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Penn Badgley Talked About Male Privilege On Television, Why This Is Important

In an interview with Stephen Colbert, Penn Badgley spoke about the existence of male privilige and why it’s not okay. Penn Badgley is known for his acting roles in Gossip Girl, Easy A and most recently, the extremely popular Netflix series called You. Penn plays the character Joe, who seems to be just a normal bookstore manager in New York City. However, he is really a creepy stalker with obsessive compulsions. Despite having such a dark side, there is no denying that Joe is a handsome, white man. In the interview, Stephen Colbert asks Badgley, “Do you have anything to say to the people out there who say they want to date Joe despite the minor flaw of murdering people?”

Penn jokingly starts off by telling people to slide into his DM’s, but he goes on to say: “It is not a clinical portrait of a serial killer. It says something about how much we are willing to be patient and forgive someone who has a body like mine – the color of my skin, gender and privileges – and how much less we are willing to forgive people who do not fit those boxes.”

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Javier Reyes on Unsplash

Penn explains the privileges he has as a handsome, white male, which explains why people are so obsessed with the character of Joe despite the fact that he murders people. The fact that he is a white male allows him to get away with certain things, and people are much more forgiving towards him because of what he looks like. This interview made Penn Badgley so much more attractive to me because he recognized his male privilege on television.

Male privilege is a real thing. Men are able to do so many things that women receive criticism for. This is also known as a double standard. For example, if a man were to be in charge, he is often praised for having leadership abilities. But if a woman is in the same posiiton, she may be considered bossy. If a man has a lot of female friends, he is usually seen as popular. But a girl with a lot of guy friends is seen as a flirt. If a girl does not wear makeup or does not “dress well,” she may be seen as not feminine, but if she wears a lot of makeup and wears nice clothes, she may be seen as a slut. Women often receive criticism for everything they do. 

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Pexels / Alina Vilchenko

There are also things that men do not realize that women cannot do, due to a society that makes women feel unsafe. Women cannot run in the park alone at night for fear of being kidnapped, while that is not much of a concern for men. Why should we have to worry about these things? Why doesn’t the government do something to protect women?

Male privilege is definitely real. These are only a few examples to show that men enjoy certain social, economic and political rights that are unavailable to women. Men are less likely to be interrupted when they speak. Men are able to take up more physical space. Men are not automatically assumed to not know what they are talking about. Fathers get praised so highly for simple parental duties, but mothers are expected to be doing those things already. Men are less likely to experience harassment, but lots of women experience sexual harassment on a daily basis. These are just a few.

Men need to be educated on the privilege that they have and learn to create spaces that allow women to feel safe.

Lauren is a fourth-year Psychology major with a minor in Asian Languages at UCLA from Studio City, California. In addition to writing as a feature writer for Her Campus at UCLA, she loves reading for leisure, playing with her dogs, and watching The Office.
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