I am a 17-year-old white, upper middle class, Jewish boy living in the Bronx. I am part of a defined group of people when it comes to my race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and geographic location. Because of that, I have a set perspective of everything that I see and interact with.
Over the course of my entire high school experience, I have developed a better understanding of what perspective really means. What I have found is that everything, EVERYTHING, is all a matter of perspective.
Appreciating science the way I do, I will demonstrate this first with a collection of statistics. According to an EFA Global Monitoring Report from 2012, an estimated 66 million girls are out of school globally. If you spent every single day of your entire life counting each of the girls who are not in school right now (one girl per second) you would spend 22 years counting! Now look back to the beginning of this paragraph and re-read the 66 million part. The way you see that number is different isn’t it? What I have learned about perspective is that once you see a different side of something, like a number, you can never not see it again.
This different viewing of perspective has allowed me to experience my time in my feminism class in an entirely new way that I have never known before. During our International Day of the Girl assembly that we had at school I introduced our event. My job was to introduce the reason that we were up on stage speaking to our fellow classmates about intersectionality.
If it wasn’t on anyone else’s mind it was definitely on mine, “There is a boy introducing the feminism class.”
It’s amazingly ironic, but at the same time it’s actually just perfect. We need more boys and men learning about what feminism really means and what their role in feminism is. The way to do that is by changing their perspective of what they view as feminism.
In her TEDx talk titled “We should all be feminists” and her experience in becoming a feminist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says:
This is how we start; we must raise our daughters differently, we must also raise our sons differently. We do a great disservice to boys in how we raise them. We stifle the humanity of boys. We define masculinity in a very narrow way. Masculinity becomes this hard small cage, and we put boys inside the cage. We teach boys to be afraid of fear, we teach boys to be afraid of weakness, of vulnerability. we teach them to mask their true selves because they have to be HARD MAN!
When I first saw this video I had a set perspective. I had the perspective of a white, Jewish, upper middle class BOY. I have only known this perspective my entire life and everything I had learned prior to this was what I believed to be true. Then a person like Adichie comes along and changes my perspective.
Remember the statistic earlier in this post and try to imagine how you felt after your perspective changed. That is what I’ve been feeling for weeks. My perspective is still of that of a boy, but now I have a different idea in my mind of what that really means. Adichie says that we need to raise our sons to demonstrate the change in the world we wish to see. Now each day I think about all the girls who are not being educated and all the girls who are harassed, raped, or sold into trafficking. Instead of just viewing these issues from the perspective of a boy, I now view these issues from a perspective of a boy who is ready to make a change.