VAW Social Change Resource Center

Decorative blue marble rectangle at top of page.

Tactics of Oppression and Challenging Privilege


All those who struggle against oppression must try to

discover the underlying causes of that oppression and

to separate these causes from the more superficial

symptoms. Jaggar,1983, p. 232



      Violence against women is found in cultures that make sure that some people hold power over others.  These cultures have lots of ways to justify why it’s all right to violate and oppress groups.  Social change requires that we expose the nature and character of oppression(s).  We want to understand how oppression is ingrained in our institutions, culture, and personal lives.

We encourage understanding of oppression

what it is and how it works!


      When we understand the ways we are oppressed, we also can understand how we are privileged and how we benefit from the suffering of others.


Jaggar, A.M. (1983).  Feminist politics and human nature. 

Totowa, NJ: Rowman & Allenheld.

Interconnections of Oppressions

Activist Writings



             Native American feminism, sovereignty, and social change

Andrea Smith work focuses on the intersections of state, colonial, and gender violence. 

Excerpt, 2005  (scroll down)


The Connection between Homophobia and Violence Against Women

Suzanne Pharr links control, disempowerment, and inequality from a movement perspective

in this AEGIS article, pp. 35-37, 1986 (41).


Educational Tools/Handouts


What the public should know


             LGBT Communities and Domestic Violence: Information and Resources

Extensive manual from the National Resource Center includes articles, statistics, programs

and resources for domestic violence practitioners. Mary Allen, 2007

Use of Language/Vocabulary, pp. 12-14

The Intersection of Sexism and Homophobia pp. 17-21

Dynamics of Domestic Violence, pp. 24-28


Favorite readings


Black Feminist Thought in the Matrix of Domination

Patricia Hill-Collins classic connecting oppressions in a matrix from which Black women

emerge as agents of knowledge.  Must read for academics!  Excerpt from Black Feminist

Thought, pp. 221-238, 1990.



             INCITE! Website

                          Powerful resource:  toolkit, articles, Speaker’s Bureau.

                          Colors of Violence

Andrea Smith challenge to develop analysis and organizing strategies that  recognize relationships of race and gender.  2000


Mapping the Margins

Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color.  Must read for

academics!  Kimberle Crenshaw excerpt, 1991.  (scroll down)

For Those with Privilege

Activist Writings


Educational Tools/Handouts


                Climbing the White Escalator

                                Betsy Leondar-Wright uses a personal story to demonstrate the invisibility of privilege.  2004


What the public should know


             Robert Jensen website

Very accessible and powerful challenges for anyone with privilege.

The fears of white people.  2005

The new White People's Burden: Take a hard look in the mirror.  2005

The reality of race: Is the problem that white people don't know or don't care? 2007

We are the results of what we want and what society allows us.  2005

White Privilege Shapes the U.S.

                                       1998, found at Students and Teachers Against Racism (STAR).


             White Privilege:  Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack

50 ways whites hold unearned privilege that they use daily even though it is invisible to them.

Classic by Peggy McIntosh, 1990.  On this same web page is The Male Privilege Checklist by

B. Deutsch imitating McIntosh’s article. n.d. 


Favorite readings


             Class Matters Website

Full of brief readings on class for group leaders and the public. Articulate, honest, insightful!

                          Dilemmas of Community Organizers

                                It's not "them" - it's us!

Betsy Leondar-Wright explores how the professional middle class fail to see their class


Invisible Walls:  What keeps working-class people out of coalitions

             The Top 10 Mistakes of Middle-Class Activists in Mixed- Class Groups


Without Bureaucracy, Beyond Inclusion:  Re-centering Feminism

Andrea Smith defines a model of radical women of color organizing to eliminate oppression

“based on heteropatriarchy, white supremacy, capitalism and colonialism”.   2006

Training Materials



             Interconnectedness of Oppressions Chart

Education exercise to demonstrate interconnections of power and control tactics among

oppressed groups.  From In Our Best Interests: Radical Education for Women, DAIP,

Ellen Pence.


             SCRAP: Students Challenging Racism and (White) Privilege

                          Training materials include Checklist for Racism, "That's-Just-The-Way-It-Is"-Ism poster.


Resources for Organizing


Skill Building Tools


             The Benefits of Being Male Exercise

Exercise for individuals and groups to raise awareness of male privilege.  Paul Kivel, n.d.


             The Benefits of Being White Exercise

Exercise for individuals and groups to raise awareness of white privilege.  Paul Kivel, n.d.


             The Class-Race Exercise

Exercise engages individuals and group in understanding impact of race on our everyday lives. 

Paul Kivel adapted from Martin Cano, n.d.


             Tools for White Guys Who are Working for Social Change

                                15 questions those with privilege can use to challenge themselves.




             The Power Chart Revisited

Paul Kivel challenges the chart as binary and depoliticizing when systems change requires

strategies of resistance, alliance, and struggle. 2002

Social Change Resource Center © 2007,  Afterwords, Inc.



Introduction to Social Change

Reflections on Social Change

  Cultural Supports

  Oppression & Privilege

  Questions of Research


Strategies for Action

  Activist Writings



Domestic Violence


  Power & Control Tools