Now that we’ve explained the not-so-basic concept of privilege, it’s time for us to delve into specific kinds of privilege. Today, we’re talking about one of the most pervasive types of privilege that impacts everything from how much money a person makes to their safety as they move through life: male privilege.
As with other types of privilege, male privilege means that men belong to a dominant social group that has greater privilege over other groups. Examples of male privilege can be seen in every facet of life, from government (Congress is 80% male) to industry (95.6% of Fortune 500 CEOs are male) to Hollywood (100% of top movie studio executives and 96% of TV studio executives are men). Because male privilege places men at the top of our society’s hierarchy, men tend to consistently achieve and succeed at the expense of every other gender.
Male privilege can be seen in every aspect of life, from social norms to relationships to safety to health care and the media. Men are less likely to physically injured or killed by a partner and are less likely to be raped. Men are typically not shamed for having sex, or judged for the way that they dress. Men face less pressure to look a certain way. Movies, books and television shows with strong male characters dominate the box office, and are usually considered to be mainstream. Men are usually paid for more for their work. School dress codes typically do not focus on controlling what male students can wear. In most religions, men make up the majority of faith leaders.
Of course, male privilege does not benefit every man in the same way. Straight white men will tend to have more privilege than gay white men, and white men will have more privilege than men of color. Intersectionality matters here, as not all men will experience male privilege in the same way. For many men, it can be harmful, as accessing male privilege often requires men to conform to harmful gender norms, like being strong, not showing feelings, and not participating in traditionally “female” occupations or activities.
Over the coming months, we will be exploring how male privilege impacts all of our lives — particularly when it comes to gender violence. We will take a look at different aspects of male privilege, and how it contributes to things like domestic violence, sexual assault, harassment, stalking, homophobia and more. If you would like to contribute to this project, let us know!
Blackburn Center: Privilege Project