Recently, I witnessed a passionate debate on a friend’s Facebook newsfeed (where most passion lies these days). There was a discussion about gender equality that lead to a rant from a middle aged white male. He spoke about his experience with gender inequality and described women getting scholarships over men and obtaining more opportunities than men because of reverse discrimination.
Of course, this lead to some lively debate.
However, when I stepped back and looked at his perception, I realized that he just didn’t know that privilege is about more than money or opportunity. Its about the journey there. The #metoo and #timesup movement have been significant but it is about more than that.
A few years back, the #blacklivesmatter hashtag emerged. I must admit, as a white Canadian I had no idea these issues existed. I have never feared for my safety around a police officer – to me, that made no sense. I was ignorant. I still am ignorant. I will never fully understand because I will never feel that fear.
Similarly, white men will never understand their privilege but perhaps we can educate how it has nothing to do with money. Below are some examples of what I see as Male Privilege and I encourage you to think of examples in your life.
Every day, Male privilege is:
1. Never growing up wondering why the rules are different for your brother
2. Never having to walk home late at night or through a parkade with your key clenched between your knuckle
3. Being able to meet new people wherever you want – never having to worry if its “public enough”
4. Having fun and being labelled a “player”, not a “slut”
5. Not having to purchase (and pay tax on) hygiene products every month. Not to mention walking to the office washroom with a tampon up you sleeve as to not cause discomfort colleagues of the opposite gender.
In the Workplace, Male privilege is:
1. Knowing that you were hired/promoted for your skill, personality, at worst maybe who you know, not what you look like (except maybe the modeling/entertainment industry)
2. Always having a voice at the table
3. Being paid more than your colleague for the same work
4. Not being required to wear painful shoes, revealing clothes, and expensive makeup/accessories in a minimum wage job.
5. Never having to worry about what will happen if you say “No”
The list could go on and on but these are my top 10. If you have more be sure to add them the comments on this post!
Sarah Mullins is the founder of uptreeHR, a Halifax-based human resource consulting firm that is passionate about helping business leaders manage their people and improve performance.
To book a complimentary 30-minute consult with Sarah, click here.