It doesn’t seem a day goes by without there being a new scandal to hit the headlines.
However, there is a positive to all of this. We have seen it everywhere from the red carpet at the Golden Globes to the streets of London. Increasingly more and more people feel comfortable talking openly about issues like sexism. Quite rightly this important discussion has now spread to schools in the UK.
A recent BBC article quoted one male secondary school student who said: “I hear it so often now it just doesn’t actually bother me, it’s just part of everyday life, just a normal word” when asked about his views in a special session teaching students about the impact of verbal abuse against women.
Their teacher noted that since students spend such a large amount of time online there are no social boundaries and different rules now apply. The type of language being used online has crossed over into real life without many students realising.
The sessions set up at that school focused on openly discussing derogatory phrases that the students were using towards one another. When students talked about how they felt when the language was aimed at them, it started to make everyone think twice about the impact their words had on each other.
“When you’re saying it… you never think about what the consequences could be from what you’ve said. So now that you have an insight in what it makes other people feel like, it makes me less likely to use it,” said one boy.
So here are some ways you can start tackling everyday sexism:
Start calling it out
As you can see from the above, the key to starting to tackle issues like sexism is to begin talking about it openly. If it is safe to do so, let people know that the way in which they are speaking to you is not appropriate and that it makes you feel uncomfortable. Start talking to your friends and share experiences.
Be an active bystander
It can sometimes be incredibly hard for victims of sexism to stand up for themselves. However, for a bystander it’s much easier to intervene. This doesn’t mean that you enter into a confrontation but you can interrupt a situation by asking for the time or for directions. This will give the person an opportunity to get away.
Don’t buy into gender stereotypes
Girls like dolls and boys like cars, right? Wrong. We need to expand young people’s minds by introducing them to as much as we can to give them as many opportunities in life as possible. How about a cooking session with the boys and a science experiment with the girls? When young people start challenging gender stereotypes early on they will carry that mindset through to adulthood so do give them some help to get going!