IDG From The Eyes of a B

Today marks the first International Day of the Girl (IDG). Thursday was chosen because of its memorable date 10/11/12. I like the idea that it seems to emphasize the idea of counting, a skill learned through education and that is what this day stresses. IDG is about educating girls worldwide so that they can be given all the same opportunities as boys and men.

This is a problem in the U.S. and in developing countries; there are various levels of discrimination in society towards women in regards to education and more. As a whole, women make up fifty one percent of the world. Why would we decide to discriminate against the majority?

This is a question organizations such as 10x10, Girlafesto, and Pratham ask. They specifically want “to speak against gender bias and advocate for girls’ rights everywhere.” Education is an area where they want to break down this oppression. International Day of the Girl also combats issues such as sex trafficking and injustices of gender bias.

Theoretically, if we were to educate all the women in the world from an economic stand point, that would create more jobs in fields that required a high level of education and these jobs often pay more. In turn, wouldn’t the global economy flourish from the education of girls worldwide?

These ideas were all starting to form in my head before it was even October. From the start of this high school course on feminism, we were engaged in these ideas of equality for women as we looked at stories from girls in other countries and had speakers come in. We looked at what it means to be a girl through readings by Cherríe Moraga, such as “A Long Line of Venidas” and “La Güerra.” We also learned about the gender stereotypes and expectations of being a girl in the U.S. through the lens of our female classmates.

It was appalling and heart-wrenching to hear the common motifs repeated in the stories that were also echoed in the writing from writers such as Moraga and bell hooks. The messages they received from their family, community, peers, society, or ethnicity about being a girl reflected this idea of silence.

My classmate Josey wrote that sexism in our culture prohibits women to “talk about anything controversial” and are taught that opinions should be kept to themselves. Other girls said things like “don’t be a rebel,” and shared that there was an expected moral and even dress code for girls. They can’t dress or do certain things because it might make them look like a “slut” or “skank.” In other words they have to go through life with their voices limited and unheard and have their personality masked to fit the standard and to avoid controversy.

This was something I had dreamed about changing long before I had heard of International Day of the Girl. In fact, when asked why I had signed up for the class I said that I joined because sexism in America is said to be dead and I knew it wasn’t and I wanted to find a way to truly purge it from society.

In the past I thought, I’m just a boy. What do I know? How could I possibly help?

Me giving statistics about education during the IDG assembly

This is something I want to answer during this course. If I can find a way to relate, I figure it will help solidify my desire to help as well as give me a more specific route to take then what the vague term “activism” implies.

In this course, I’ve been introduced to the theory of intersectionality. From writers like Lisa Weiner-Mahfuz and Audre Lorde I learned that “there is no hierarchy of oppressions” as Lorde writes in one of her pieces. Lisa Weiner-Mahfuz experienced privilege as she told her own story of being mixed culturally and racially due to being born Arab and Jewish. She herself faced oppression from her own family who dejected her Arab half and she was oppressed as a woman. She writes about how her light skin allowed her to pass as a white woman, and it also gave her privileges that weren’t given to people who weren’t her skin tone.

Audre Lorde along with bell hooks show there isn’t just one level of oppression and argue that no oppression is truly better than the other. To start her essay, African-American feminist Lorde says, “Within the lesbian community I am Black and within the Black community I am a lesbian. Any attack against Black people is a lesbian and gay issue … because I and thousands of other Black women are part of the lesbian community.”

She explains that because she is a black lesbian any black issue is now an issue for lesbians and any lesbian issue is now an issue for black women. This example demonstrates the idea of intersectionality; in other words intersectionality is based off of race, class, gender, sexuality, age, ethnicity/race, national origin, religion, etc. Intersectionality has helped me to feel connected to IDG and has empowered me to help.

With this new knowledge, I want to spread it to the school to let them know everyone can and should celebrate IDG and raise awareness of equality for girls.

Me giving an explanation of Intersectionality. Photo credits Laura Hahn

That was what I took away from the assembly that we led, and I feel it served its purpose well. Everyone managed to get this point across of why this is so important. I think videos like the Girl Effect video and the 10×10 Educate Girls Make a Change video helped do this as well.

I was able to find my importance on this matter and was empowered to make a change despite not having a direct connection through gender and then pass on the drive to make a change to my high school peers.

12 thoughts on “IDG From The Eyes of a B

  1. I like how you went back to Josey’s piece here:
    My classmate Josey wrote that sexism in our culture prohibits women to “talk about anything controversial” and are taught that opinions should be kept to themselves. Other girls said things like “don’t be a rebel,” and shared that there was an expected moral and even dress code for girls. They can’t dress or do certain things because it might make them look like a “slut” or “skank.” In other words they have to go through life with their voices limited and unheard and have their personality masked to fit the standard and to avoid controversy.

    This is definitely a large aspect of the way that oppression perpetuates itself. We are stuck in this cycle of prohibition. The rules and regulations for our every move as girls and boys on the earth, trying to keep up.
    I also liked how you went on the connect to Cherrie Moraga and the way she wrote about gender.

  2. I also agree with the what you said about Josey’s piece. If by society norm girls/women can’t speak up about anything controversial, we are stuck in the same position that would be impossible to escape from. It takes a voice to make a change.

