As the national office’s Online Communications Specialist, it’s an understatement to say that I just “use” Twitter. If Twitter were a person, we’d be best friends for life. I’d bake it a cake on its birthday. We would visit farmers’ markets together on weekends. Twitter and I would take photos of ourselves in matching sweaters and send them out in holiday cards.
So needless to say I’m on the site all day, keeping an eye on what Communities In Schools affiliates are up to, as well current events and trending topics.
The big news yesterday on Twitter was the trending topic #mencallmethings. #mencallmethings tweets are not fun or entertaining. Rather, they are a wake-up call to the sexual harassment women face across the country. Twitter users are using the hashtag to share the offensive, sexist words they’ve been called, and all of the tweets are a sobering reminder of how far we still have to go in the fight for gender equality.
Because the #mencallmethings tweets often include violent, misogynistic language, we will not be sharing them here. Please read them at your own risk.
Many of the women sending out #mencallmethings tweets are recalling insults they heard at work, over the Internet, or in bars and restaurants. But sexual harassment begins for most women before they’ve even graduated high school.
I found it really interesting yesterday that as #mencallmethings grew wildly in popularity and people across the Internet were talking about it, the American Association of University Women quietly released the results of a study, revealing that 48 percent of nearly 2,000 students surveyed had experienced verbal, physical or online sexual harassment at school during the 2010-11 school year.
Sexual harassment isn’t just groping: it’s what people say as well, and with the advent of social media, sexual harassment between students is becoming more pervasive. Cell phone photos, Facebook posts, and, yes, even tweets from my beloved Twitter can be used to harm young people away from the watchful eyes of teachers and parents.
According to the study, “more than one in 10 students said they had stayed home from school or gotten in trouble at school because they were harassed, and nearly one in three found the harassment interfered with their ability to study.” Communities In Schools’ mission is to provide students with the resources they need to make it to school every day, and giving them the power to fight harassment is no exception. Our mentors empower girls and boys to speak out against sexism in school, so that everyone has a safe place to learn and grow.
Some of our affiliates even have entire programs dedicated to empowerment. Communities In Schools of Los Angeles, for instance, recently launched “Ladies First,” a program focused on promoting the role of women in the workplace. Communities In Schools of Seattle works with nonprofit The Danna K. Johnston Foundation, which runs “The Successful Young Women Project,” providing confidence-building activities for teenage girls.
The #mencallmethings hashtag brings to light the misogynistic language women are facing today. But Communities In Schools is dedicated to helping our younger generations understand that sexist language (towards women and men) is not something to be tolerated. Rather, it’s something that, together, we can work on eliminating from our vocabulary.