Male privileges and respectful living | HMA

Male privileges and respectful living



Forty years ago, I started a journey. That journey was born out of the challenges at the time of appreciating the privilege that comes from being male.  It was during the time of the second wave of feminism; the rights of women to be treated as people, with autonomy over their bodies and their lives, to live free from violence, and to be paid the same as men.  

I quickly learn that the world is not a level playing field. Privilege is built on the efforts of others: indigenous people, women, minority groups, and the list goes on. That is not to say that all white men have the same levels of privilege. Many do not. Class plays a large role. I did not come from a hugely privileged background but I still benefited.  

As Peter Swain and myself wrote in our first book, A Private Affair: Stopping men’s violence towards women, “One man’s violence towards one woman, is a message to all women, and affects all men.” 

So rather than moaning about how unfair it was, that galvanised my efforts to make a difference. It got me to talk with other men about the ‘male story’. It got me sitting in groups with men working to disrupt violence against women as well as sexual violence. It got me working with others to form agencies taking on the challenge of creating pathways to a respectful life.   

I was therefore interested to read Max Rashbrooke’s excellent piece, ‘White men are being asked to be humble, not silent.’

When we feel anxious about losing power, this can trigger a reaction of wanting to grab it back.  Having worked with men who use violence, one of the triggers for abusive practice is the shift in power within the relationship. This is an old story that continues to be the basis of violence in its many forms. I thought forty years ago we could change the script. We have made many inroads which as white men we can be proud to have contributed. However, I am reminded yet again that any journey has setbacks. There a blocks in the way, twists and turns, and sometimes a move backwards. That doesn’t mean we stop the journey. We just need to keep going.  

Published on Wednesday, July 6th, 2022, under Uncategorised

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