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Illustration of Male Privilege Over Female

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Victor and Jack Stanton in Those Who Knew and Primary Colors respectively, illustrate the privilege that comes with their gender, proving how marginalized women have become in the political process and their own lives.

Victor is a polished man who is entrenched in hypocrisy. A man born into a prominent political family, Victor is isolated from the standards of society and the repercussions of ill acts towards women. He grew up with a verbally abusive father who passes down his views to his son; his father repeats, “You want to be a man right?” throughout the course of Victor’s childhood. (Novey 48). Although his family is partially responsible for influencing Victor’s ideas of gender, society is also to blame for never scrutinizing Victor’s abuse towards women, including killing a young woman. His brother’s play about Victor’s life, aptly named Scenes from the Pruning of a Future Presidential Candidate states, “Whatever happens, the senator should remain impervious” (Novey 151). A lack of consequences emboldens politicians like Victor, where his continued popularity allowed him to psychologically minimize his crimes and believe he deserved to get away with whatever wrongdoing to remain in power.

Even after his downfall, Victor believed he was entitled to a prime position in his society, as “he’d rise again to where he belonged” (Novey 223). This self-inflated view of Victor’s worth further demonstrates how a man’s lack of accountability institutionalizes toxic masculinity, through propagating the political cycle of contrived progressivism.

Victor goes through women very quickly, showing no remorse for killing a young staffer named Maria P; “A week after a bus ran over a certain student activist on Trinity Hill, a prominent senator by the name of Victor turned to the woman beside him in bed and made an offer” (Novey 9). He rationalizes his actions by creating a role for women that is unimportant within his own mind. In turn, society too, creates a larger role for men rather than being inclusive of women. Victor’s brother’s play, Scenes from the Pruning of a Future Presidential Candidate, introduces the idea of patriarchal loyalty, “Even when there’s nothing left, Victor said, you can’t let go of your brother” (Novey 134). The brotherhood within a male-controlled society always supplants women, whether sisters, wives or daughters. Men in such a brotherhood are the ones who enable predators like Victor to stay in power and keep the patriarchal forces in power.

Politicians like Victor champion progressive social reform, while privately practicing vicious sexism, thus giving credence to idea that politicians are hypocrites. The play’s allegory writes, “Tell him Socrates, tell my brother how much that proverb came to haunt you. I bet you were quietly horrified at your private capacity for hypocrisy, weren’t you?” (Novey 150). Socrates’ Allegory of the Cave states that the prisoner does not want to progress in his understanding of reality. However, after his eyes adjust to the light, he is forced to progress out of the cave and into the sunlight. This is a painful process for the reluctantly prisoner. The book uses this same allegory to metaphorize men reaching a different state of understanding of women’s issues in society.

Jack Stanton, the expert politician and main character in Primary Colors, also illustrates the sheer privilege that come with being a man in power. Jack’s campaign staff enables his misconduct with women, never letting him take responsibility for his extramarital affairs and dubious interactions with women on the campaign trail. As such, he develops a God complex from taking advantage of women in his political prime; “So he figured he was God. He figured that Cashmere McLeod would be so fucking honored, so fucking thrilled, so breathless at the prospect of sucking the governor’s dick, that she would ever betray the secret” (Klein 119).

He uses his moral capital with voters to in turn commit an act considered immoral: seducing and harassing women while married. When his aide Henry brings up this duplicity Jack creates between his personal and political life with voters, Jack “made it clear, through the slightest of winces, a raised hand, a turn away – something – that this was an invasion of his innocence, a squall line threating his uncloudy day” (Klein 14). Jack invokes innocence as his political excuse for his transgressions with women, and uses this to justify his behavior in his own mind. We see Jack Stanton’s politics complicate his character narrative, as he creates the façade of social-liberalism to further his political brand.

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