68 Signs of Male Privilege within Spiritual/Religious Community, or, 68 Signs of the Sacred Ill That Has No Name

by

Amira Anne Glickman

  1. You have regularly experienced people standing up when you or someone of your gender walks into the room out of extreme deference.
  2. You rarely (if ever) have read about, met, or heard mention of the highest titled member of your spiritual or religious order being someone who was not a member of your gender.
  3. You are unaware of the cultural taboo that applies to people not of your gender if they risk speaking about their desire to advance within the teaching ranks of the leadership.
  4. The gender of the people you are addressing at any given spiritual or religious gathering are almost entirely NOT of your gender.
  5. God is reflected back to you as your gender 99.9% of the time.
  6. You have heard people say something like, “I think I speak for us all when I say, we all hope to be (insert your name here) when we grow up.”
  7. You have never read a spiritual or religious book written by a person of your gender that is almost entirely made up of the spoken and written wisdom of someone not of your gender.
  8. Your gender is the subject, to the exclusion of all other genders, of 99.9% of every canonical text.
  9. Your gender, to the exclusion of all other genders, is the subject of 99.9% of every parable.
  10. You are not sure what “all other genders” means as you operate under the belief that there are only males and females.
  11. You are unfamiliar with the widely used cultural terms WOC, POC and QPOC.
  12. You have an uncomplicated reverence for simplistic stories of female archetypes. You do not feel like they a token of your gender or an impossible exemplar of sacred womanhood.
  13. When male supremacy is brought up in reference to spiritual or religious teachings you have said, “You have to understand, this person was from another time.”
  14. Your closet lacks the presence of embroidered shawls from India.
  15. You have a hard time understanding or believing that there is even a “thing” like male privilege.
  16. Wisdom generated by members of your gender is 99.9% spoken, contemplated and venerated within gatherings and rituals.
  17. When racism, sexism, male privilege and institutional power dynamics are mentioned you believe this is “getting away from” learning about the “central” aspects of the spiritual path.
  18. There is an 80–100% chance that someone of your gender will be taking up 80–100% of the authoritative airtime at any given spiritual or religious event. You are mostly unaware of this fact.
  19. You have never been inappropriately touched or sexually harassed by people outside of your gender identity.
  20. You have never listened to a friend tell you of being inappropriately touched or sexually harassed by members of your religious community outside of your gender identity.
  21. You have not been at a spiritual event knowing that a person in a leadership position has been sexually inappropriate with a fellow student and remains in power.
  22. You have never told a superior within your religious community about sexual misconduct.
  23. If you have spoken of sexual misconduct, you have never had a superior reply something to the effect of, “Did that happen to you? Well, in some respects I would rather not know.”
  24. The ethics committees of your community (if you have one) protects perpetrators more than victims of sexual misconduct.
  25. You are able to be unfaithful to your spouse and family (either as a single incident or for years at a time) without any negative reflection of your personal character or spiritual integrity.
  26. You do not find it inappropriate that infidelity is a trait of many new teachers or people in positions of power within your community. And again, there are no negative repercussions to their spiritual integrity.
  27. You have never attended a racial awareness workshop like “Undoing Racism.”
  28. You cannot remember the last time (if ever) that you came early to set up chairs, arrange flowers, light candles before a spiritual meeting/group.
  29. You cannot remember the last time (if ever) that you voluntarily stayed behind to sweep or clean the space after a spiritual gathering.
  30. You rarely (if ever) send group emails to arrange for the organizational details of a spiritual gathering.
  31. You rarely (if ever) have been responsible for the financial accountings of a spiritual gathering or group (taken checks, PayPal, doing bookkeeping, etc.)
  32. You rarely (if ever) create the flyers or do social media networking for spiritual gatherings or events.
  33. Water, flowers and/or candles are routinely presented by people not of your gender to where you are sitting.
  34. There have been more senior teachers/speakers/guest lectures of your gender than any other gender.
  35. Within the sacred texts, God is invoked as a member of your gender, to the exclusion of all other genders.
  36. You have called people not of your gender who bring up male privilege and its attending behaviors and norms “attacking” or “angry.”
