A man’s entitlement plays a significant role in domestic abuse. Perpetrators consider their abusive behaviour to be not only acceptable, but they also believe that it’s justified and that it’s their right and privilege to behave in this way.
When these men treat the people that they claim to love as less than equal and deserving of harm and punishment, it’s because they feel entitled to do so. This entitlement is usually exclusive to their intimate relationships. They believe that it is their right to have power over all who live in the home, while power outside of the home is to be negotiated. Perpetrators are not usually abusive towards their bosses, colleagues or friends. They understand that their behaviour in the home would not be accepted anywhere else if they want to be successful in life.
Deep down, an abuser feels powerless and out of control. Instilling fear into those closest to him is a way for him to have power and control in one aspect of his life and it is a way for him to continually test and prove that power.
Examples of Male Entitlement
This is a short list of some of the ways an abuser might behave in an attempt to gain power and control:
- Behaving like the master of the house
- Treating women and/or children like servants who exist only to meet his demands
- Believing that he is superior to and is better and smarter than women and children
- He has a strong need to be right and to win
- Claiming ownership and exclusive control of communal or joint items – e.g. “my kids, my house, my bank account, my TV and/or the remote control”
Male Entitlement in the Workplace
Women are very much aware of male privilege but men usually take it for granted and don't see it. The following are just a few examples of the privilege that men enjoy as a given in the workplace:
- A person’s male privilege is reflected the second he wonders why people are still talking about gender
- Male privilege means never having your intelligence or qualifications questioned because of your gender
- If you apply for a new role or a promotion, you can be sure that your gender won’t be an issue
- If you perform the same task as a woman, chances are people will think you did a better job even if the outcomes were the same
- You are more likely to be trusted with responsibilities, even if you are new to the role
- When you attend meetings, you can be emotional or assertive without being thought of in a negative light
- You can be confident that the language used in workplace communications will clearly include you
Male Entitlement in Romantic Relationships
The very nature of entitlement means that the entitled person believes they can overstep any boundary at any time to get what they want. The following are some examples of how the entitled person crosses these boundaries in an intimate relationship.
- Being in a relationship does not entitle a person to have sex. Sex is never guaranteed. It is something to be negotiated, and agreed upon by both participants.
- Being in a relationship does not entitle you to treat others with disrespect. There is no behaviour or action that is deserving of contempt or scorn. It’s okay to be upset, disappointed or angry and it’s fine to express these emotions in a healthy way. No one has the right to mock, demean or dismiss another person no matter what their behaviour or actions may have been.
- No one is ever entitled to use physical force against another person. You must never strike, push, restrain or interfere with another person’s physical freedom. You must respect your partner and your family and their physical space at all times.
- Being in a relationship does not entitle you to manipulate others emotionally. It is never okay to use someone’s fears and vulnerabilities to cause hurt or to meet your needs. If you need someone to help you with something, be open and honest and ask for their support using kindness and respect.
- Being in a relationship does not entitle you to ignore your own issues, illnesses and disorders. The ones who are closest to you do not have to accept your harmful behaviour and dangerous patterns as inevitable.
The whole of society is designed to support, encourage and nurture male privilege and entitlement. Overstepping boundaries and failing to consider those who are not male have become so ingrained in us that it seems to be the natural order of things, with no consideration of the damage that this is causing. There’s a saying that privilege is blind. It takes a tremendous amount of hard work to see where you operate from a position of privilege, to interrogate that and to try and change your behaviour- it’s a new way of seeing the world that doesn’t come easily. But, if you choose to do the work, the rewards are immense.