Becoming a Feminist and Male Ally

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Jaron, Emilio, and I acted out a skit on bystander intervention at our annual International Day of the Girl assembly. (photo credit: Lexie Clinton)

One of the first assignments for my high school feminism class was to watch Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TEDx talk on feminism and gender, “We should all be feminists.” This talk placed a new lens on my thoughts on feminism. I immediately disregarded all of my previous thoughts about how feminism was about hating men and women taking over the world.

How could I have been so ignorant?  Why had I previously associated feminism with such terrible stereotypes?

I guess I’d have to put the media and being uneducated about feminism to blame for my thoughts.

After we watched Adichie’s talk, we read Julian Long’s Washington Post piece, “Black men’s excuses for Ray Rice sound a lot like the ones Darren Wilson’s supporters used” and listened to an NPR segment titled “Ray Rice Video Sets Off Barrage of Conversations.”

These readings and media pieces really opened my eyes on how domestic violence is a very prominent issue in America today. It really troubled me that people were sticking up for Ray Rice. How could people be asking questions like, “What did she do to provoke him?” Is our country so messed up that this is the first thought that comes to our mind in a case like this?

It’s really sad to see that many Americans tried to stick up or justify all that Ray Rice did to his wife. I read an article by Fox News titled, “Why Can’t We Forgive Ray Rice?” and was completely upset. It really angers and saddens me that people think we should forgive Ray Rice.

Why should we forgive people who beat on their wives? I do agree with their point about the other domestic violence perpetrators that we have forgiven. We should not have easily forgiven them. We should not have forgiven them at all for their actions towards women.

It upsets me that as a male in today’s society, I’m always going to be categorized as one of these horrible men. This is why I’m a male ally. I want to make sure that it’s not the norm that men can beat up their wives. I want to change the way we view women as lesser humans, especially in this democracy where we fight for “equal” rights.

Breakthrough visitors interacting with our high school feminism class. Breakthrough works to end gender-based violence. (photo credit: Lexie Clinton)
Breakthrough visitors interacting with our high school feminism class. Breakthrough works to end gender-based violence. (photo credit: Lexie Clinton)

 

Our class had visitors from Breakthrough, an organization that advocates for global human rights and fights against gender-based violence. They introduced to us to a campaign they had started called Be That Guy. They showed us the following video that has to do with being a man that advocates for the rights of women.

This campaign calls out all men to “be that guy” who stands up for women. I really connected with this campaign because I find myself doing things like this in my friend groups. I catch my friends calling girls “sluts,” “thots,” “whores,” etc. I try to stop them from using these words and to stop talking about women in such a derogatory way. If I can make an impact in my friend group, then I’ll fell like I’ve accomplished something. But that’s only just the beginning to fixing this major issue.

For our school’s annual International Day of the Girl assembly, my classmates and I acted out a skit focused on bystander intervention (pictured above). The skit was based off of our viewing of SLUT: The Play. We wanted to write a monologue for a character in the play, Tim, who does not intervene when his male friends rape their female friend. We wrote the monologue because Tim does not have a voice in the play and we wanted to hear his thoughts. We performed the monologue as a skit during our assembly as a way to voice our support for bystander intervention. Being a bystander is never ok. If you are being a bystander, then you might as well be the perpetrator. Being silent doesn’t help anybody, but only makes things worse. It’s important to step up and be an upstander.

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