22/10/2015

GNDR | the importance of speaking up against sexism




after sharing the classroom with 3 cis guys only for 2 years of my Retails studies, i found myself in a class where boys make up 1/3 of it. suddenly, as we were getting to work together more and more, i noticed a strange thing - there was a different atmosphere in the groups, usually consisting of 2 boys and 3 girls. somehow, i found it harder to prove that my ideas and inputs had some value, i felt like i needed to win the trust of the guys so that they'd believe me, i worked harder just to show that i was capable. when talking to some of my friends / schoolmates, i found out i wasn't the only one.

as you might have read on Instagram or Facebook, there is a project involving all the specialisations from my school going on at the moment. my course, Communication, is supposed to be the press covering the whole week of innovative projects. we got to choose our own groups and were allowed to pick any angle on the matter for our written outcomes. i teamed up with G and we started writing a series about the formerly addressed issue - different gender roles in groups, women in leadership and hidden, stereotypes-induced sexism. prior to that, i was actually part of another group, whose male-only members i actually pretty much chose myself, and when i presented this whole gender (in)equality idea, they literally just laughed at me. after that, i felt like anything i said was not really taken into consideration and somehow the whole concept of our project was the guys making the visuals (video, pictures) and me writing comments to that. thank you. that only made me even more interested into finding out about how other girls felt in mixed gender groups, so i just gave it a go.

this change was luckily supported by my supervising teacher; so i talked G into helping me with it and we started. we conducted an extensive research and analysed what has been written about gender roles at school / work so far, made a lot of (unanswered) phone calls, took pictures, ran around, wrote a lot of notes,... and even though i believe probably none, or very few of our classmates actually read our first article, we managed to make this issue visible. we could see that the guys from our class were still thinking of us as crazy radical feminists and were pretty much opposed to our conclusions; an interesting debate on gender roles, feminism, sexism and much more emerged among the girls at the same time. i know this sounds extremely cheesy but we could see that we made a statement; and that statement would have some impact.

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and that is important:
not being afraid to speak up.
giving voice to other people.
fighting against oppression - any oppression, not only sexism.

if you feel like there is something going on that should not be happening, something that is really morally wrong, speak up against it. make it visible. brave gestures bring empowerment.

of course, all that will bring up withdrawal, resentment and/or aggression. 
do not respond with the same treatment. (and that is something i should really work on)
present facts. share your own stories and experience. educate the people.

but most importantly, don't stay silent.

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