Greetings from bustling Toronto where I’ll be joining the CYH team from afar. Many folks may have already seen the poster to the right but for those who haven’t, please take a closer read for it’s oh so true in this world that champions rigid gender roles. Its last line, “For every girl who takes a step toward her liberation there is a boy who finds the way to freedom a little easier,” touches on male privilege, something with which this excellent blog post concerns itself (warning: the first paragraph mentions acts of violence committed). And while on the subject, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that as a white male myself I am no doubt afforded a great deal of privilege. Do I deserve the benefits that privilege affords? Of course not.
Your friend and mine bell hooks in her essential book, ‘Feminism is for Everybody’ lays out her definition of Feminism which is “a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression.” To put aside a discussion on Feminism and instead focus on what the definition is saying, I think we can agree that standing together in efforts to “end sexism, sexist exploitation and oppression” is essential. As Black Coffee Poet (the post’s author), says “… small things lead to the big things. Ideas lead to actions…” And then further, it is through raising public awareness and engaging various communities and their members in myriad ways that we can take proactive steps toward changing the culture of violence (global, physical, sexual and otherwise) around which our society is structured.
As school begins and teachers and classmates (and if a student, yourself of course) start talking and discussing in class it’s important to be mindful of privilege, of where you’re coming from, and to be careful not to make assumptions whether that be about someone specifically or something they’re saying. And of course, as is wont to happen in discussion, conflicting views will come up. It’s natural that people will disagree with one another but with an equitable approach, the conversation and learning experience are enriched. Disagreement can certainly be used as tools for positive results: to deconstruct myths and prejudices in our society but also to demonstrate that not everyone approaches issues the same way. How the world can change, or at least the classroom one’s sitting in, if a moment is taken to be mindful, to listen, really listen, to what someone else is saying.