If schools have time to do a workshop on sexual consent, that's good, & they should, & it's something. But all this has to start earlier, in early years. Plus, schools aren't a replacement for society & can only do so much. But yes, if the one, the only place young ppl can hear a
..different mssg then it's really important they hear it in that institution. Safe space to get real & be honest is welcomed by young ppl. Talking about gender expectations & myths is welcomed. Yes there should be space for this & it needs to be done skilfully.
I've delivered such training, including to men only groups. Here's some of the things we need to talk honestly about. These are sort of things that come up: why are men blamed for everything; girls want bad boys then when we do that we get blamed; girls like boys who are dicks;
nobody goes out to rape anybody stop treating us like rapists; feminism hates men; we may say stuff to each other but it's just joking; I don't like it when women try to grab my arse at work but nobody cares about that etc. So you need to able to not sell out your feminism & to..
..educate ppl on the basics of the law for their own sakes if nowt else, somehow get ppl to see things from another person's perspective, make space to imagine how actions might be recieved even when that's v different to the intent, not shame ppl any more than they already feel.
For anyone doing this work my advice is: Start from the premise that such workshops are useful to help out friends if they may need it. Emphasise that young ppl are more likely to turn to friends for advice & for role models than ever go to an authority figure or special service.
Convey then that the point of workshops is to empower & support young ppl in case they end up in a situation where they need to help a friend or provide leadership. Point is that it's difficult & even teachers don't always know how to respond or what to say so it's not right that
young ppl are just left without some skills, tips or ideas & this is about not leaving you adrift to do all this on your own. So right from the off you are approaching ppl as good, as supporters, as helpers, as active leaders. The workshop is about supporting that. Always make
clear that you assume everyone there cares about their peers & wants only the best for themselves & others. Once you've established rapport you can talk about intent & reception & always do this in reference to an imaginary peer. So someone may say something or joke to show off
to group & may say something about a girl, not violent or anything. You may assume girl will come back with something or tell guy to fuck off. So now you try exercise in how that could be v differently recieved, what if young woman was on her own, separated from friends, what if
she cut her night short because of that, what if that was fifth leery comment she'd had that night & she was sick of it, what if that was first time she'd been out since being sexually assaulted. It's all to try & imagine seeing things from someone else's perspective.
Anyway, it's all very delicate & everyone is affected by trying to live up to gendered expectations & figure out what they even are. We need a paradigm shift in how women are portrayed in culture. If you present women & girls as nothing but objects then you can't feign surprise
& throw your hands in the air when women are treated as jst that. Plus, if our boys & young men have gendered attitudes we profess not to like, don't keep scrutinizing & shaming them like they dreamt it up out of nowhere. They learnt it. They learnt it from us. Change the lesson.

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More from @Finn_Mackay

6 Apr
"Blunkett - "identity politics" must not be allowed to create an environment in which schoolboys were unfairly judged, following accusations of sexual harassment sweeping British private schools." Erm, sexual assault is a legal matter, not ID politics! telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/04/0…
"view that there was a "rape culture" in many British schools & colleges was "shocking". He added that if this view was widely accepted it could have "dangerous consequences" for boys unfairly accused of sexual misconduct." Ffs! What about the "dangerous consequences" for girls
So, pupils talking about experiences of sexual harassment, assault, possibly other kinds of sexual violence allegedly perpetrated by male pupils & allegedly not dealt with adequately by the schools is "dangerous" for boys & is in fact just making false allegations? Wtf?!
Read 6 tweets
22 Mar
Safe streets for women #ReclaimTheseStreets #ReclaimTheNight what can be done? When I was researching my book on feminist activism & particularly Reclaim the Night marches, women often gendered public space as default male. Women would say that RtN marches 'took back' 'took over'
'reclaimed' public space in their town/city centres. So much concrete, steps, bridges etc. Likewise, when on RtN marches, hostile men watching often receive these protests in exactly the same way, as incursion, trespass, invasion, takeover. Many times I've been on RtN & heard...
hostile men bystanders shout stuff like'get in the kitchen' 'go home' 'these are our streets'. So women are not wrong in perceiving public space as default male. We will not end sexualised male violence against women overnight, but we can change this messaging by changing cities.
Read 12 tweets
22 Mar
The protest in #Bristol was against the Tory bill to stop the right to protest. Police, Crime, Sentencing & Courts Bill. It was not a BLM protest, yet this is being suggested, in order to attack anti-racist movements & to peddle racist stereotypes libertyhumanrights.org.uk/issue/libertys…
You know how people were angry they weren't allowed to protest fatal, racist police violence & institutional racism including police harassment & violence here in the UK, after police murdered George Floyd in the US. You know how ppl were angry they weren't allowed to protest...
...after the news a police officer was charged with kidnapping & murdering a young woman in London, in a culture where sexual harassment is the norm for most women, where sexualised male violence against women is a threat & reality women organise their lives around? You know...
Read 6 tweets
11 Mar
Everyone is asking what men can do. #NotAllMen #TooManyMen #YesAllWomen Men could hold silent vigils, could demand their peers change, could challenge sexism from peers (and in their own attitudes/values). Men could try to unlearn what society has shamefully taught them since
childhood, which is that women are special & different, that sex is a conquest, that control of women is a way to move up the patriarchal pecking order, that sex is something men want & women choose to give or withhold until they are persuaded or forced otherwise, that women are
objects to be looked at, that displays or language of violence & toughness are manly & are a universal way to impress other men, that women (often women of a certain race & class at least – White, middle class) need looking after & protecting yet at the same time what all women
Read 14 tweets
11 Mar
My heart just goes out to Sarah Everard's family & loved ones. This is at once absolutely unimaginable & at the same time everyone's worst nightmare. Tragedies like this backlight a constant background, women aren't suddenly noticing sexual harassment or threats, it's that...
..tragedies sometimes allow a small window in which women are allowed to talk about managing the threat & reality of sexualised male violence. In this moment women are more likely to be heard & slightly more likely to be believed. This window will close again, as it always does.
We've been here before. And yet whenever a woman's life & future is taken like this society looks in through the window at all the women saying: this, this is what we live with & fear dying from, it's so present it's almost unconscious. And society pretends to be shocked.
Read 6 tweets
10 Mar
Sometimes, in response to news coverage of male violence against women, women will think/say: what time was that, was it dark then, I'd not walk that way etc. Victim-blaming is indeed wrong, but this can also be understood as a form of psychic self-defense. A way of distancing...
...a way of saying: it couldn't be me. This is a defence against the truth we all know, which is that it could be any of us. Because these aren't isolated incidents, & all women live with, in spite of & to spite the threat & reality of sexualised male violence.
Every time, time after time, how many times! police say to women: don't go out after dark, don't wear headphones, don't use your phone, do pretend to be on your phone, don't walk this way, be careful of taxis, don't get too drunk, wear trainers...women are made responsible &...
Read 6 tweets

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