Social Justice Council

Dedicated to social justice at ASL

Laura Bates Visits ASL

Laura Bates, the founder of The Everyday Sexism Project and author of "The Everyday Sexism" book as well as a journalist who was featured on the BBC, visited ASL today.

She had spoken to the Gender Equality Group earlier this year. Encouraging them to keep combating sexism in their everyday lives and being more aware of what they were say. Do you insult other girls/women for patriarchally imposed ideologies? Do you recognise that  the media manipulates our perceptions of beauty? Do you cause people to stop and think about what they believe and are saying to others?

Then today, the 10th of March, she spoke to the middle school about gender stereotypes, the portrayal of women in the media, the objectification of the sexes. She asked them to question those double standards that we see in our daily lives. Why is someone saying you throw like a girl a bad thing? Why are some people encouraged to have many partners and others are shamed for it? Why do we only see a singular portrayal of women in the media? Why are emotions viewed as shameful for men? What does it actually mean to "man up"?

During conference time the High School had an assembly where Laura Bates spoke about gender stereotypes, sexual assault, rape, and the meaning of feminism.

She explained that the reason why feminism is called feminism rather than humanism is because 1) humanism is a different concept and 2) the "fem" in feminism acknowledges the historical oppression of women throughout time.

Feminism is simple the belief that all genders should have social, political, and economic equality.

And, in order to include all genders in the discussion of gender equality she explained that gender stereotypes hinder all genders. Men have restraints on how sensitive they are expected to behave and what subjects they are expected to study in or excel in, just like women. The argument that "boys will just be boys" makes little sense. It means that boys are born to exhibit an affinity for sports, sciences, and leadership roles, that minor sexist comments are just jokes, that they aren't perpetuations of sexist ideologies.

She talked about how rape cases should be taken more seriously. More than 1/4th of the UK believes that if someone is drinking they were in some way provoking sexual assault, that 1/3 of the UK believes that if you are flirting with someone "you are asking for it" so to speak.

It is up to us as a society to change those perceptions.

In the cases of sexual assault it is up to us to take a stand, to not turn away and act like what is happening to someone else is not our problem because it is our problem. Some people will say, "Imagine they were your sister, your mother, your cousin, your best friend." But, I would argue that they are a person. It doesn't matter if they are a man, a woman, or anything inbetween.

The fact that they are a person alone should constitutes our respect, and our willingness to step in when we see an injustice.

She also spoke about the topic of rape.

Just be be clear, all cases of rape are the fault of the rapist.

Many people would argue, "well what if they are falsely accused?" The percent for falsely accused rape cases are the same as those of other crimes. We wouldn't hear of a robbery and question if the person "stole from themselves" for tax purposes or insurance or something. And, as for the phrase above all cases of rape are the fault of the rapist because if someone lied, then the person wasn't raped and therefore the person wrongly accused isn't a rapist, so they don't apply to this phrase.

In the Middle School as well as in the High School, and in the rest of the world for that matter, the discussion about gender equality has been running rampid. Laura Bates, as a guest speaker has brought in new ideas and points of reference for this discussion not only in our community but the greater global community that we as individuals are associated with.

By the High School Gender Equality Group bringing in Laura Bates, it has allowed High Schools and Middle Schoolers to take this discussion further. Tomorrow High School representatives from the Gender Equality Group will be facilitating discussion in Middle School advisories around this topic of gender equality, gender stereotypes, safe relationships, okay and not okay teasing, and how to have the confidence to stand up for yourself.

This has been an invaluable experience for the entire school and we hope to have this conversation to continue further. We invite all community members to take part on our online Laura Bates Discussion Forum and if people are in school today to partake in a Gender Equality Group meeting during lunch. All are welcome!