Male Privilege: Recreated


Highlights from NCCASA’s Primary Prevention Summit and a look at the workshop that offered a different perspective

Last Thursday and Friday our Gender Violence Prevention team had the opportunity to attend the first ever North Carolina Sexual Assault Primary Prevention Summit right here in Durham! Many other campuses were in attendance including UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC-Wilmington, Wake Forest, and North Carolina Central University. I really enjoyed collaborating with other groups to further our knowledge and skills in a movement that we are all connected to.

Workshops ranged in topics from collegiate programming to men’s engagement to gaining public support for primary prevention efforts. Our very own intern, Ian Harwood, presented about how to develop a more comprehensive approach to gender violence prevention and decision-making on college campuses. Overall, the sessions throughout the weekend really left me inspired; however, one stopped me in my tracks! The session discussed the recreation of male privilege in our work towards gender justice, specifically related to sexual violence and intimate partner violence.

We are so busy combating privilege externally that we often don’t stop to consider its reproduction when it comes to our internal work. Kris Macomber researched this notion of the glass escalator within our “Men against Violence” movement for her dissertation and I found it very enlightening.  Just for kicks, here are just a few privileges we are up against that men in our SV/IPV work enjoy:

  • I can simply show up to an event, or wear a ribbon, and people think favorably of me.
  • If I am co-presenting with a woman, people will assume that I am the expert.
  • I can have very little experience but still be pushed towards visible leadership roles.
  • I will likely be paid more than my female and transgendered colleagues who have the same or more experience.

I know! Crazy, right?!? Don’t be too alarmed, this cyclical nature of privilege creeping into equity efforts happens across all types of work to eliminate the –isms (racism, heterosexism, ageism, classism, etc.). Luckily I didn’t leave the session too distraught because we were given an opportunity to redefine the notion of accountability and to create a structure we could take back to our organizations and agencies to check the privilege at the door and continue focusing on progressive change. For example, we can ensure that our policies clearly state that men and women will be paid for equal work, i.e. speaking at conferences, and have to meet the same criteria for promotions.


Macomber, K. & Sniffen, C. (2011). Male Privilege in Anti-Violence Movement. The Voice: The Journal of the Battered Women’s Movement, p. 65.