  3. First off I want to say WOW! That was not only inspiring but it was very moving to hear a man talk about there personal effects on the feminism movement. I also liked how you referenced me and the other girls in the class, it was nice to have a tie back to the class.

    On a separate note, you did a great job on talking about your effects already in our own community at LREI.

    “I was able to find my importance on this matter and was empowered to make a change despite not having a direct connection through gender and then pass on the drive to make a change to my high school peers.”

    You couldn’t of ended your piece in a better way.

  4. I highly appreciate the motivation you put on this piece and the dedication you have to attempt to make a change for girls everywhere! I agree with everything you said, such as being taught that sexism is dead, but we both know it’s not. And why are we discriminating the 51% (the majority)? I also agree with how you think giving education to all the girls in the world will not only help themselves, but the entire world and its economy. Lastly, I agree with how you stated that you’re a boy and that there must be something you can do to make a change. I’m a boy and I know there must be a role for me in this global revolution. This was nicely written, keep it up!

  5. I loved your commentary on the male perspective of the issues that girls face in India as well as the sexism still prevalent in the American society today. I thought the line “I wanted to find a way to truly purge it from society” was especially powerful because it truly portrayed the heart-wrenching pain that you felt for girls who had “to go through life with their voices limited and unheard and have their personality masked to fit the standard and to avoid controversy.” I feel it is amazing that you, as a male, have the passion to reform the expectations and view imposed upon women and that you have taken the initiative to take the feminism class in the first place. This was very well written, good job!

  6. “In the past I thought, I’m just a boy. What do I know? How could I possibly help?
    This is something I want to answer during this course. If I can find a way to relate, I figure it will help solidify my desire to help as well as give me a more specific route to take then what the vague term “activism” implies.” I love that you are a boy who seems interested in and committed to helping girls and women! I got the sense from your piece that you have already learned much about women’s rights, and are ready and excited to be a part of the change!

  7. I really liked the way that you set up the introduction to you post, you asserted the main issue (various discriminations towards women), and you asked the reader a question based on a fact (women make up 50% of the world; why would we discriminate against the majority?). It laid out your main points in a clear and concise manner.

    I thought it was great that you mention some of the excerpts we read and the speakers that came to our class. It shows that you have knowledge about the experiences of women around the world, and women within our own country. It is important that Americans know that women are also oppressed in the United States, for many people assume that oppression of women is something that only happens in other countries.

    Talking about the ways that your female classmates feel oppressed was an important and interesting subject to touch on. It displays that, although we do not face the same oppressions as many women around the globe, oppression leaves all who experience it “with their voices limited and unheard” and forces them to “have their personality masked to fit the standard”.

    You posed some excellent questions for yourself, and I’m interested in seeing how your posts progress and how you come to find the answers to your questions.

    The way you touched on intersectionality, and then ended the post with “I was able to find my importance on this matter and was empowered to make a change despite not having a direct connection through gender” was brilliant. It shows how intersectionality has helped you find the ways that you are connected to the fight against women’s oppressions.

  8. “In the past I thought, I’m just a boy. What do I know? How could I possibly help?” I remember feeling the exact same way, feeling like just because I am a guy that there was no way I could contribute to all of these female issues. I have gone through a similar process of first being intrigued by activism and then as we read more, getting more involved with the actual issues of education and trafficking. It is amazing how by just by presenting short pieces, a lot of felt how powerful it is to be sharing our information to as large an audience as possible.

  9. I do think you could have made it a little more personal, the ending to me seems like the strongest part because if finally tells us how you feel about IDG and how you felt during the assembly. To me this is especially true because of how interesting of a prospective you have by being male in a feminism course. Something I did love in your piece was how you gave yourself a focus, something you want to achieve by the end of this feminism course “I joined [the course] because sexism in America is said to be dead and I knew it wasn’t and I wanted to find a way to truly purge it from society… In the past I thought, I’m just a boy. What do I know? How could I possibly help?” I also think that you are able in this piece to partially answer those questions by mentioning that, “With this new knowledge, [you] want to spread it to the school to let them know everyone can and should celebrate IDG” You are helping, making a change and an impact by raising awareness about girls’ issues. Even if this is just the beginning I believe we have made a great first step.

  10. Very relateable piece. I feel that we came into the course together looking to answers to similar questions. Questions like, “In the past I thought, I’m just a boy. What do I know? How could I possibly help?” it is going to be interesting to see how we are able to formulate answers to these questions throughout the course. I look forward to comparing and discussing our different views and maybe where they are not so different in the upcoming weeks.

  11. I am so proud of your contribution to IDG this year. Your post here definitely demonstrates how seriously you have taken this course and how committed you are to being an ally to the issues we have raised. I’m particularly impressed with your lines that read, “Theoretically, if we were to educate all the women in the world from an economic stand point, that would create more jobs in fields that required a high level of education and these jobs often pay more. In turn, wouldn’t the global economy flourish from the education of girls worldwide?” This is an argument that feminists have made for a very long time. The fact that you understand this idea within just a few weeks of being in the course shows that you understand just how important feminist goals are on a political and economic level. I’m also very inspired by your stance on being a male ally in the movement. I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts!

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