Man vs. Oppression

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About Kyle Ashlee

Kyle Ashlee is a writer, activist, and educator living in New England. He works toward social justice by focusing on issues related to class, race, and gender. For more information visit Ashlee Consulting and follow Kyle on Twitter: @KyleLeeCarp.


  1. Beautiful writing and encouragement to keep up the fight!

  2. John Schtoll says:

    “First and most relevant to this forum, I am a man. I needn’t go into detail about glass ceilings, equal pay, or rampant sexual assault to explain that the world is a much easier place for me to exist because of this.”

    Equal Pay: Just how many times does this have to be debunked before people like the OP get it. MEN don’t get paid more for the same work than women do.

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    Glass ceilings:

    Rampant sexual assault, yes, very nice cherry picking there. Now look up NON Sexual assault, murder , suicide etc. You have it great as a man.

  3. John Schtoll says:

    “I’m heterosexual,middle-class, able-bodied, American born, and highly educated. Indeed, with privileges like these, it’s understandable to think I might not have any reason to fight at all”

    Two of those so called privileges were actually earned, Middle Class, either YOU or your parents earned that status thru work and earnings. Highly educated, again, this is earned thru hard work.

    I hate it when people are made to feel guilty for something they have earned thru hard work of either THEM or their parents. When you become a father you will do everything you can to ensure your children have every oppurtunity that is possible, including but not limited to being middle class (or above) as well as being highly educated.

  4. When I see the phrase ‘male privilege’ my brain shut down, just like if I see the word ‘nazi’ or ‘communist’ in political writing.
    I understand there IS sexism, rascism, homophoboia, classism, etc. I’m not blind, and I have actively worked on justice issues. Pro-choice clinic defender, Americorp volunteer working on hunger and literacy issues. I could list more, but does anyone really care?
    Nevertheless, when I see the phrase ‘male privilege,’ I read it this way:
    “All the problems of the world are due to men…only they have it good. They have no feelings, never suffer, and have never experienced any pain..only they have it good. Anything trauma men go through is irrelevent, only they have it good. Any thoughts they they may have on gender and justice are irrelevant, only they have it good.”
    2 semesters of feminist studies classes in college and hours of conversations taught me this.
    When I see feminists post or make statement like the following, “Men can’t be feminists, only allies.”, my reaction is fine, I’ll take my marbles and and play elsewhere. I guess feminists can’t be sexist.
    There is plenty of suffering to go around, and the world needs folks who care about healing, fairness, healing, and reconciliation. Truly, I’m more than happy to work with both women AND men on sexist issues, as long as (an egalitarian) we are working on those issues for both genders.

    • Falling off soapbox…
      Corrected sentence: “There is plenty of suffering to go around, and the world needs folks who care about healing, fairness, and reconciliation.”

  5. Hank Vandeburgh says:

    Hi Kyle, Let me start with one of your quotes. “My fight is looking in the mirror and coming to terms with the fact that I benefit from a social structure that actively contributes to the pain and suffering of others. I strive to reconcile who I am and how I walk through life with the reality of unearned power and unfair treatment that I receive at the expense of others.”

    I realize that what you describe might be descriptively true. But it’s a bad way for white males to conceive of themselves for a couple of reasons. First, the concept of “privilege” is an analytical non-starter. My reason for saying this is that there is actually an infinite number of possible privilege positions in the world (about 7 Billion factorial, if you want to be accurate.) Yes, I realize that they cluster around genders, races, nations, and so on depending on differing concrete circumstances. I won’t go into it much, but as a person who grew up in a working class melieu, and didn’t really become middle class until I was about 37, I realize that I had it worse than some, and better than others. I do think that race in the US can be a huge differential, much more than gender, where the tendency still is for middle and upper class women and men to be symbiotes to a great extent.

    People like me generally had to do military service, went to non-elite colleges and so on. It took me ten years post military to get even a BA degree. But I did have it better than many.

    This brings me to my second point (the main one.) I think the privilege discourse is fairly politically dysfunctional. The reason is that it’s a spitter by its nature. And, almost diabolically (as conservatives might wish it) it serves well, if generally embraced, to split men (who also are generally disenfranchized aside from a few elite men) off from anyone else who is likely to want social change.

    What I think should happen is that people should try to form a national farmer labor party. The democrats basically walked away from most Americans in the 1970s. The Dems are a party of intellectual elites, who’d prefer not to mix it up with average people, unless they happen to be lecturing them on racism or sexism. (Note the lack of social class here.) Many of us will vote Dem, but we don’t do it with any great enthusiasm– Clinton for example continued to support globalization which sold the average American down the river. This is why the tea party exists– people don’t like the condescension, and figure Dems aren’t going to do much for them.

    So, I think the culturalist approaches of the current left (race and gender only) are wrong. We need to start with something that starts to reinvigorate America in an economic sense. Raising tariffs might help there, and help us reinternalize our own working class again.

    I see the cultural parts of this movement as needing to go through something like a telophase. In other words, the racism and sexism we don’t want would start to be corrected with help when we start to remove the material bases for economic competition between the races and sexes

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