When is the last time you spoke up?

When was the last time you spoke up against sexism? racism? or any other form of discrimination?

I was at my significant other’s hockey game and during the middle of the game heard “what, are you wearing a dress?” yelled over the ice from the opposing team. Both teams had a female on the ice rink playing for them but neither batted an eye. The comment was directed to my significant other’s team even though they were beating them. I sat there, frozen, unsure of what to do or how to respond. The benches where the teams sat were on the opposite end of the rink and were almost inaccessible to me. I felt helpless and pissed off at the comment and my lack of opportunity to speak up.

When was the last time you called someone out-stranger, teacher, coworker, significant other, or your best friend for making a sexist/racist/homophobic statement? How many times have you heard someone use “retarded” in a joking sense?  How many more comments do you have to hear before you stand up for humanity? How “comfortable” do you have to be with the offending person before you say something? If they are not going to change on their own,  how can you or I change to speak up for yourself or others?

“The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn. ” – Gloria Steinem

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2 Comments

  1. Posted August 31, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    I guess the most recent was contacting that pro-domestic violence ad beauty salon mentioned on the main part of this site. That was today…yesterday I explained to a relative how class privilege can intersect with racism as far as public schools in different districts of the city go…for months we’ve been embroiled in a fair housing battle and at this point I practically treat men who overstep their boundaries with me or anyone who says anything about my husband’s disability as chum buckets…I thank this site for introducing me to the concept of kyriarchy and how much this is all around us.

  2. Posted August 31, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    Oh, the pains of growing a backbone! I was always too nervous before to really say anything. Always felt like Meg Ryan on “You’ve Got Mail” because I could only think of retorts after the fact. Until…well, March. This is a story I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of telling. I spent a weekend with some guy friends of mine, which I now refer to as the “Misogynistic Weekend.” For the first time in my life I fully felt and perceived all the little subtle ways they were acting sexist towards me. Before I would have walked away feeling crappy and confused, now I knew why. It hurt me so bad that I became livid (my coworker, who gets to hear all my vents, thought I was going to murder someone, lol). One of those guys came over a few weeks later and said something that hit that same button, and I promptly told him to leave. Of course, not knowing what he did, he insisted I tell him what he had said to elicit such a strong response. I hesitated for a moment, and then unleashed in a calm steady voice my list of grievances. Some of which was not having my opinion respected, being shoved into this tiny box of the “pure, innocent woman” that they should shield from all that could ‘taint’ her, and finally being (as a female/woman) the butt of all their incredibly sexist jokes (to list but a few). The clinch came when i finished by saying that, deciding not to put up with such treatment anymore, I was prepared to severe all ties with them. Since then, he has done a 180 in what he says, how he treats me and other women in his life, and his own opinions on these controversial matters. Now he is even standing up to his friends and other men about the ways they are mistreating others. I find, with such a good start to calling someone to account for themselves, it gets easier every time. Practice makes Perfect :)

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