  37. You have led groups that are having a debate as to whether or not anger from people not of your gender is an appropriate emotion within a spiritual context.
  38. You are rarely (if ever) labeled “angry” for speaking passionately.
  39. You are vehemently defended by people of your gender when your disproportionate power is challenged.
  40. You are vehemently defended by people not of your gender when your disproportionate power is challenged.
  41. Your tolerance for your actions or words being perceived negatively or challenged in regard to the power held by your gender is extremely low.
  42. You are largely (if not totally) unaware of your body language during gatherings; legs splayed wide, slouching, taking up more physical space than others in the room, etc.
  43. You routinely fall asleep or close your eyes at religious or spiritual gatherings when members not of your gender are voicing inner work.
  44. You do not call out people of your gender when they are sleeping or closing their eyes while others are voicing inner work.
  45. You have gotten feedback from people not of your gender that your speech takes up a disproportionate amount of time than others while in groups.
  46. The origins of your spiritual/or religious group is narrated as coming through the gender that you identify with.
  47. 90% of the images of sacred people are of your gender.
  48. Within the sacred texts, God is invoked as a member of your gender, to the exclusion of all other genders.
  49. You are unaware that there is a sacred subjectivity outside one being relational (and often times subordinate to yours). All other gender identities are in subordinate relationship to yours.
  50. You rarely (if ever) have experienced members outside of your gender identity being selected for positions of esteemed power over yours.
  51. You unaware that your gender is the central subjectivity represented in your group.
  52. More often than not, people of your gender decide who will be chosen for elevated status of teacher/assistant and who will not.
  53. You have spoken authoritatively about the birth experience even though you, nor anyone in your gender, has ever given birth.
  54. You believe that male privilege is a discreet and separate “thing” that should not be confused with or tolerated as being central to the spiritual path. To you, it is an extracurricular side subject similar to zoology.
  55. You can post on a leaders’ listserv, “Robert E. Lee is an exemplar of sacred chivalry,” and not have repercussions to your status as a leader.
  56. You are unfamiliar with the term “mansplaining” and are assumed to have authority about whatever subject you may be speaking about spiritual or otherwise.
  57. You are unfamiliar with the term ”manteruption” and have not consciously been interested in looking at the frequency with which you insert your voice in over someone else who is not of your gender.
  58. You have a tendency to address the most powerful person of your gender when you are speaking within a gathering and rarely address or have awareness of the other people present during your proclamations.
  59. You have been a part of religious gatherings on Mother’s Day and never felt the sting that the person leading the gathering lacks an awareness of the role of women within the spiritual path.
  60. When the names of the lineage are read you do not feel you are witnessing oral evidence of how the history, accomplishments and dignity of your gender is actively erased.
  61. You do not know, understand or use the term “intersectional feminism,” or the standard concepts underpinning social justice movements of our time.
  62. You have never heard of, nor are you sure of, what “cisgendered” means.
  63. You have little to no personal experience with anyone transgendered. You have never led a group and asked people what pronouns they prefer.
  64. The elders and leadership within the community unconsciously perpetuate the visibility, advancement and supremacy of your gender subjectivity to the exclusion of all other genders.
  65. You believe the mere presence of people not of your gender in positions of power means that there is no inequity in the community, and no system of unearned power wielded by your gender in specific.
  66. You have not done any personal inventory of the ways in which your identity as a member of your gender impacts yourself or others.
  67. You feel one, some or all of the following emotions at this moment: disinterest, anger, denial, boredom or even intellectual or devotional superiority.
  68. Your attention span for this topic almost did not allow you to get to end of this list.

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student + teacher of mystism, social justice activist, mother, writer + resource sharer. @sacredreststop

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Amira Anne Glickman

Amira Anne Glickman

student + teacher of mystism, social justice activist, mother, writer + resource sharer. @sacredreststop

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