The Shona Project was built for girls, by girls, and we love having a safe space to share our experiences. This week, we decided to shake things up a bit and bring some boys into the mix, to hear from them about their lives.
Our first guy up this week is Joe. Joe is a Laois man and is currently studying Journalism & Digital Communications at UL. Over lockdown, Joe realised how truly supportive all the women in his life are and he has decided to share some ways we can appreciate and support the women in our lives (along with some pictures of the women in his life!). So, take it away Joe…
Like for all of you reading this, 2020 has been very hard for me. Although I haven’t had it as bad as other people, there are still times I needed to reach out for help. Earlier this year, I honestly had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Will I go to college? Will I take a year out? What if I have to repeat the leaving cert?
I was so stressed about school and on top of that, there was a global pandemic. Thankfully, I had a great support network. My sister was always there if I needed to rant, my Mam was always there if I needed advice and my friends (mostly girls) were always there if I just needed to laugh.
I realised it was the women in my life that were keeping me going. It’s important that all of us, not just me, appreciate and support these amazing women.
In recent years, women in our country have faced numerous challenges. Sexism in the workplace, in the Dáil, Image-based sexual abuse, and the controversy surrounding CervicalCheck to name a few. It is crucial that men stand up for women, here are a few ways how:
Taking the time to listen
It’s hard for men to completely understand what women go through. That’s why it’s important to listen to your female friends and family and see how the challenges they face actually affect them. Before writing this, I had spoken with my sister about how her work-life in the past was plagued by sexist acts from staff and customers alike. For example, being questioned on her ability to do her job and more extremely, being groped by strange men.
Hearing someone’s personal experience allows you to empathise with the frustration they feel. I have always been an ally to women but hearing my sister’s personal experience has compelled me to condemn sexism in all forms, no matter the situation.
Call out sexism when you see it
This leads me to my second point; we need to call out sexism when we see it. If one of your friends says something sexist, even if it’s a joke, let them know it’s wrong. Joking about serious issues belittles the victims affected by it. If one of your colleagues at work does or says something sexist, call them out.
Understandably, it may be daunting to do. Something I’ve learned from situations like this is that most other people involved also want to call it out but are scared to. We need to get out of our comfort zone and not allow sexist behaviour to continue. Men have certain privileges and it’s time we use them to advocate for women.
Knowing your privilege
Finally, a look at privilege. Some men think that feminism and phrases like ‘male privilege’ are personal attacks on their manhood. Here are a few examples of male privilege to get the ball rolling.
Understanding your privilege really should be the first step to empathy but since many men are offended by this prospect, maybe it’s better to listen first. To understand sexism, we must understand our privilege.
To summarise: listen up, call it out, and know your privilege. These are three quite easy ways to be an ally to women. One thing I should say though is that this is a short introduction to allyship. There is still a lot more to do. So get involved!
We want to say a massive thank you to Joe for sharing some tips on how to support the women in your life and getting involved in the conversation.
If you want to keep up to date with Joe, you can follow him on his Instagram below.
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Keep an eye out for more of our Lad’s Takeover Week here at Shona where we get the boys involved in the conversation. If you have a story you would like to share with us, pop us over an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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