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Gender entitlement is the practice of enforcing one’s own assumptions, expectations, and judgments about another’s gender rather than getting to know how people of this gender perceive themselves. Transgender academic Julia Serano coined the term in her book “Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity” and expanded on it in a subsequent text, “Excluded.”
There are two key types of gender entitlement: male entitlement and female entitlement. The concept of male entitlement is a hot topic in the modern era. It stems from the idea that women are weaker than men and thus inferior. This perceived inferiority leads men to believe they are the more dominant sex, and as such should be served. This may translate into the idea that women should care for the man’s home and prepare his meals, but it may also manifest in more sinister ways. For example, if women are to serve men, they may be expected to satisfy their sexual appetites, whether they want to or not. If women are weaker, perhaps men are within their rights to act violently towards them when they fall out of line.
Female entitlement is spoken of less frequently, but it also exists. Women too often prescribe to the pervasive social attitude that men are stronger. This can make them feel entitled to protection, physically, emotionally, and financially. As men are more assertive and typically go into more high-powered fields, women may believe men should pay for their meals and other expenses when they go out. Entitled females may also underachieve academically or professionally because they do not pursue educational or professional opportunities, believing them to be the man's domain.
According to Serano, gender entitlement is at the heart of all sexism. This idea is supported by researchers who say entitled men typically hold hostile attitudes towards women while entitled women tend to believed men should take care of them, because they are incapable of doing so. While these attitudes arouse markedly different emotions, they both separate men and women rather than uniting them as equals.
Note that many people do not ascribe to these traditional views. However, this can still perpetuate sexism. Modern feminists, for example, feel entitled to equal representation in workplaces, equal pay, and more flexible working conditions. These entitlements are relatively new, but can also contribute to sexism by painting men as the oppressors standing in their way.
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