by Kerry Holden, Violence Prevention Specialist, Umbrella
The Green Dot Bystander Intervention Strategy was touted to be bold, fun, effective, and interesting. What people forgot to tell me was it is blatantly not feminist and, in fact, purposefully left the educational path of gender socialization, historical and persistent sexism, and healthy relationships. In just the first hours of the training, I heard something along the lines of:
“If we continue to follow the expectations that the majority have of feminists, of people who come into classrooms, community centers, and onto campuses to discuss gender inequality and socialization, we will continue to be ineffective and the sexual assault numbers will continue to rise. We need not to turn every single citizen into a social justice-blaring, femi-nazi, though that would be pretty awesome, but what we do need to do is stop rape. And we need to stop it now.”
The training continued to put words and research to a phenomenon I had not yet described but know all too well: individuals tend to tune out and opt out of participation in my presentations. Violence prevention, rape statistics, media literacy, gender socialization- I could not imagine how the topics could be more interesting. Fortunately for me, there are always a solid handful of individuals who endeared themselves to my social-justice framework and had done some research and thinking of their own. But males, popular students, jocks, drama nerds, red necks, loners all remained elusive to really diving into the material. You name the clique and I promise you, I have tried to get them on board.
Admittedly, I was relieved to hear my experience was not unique. Though, as stated and restated throughout the training, it was my responsibility to change my experience and that of the individuals with whom I work.
If someone has tuned out of your presentation, it’s not because they’re a real jerk or basking in their male privilege or because they hate women. It’s because your presentation is boring and, likely, they’ve heard it all before.
The Green Dot Bystander Intervention Strategy operates on one basic premise: most people fundamentally disagree with violence of any kind. If you can agree with the one premise, you too can prevent sexual assault and interpersonal violence. Do you think violence is terrible? Don’t think rape is okay? Happen to greatly enjoy your male privilege and refuse to own up to it? Great. Let’s end rape.
Here’s a scenario that nudged a shift in my thinking: Continue reading