Tonight was Organizational Communication class, and the topic was the attaining and exercise of power. Part of our homework was to read the paper “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” [PDF] by Peggy McIntosh. (It’s an excellent article, and you should go read it.) One of our exercises in class was a group discussion on what privileges various groups — men, women, wives, husbands, parents, sons, daughters — have.

The first thing I said in our small-group discussion was, “I can like figure skating without having people assume I’m gay.” Which is true. Figure skating is totally safe for women to watch or participate in without it casting any homo-aspersions on their character, regardless of the amount of sequins. But a guy who wants to wear said sequins and twirl about on ice is pretty much just assumed to be, as they say, light in the loafers.

(Incidentally, what the hell does “light in the loafers” come from, anyways? Gay men have teeny dainty feet as they flounce down the street? Here, let me introduce you to my friends, at Bear Pride. There will be very little flouncing.)

Much of the other suggestions in class were along the lines of — “As a white man, I’m privileged that I can go walking around in Englewood and people assume I’m a cop and don’t mess with me.” (That particular student is, in fact, a CFD fireman.) There was a brief digression about whether or not it’s “privilege” for women to have doors held open or be allowed to board elevators before men, with one female student vehemently disagreeing, saying that it’s not privilege so much as it is etiquette. (Really? It’s not a privilege to have an entire section of the proper-behavior standards written, and actually enforced by the subservient class (as a man in class emphasized his negative opinions of men who do not let women go first, and as I have seen men lecture other men about at work), just because we have a particular set of chromosomes? What on earth is privilege, then?) Then there were the obligatory gags, like, “I’m privileged that my wife allows me to sleep with her!” (That from a dapper gentleman who works in theatre, who is likely more qualified than I am to speak as to what irrelevant qualities make people assume men are gay.)

By the time the whole-class discussion rolled around I’d refined the figure-skating line a little. I said, “as a woman, I can wear makeup or not wear makeup, dress up or not dress up, and whichever way I roll does not automatically make me gay or not gay.” I mean, really. It’s a privilege men don’t have. Show me a man who wears product in his hair and I’ll show you a “metrosexual,” which is a term invented just to identify grooming with homosexuality. I can go around in steel-toed boots and it makes me a goth; I can work on cars and that makes me either cool or sexy depending on who’s asking; I can work in a male-dominated industry and that just means I’m smart ‘cos I can keep up with the menfolk. But put a guy with nice hair in ice skates and sequins, and watch the instant transformation to someone that Deadspin is going to have to create an entire section about people euphemizing his gayness. (Bad example, perhaps — yeah, yeah, I know, it’s Johnny Weir, and hell yes I watched this and loved it! — but, really, people. Quit being little bitches about queers on ice.)

As I was walking home after class, I was extending and polishing the argument a little more. Basically it boils down to: Women can do non-traditionally-feminine things with little likelihood of it affecting their perceived sexuality or status. Men who do non-traditionally-masculine things have their Friend of Dorothy Club membership card handed to them after, like, the second offense.

So here I was getting all wrapped up in my excess of privilege as a woman, and feeling guilty about my own transgressions along these lines, when a car pulls out of a parking lot and a sketchy older guy in an eyepatch, in the passenger seat, leans out his window and shouts to a couple of cute young college girls walking a few steps ahead of me, “Hey girl! Come here and sit on my lap!”

They snickered (“ha ha, look at the drunk moron!”) and walked on, and he kept hollering, “Come here, girl!”

Meanwhile, a cute young college guy also walking down the street laughed his head off and chortled encouragement to Eyepatch as the car pulled out onto State Street.

Thus endeth my feeling guilty about the unfair privileges I enjoy as a woman.

Score: Gay men: 0, “girls”: 0, drunk shitheads: 1.