Why white male privilege is problematic

Illustration by Benjamin Buckley

It’s no secret that white male privilege is problematic. But what exactly is privilege? What does it mean to be a white male? And why is all of this so problematic? While many authors would answer these questions with a buzzword-filled thinkpiece devoid of content, I would like to get to the bottom of white male privilege and explain why it’s so problematic in our society.

We’ve all seen it, in our classrooms, in advertising, and in social media. The privilege possessed by white males is problematic. Some males (usually white males) claim that their privilege doesn’t exist, or that it’s not problematic. To them, I say: just look around you. It is clear that white males are in a privileged position, and I, for one, think that that is problematic.

As a male, I know that I am privileged. And as a white person, I know that I am even more privileged. So it is problematic to me that, as a white male, I have more privilege than someone who is neither white nor male. This is why it is so important that I, and all white males, work hard to recognize how privileged we are.

It would be problematic for me to claim that white males are bad people for having privilege. This isn’t what I’m saying at all. There is a problematic misconception among white males that privilege is something to feel guilty about, which isn’t always the case. There is nothing inherently problematic about being white or male; nobody chooses to be white or male, and thus nobody is allowed to choose their privilege. However, white males, like myself, still benefit from having privilege, and that is where things become problematic.

When white males deny their own privilege, it is problematic for society. It is problematic for our schools; it is problematic for our workplaces; it is problematic for every individual who cares about how privilege affects them and their loved ones, including white males themselves. That is why it is necessary for every male, white or otherwise, to educate themselves about the nature of privilege and how problematic it is.

We, as a society, need to come together and have a conversation about white male privilege and what we can do about it. Even if we can’t get rid of the influence of white male privilege entirely, perhaps we can at least find ways to make it less problematic.