, come from a sense of entitlement. As a Pakistani, male feminist, I expect to be praised for my actions, to be told that I am “not like other men” when really, I am exactly like other men. I benefit from the same kind of privilege that “other men” benefit from and take advantage of.
The fact that I know I benefit from privilege, but refuse to pinpoint exactly how; reveals the issue itself. If I were to ask the average female about privilege, I’d be given a full, unabridged account of my hypocrisy.
That is what I cannot bring myself to do. I fear to leave this bubble of mine, one where I am “not like other men”. One cannot even call it the fear of the unknown for one very simple reason; some part of me knows the truth of my privilege. Some part of me recognizes that my self-label as a “feminist” is window-dressing for the fact that I, being an upper-middle class Pakistani male, benefit from the patriarchy. I benefit from my male privilege just as much as the average man who takes issue with heating his own food in a microwave (a truly Herculean task).
I fear to leave my comfortable shell because I like to be patted on the back. I like to see myself as the wonderful, white knight savior of women who “understands them” and their suffering in a conservative, third-world society. In effect, I love being told I am “not like other men” when I am exactly like them.
All hail hypocrisy.