“Speak Up, Speak Out. Hold Your Uni to Account!”
Words by Juliet Lochrin
THE WRITER’S TWO CENTS (PART TWO):
Education is not a product. Students are not customers. Teachers are not robots. Schools are not factories. Even from a business point of view, fear slows productivity and hinders creativity, so it’s in everybody’s interests to improve this neglected cultural mindset.
The major points of counter-argument surrounding the seemingly ‘taboo’ issue of victim-blaming and sexual harassment/assault appear to arise in conjunction with another social issue: societal expectations engendering a toxic and/or fragile masculinity. Y’all heard of this “big dick energy”? If you have faith in the idea of equality and the implications of this concept in the context of gender and societal behavioural expectations and normalities, then your manhood is not ‘at risk’. When you support gender equality or are ‘feminists’ (which is the same thing, guys, despite the negative connotations associated with this ‘feminist’ label), you imply that you’re not threatened and paradoxically appear more masculine – despite how a conservative society may bring you up to believe in male dominance. What these protests aim to do is not to undermine or invalidate people.
Humour me with this hifalutin thought: consider that you have been subconsciously conditioned to judge your self-worth by the privilege and power of your culturally-constructed identity (part of which includes gender). I am not excusing the behaviours of those who perpetrate sexual assault (or any kind of assault). However, for those who feel threatened by these movements campaigning for different types of equality, and who haven’t actually committed a crime, perhaps the feeling of being threatened arises from influential external factors that you had no control over. Your conditioning is not your fault and these movements are not targeting you specifically.
Gender equality movements (and ANY movement for equality, whether that be racial, sexual, wage, etc.) are challenging the historically unchallenged and unrealised aspects of our broader cultural upbringing because the nature of being ‘conditioned’ means that ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’. There’s no way you can know any differently. I can personally attest to how traumatic it is to have the foundations of one’s belief’s being shaken to the core, but please let these movements for equality happen (and support them if you can).
There are some things that are worth your current ego being sacrificed in the name of a selfless, common good for humanity. Campaigning for a safer environment for all, campaigning against sexual violence on our campuses (and frankly, against sexual violence anywhere)? That’s something worth fighting for.