Are you worried about what your daughter shares on social media?
This week I had three Year 9 boys looking at porn on their phone during class. Not the type of porn where the women had consented.
No. This was through a website which shares photos of high school girls. These images have not been voluntarily given. They have been found on computers, taken while girls are in showers etc., or given willingly by girls to their friends or boyfriends for personal use – not realising they would end up all over the net. Some girls’ faces are even photo-shopped on to other images.
That’s because “hunting” and then obtaining an image of a certain girl is seen as a “win”. Wins can then be traded between the men on the site.
It’s happening in schools all over Australia, and the police say they are powerless to take down the site.
There were no consequences given to the boys looking at this site during class. The attitude seemed to be that boys will be boys, and that the problem lies with the creators of the site.
No, the problem is that there are no strong male voices telling these boys that this is not OK.
The male staff member who dealt with the boys after the incident had previously expressed the opinion that I wasn’t a suitable person for a particular role because I’m a female. He didn’t say this directly to me, he said it to the other male in the room – as if I wasn’t there. I didn’t have much confidence in how he would respond to the porn incident.
I recently had a conversation with a group of white Year 12 boys who will tell you that sexism is no longer an issue and the pay gap is a myth. I’ve previously had conversations with them about the invisibility of privilege. That there’s no way they can know what it’s like to be treated “like a woman” in our society unless you are a woman, or unless you’re willing to listen.
“Privilege is invisible to those who have it.” Michael Kimmel
Michael Kimmel’s a pretty amazing man – he recognises that as a white man he experiences a privileged position in our society, and he works to get other men to realise this. It has more impact coming from a man – and he realises this too.
So what can we do as women? Are we willing to listen? One of the Year 12 boys had said, “why should men miss out on jobs, just because society’s changing and giving more opportunities to women?” They are scared that if women get more opportunities – they will get less. That if they admit they have privilege in our society, this diminishes their achievements.
I’m not interested in diminishing them. I understand that boys and men face challenges in their lives and also contribute greatly to society.
It’s about recognition. It’s about saying – what’s going on isn’t OK. It’s not about coming in and fixing things. It’s about listening. It’s about shedding the cloak of invisibility. Listening. Acknowledgement. That’s what I want from men.
We need to stop accepting that this exploitation and devaluing of women is OK. We need to stop believing that women only have worth as objects of sexual gratification. We need to address all “4 Is of Oppression”.
Ideological oppression – the idea that one group is superior and has the right to control the other group e.g. obtaining and sharing nude images WITHOUT CONSENT.
Institutional oppression –this ideology is embedded in our institutions e.g. women get paid on average two thirds the amount men do and only one quarter of our politicians and media voices are women.
Interpersonal oppression – the way individual women are treated e.g. sexual abuse, ignoring, minimising women’s voices, sexist jokes etc.
Internalised oppression – women come to internalize the negative messages about themselves e.g. playing dumb, not valuing themselves as anything more than objects of sexual gratification, making sexist jokes towards other women, putting down other women who speak up.
“Each oppressed group has to undo the internalised beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours that stem from the oppression so that they can build unity and power among people in that group, support its leaders, feel proud of its contributions and develop strength and organise.”
The Anxious to Awesome online mentoring program is designed for teenage girls… it empowers them to know their intrinsic worth… it teaches them to dream big and to shift any beliefs that say “I’m not enough”…
The Anxious to Awesome program recognises your worth as a woman and mother… let’s build power and unity among us… let yourself be supported...