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Thompson: Male entitlement is still entitlement

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

Male entitlement is an abuse of power, plain and simple. These attitudes stem from the feeling that women owe men something. We’re all indoctrinated into thinking this sort of behavior is normal, even ideal.

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There are countless romantic comedies where the guy gets the girl because they’re persistent in the name of love. 

Consider the ’80s flick “Say Anything.” John Cusack’s character gets dumped and immediately starts pestering his ex with calls until he can’t take it anymore and shows up at her house with a boombox over his head. 

You can tell this movie was written and directed by men because despite exhibiting the behavior of a stalker, he still gets the girl. That’s what men are told they’re supposed to do. I’m here to tell you we don’t want it to be like that.

What kind of love isn’t reciprocal? These pop culture references are certainly part of the problem, and that behavior should not be romanticized. If they say they aren’t interested, you should stop trying.

You should practice being more comfortable asking those sorts of questions. Maybe they really don’t want to talk to you. So what? Move on.” 

This past weekend, I was at my favorite coffee shop grinding away on assignments. I was sitting at the bar when a man sat down next to me. It was a busy day, so I didn’t think much of it. I didn’t acknowledge him, as I had headphones in and didn’t want to welcome any conversation while I was working.

After about 10 minutes, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I was cracking my knuckles at the time, and I grew up in a very particular environment where that sort of thing was frowned on, so I took my headphone out, ready to apologize for the unsavory noise and get back to work.

First things first, if you want a stranger’s attention, you should not try to get it by putting your hands on them. Regardless of your intentions, that’s a violation of personal space. It might be triggering for some people. Find a different way to get their attention if you must.

To my surprise, he asked me what I was working on. My first thought was that it’s none of his business, but I panicked and told him it was school work. 

Clearly this man thought what he had to say to me was important enough that he decided he should not only put his hands on me, but he should also interrupt my work. Regardless of whether he was doing it consciously or not, this is an example of male entitlement.

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I don’t have anything against a good conversation with a nice stranger. I can only say that based on my life experiences, I knew where this coffee shop interaction was headed. I know this man wanted something from me because right before I decided it was time to leave, he asked if we could be friends, and when I said no, he followed up by asking if we could make plans to hang out. 

He thought we were “getting along just fine.” I didn’t think so. Nothing about this interaction would, in my opinion, be characterized as innocent or good-natured.

My interaction, along with many other women’s experiences from SheRatesDogs on Twitter, shows how male entitlement is still active in our social and dating lives. 

Modern dating culture has certainly empowered women. However, there are still sects of men who decided that this means they’ve been simultaneously disempowered. In some circumstances, this leads them to become, or at the very least admire, murderers such as Elliot Rodger who perpetrated the 2014 Isla Vista killings, identifying as an “incel.”

The Elliot Rodgers of the world are few and far between, but it does speak to the commonality of men among us “who use romance or business or sexual liberation or comedy or art to buttress their entitlement,” according to Cord Jefferson of the Guardian.

You don’t have to be a fully-fledged incel to benefit from male entitlement. Sure, the actions of the man I met at the coffee shop are considered socially acceptable, but they still convey the belief that women should tolerate unwanted advances.

Male entitlement makes it difficult to want to ask women if they’re comfortable with the interaction taking place. In my experience, straight, cis-gendered men have a hard time confronting things that could lead to a potential rejection, despite these being appropriate mechanisms to dismantling the system of their own entitlement.

You should practice being more comfortable asking those sorts of questions. Maybe they really don’t want to talk to you. So what? Move on. 

If you identify as a man, take time to reflect on how you benefit from being a man and how it informs your actions. Acknowledge the space you take up in all facets: physically, emotionally and verbally. Then put the work in to make a difference.

Madison Thompson can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @heyymadison.

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