The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) is “choose to challenge”, which aims to encourage people to challenge inequality, stereotypes and bias. Challenging the behaviour of others can be hard, especially if they’re in a position of power. Our new, online world also makes difficult conversations less appealing (the only thing more awkward than a zoom call is using said zoom call to confront a relative’s sexism or call out a friend’s misogynistic joke). But challenging others, and ourselves, is an important step to creating an inclusive environment. IWD is a wonderful celebration of women’s achievements, however all too often these success stories occur against a backdrop of sexism and discrimination. Below are some tips should you “choose to challenge” this March and beyond.
Know your options
There are different ways of challenging inequality and they don’t all involve starting a debate. If you witness unacceptable behaviour within the LSE community (online or offline) you can report it (anonymously if you prefer) via LSE’s reporting system. LSESU’s Advice Service can also provide confidential advice on making a complaint.
Don’t try to have the last word!
When you feel strongly about something it can be easy to turn a conversation into an argument about who is right. This is rarely helpful. Try and find out why the other person believes what they do and consider what resources they may find helpful. Being a feminist is a lifelong endeavour as opposed to a one-off argument to be won so pace yourself!
Consider your privilege
Being an ally is a great way to celebrate the women in your life. We’re all responsible for challenging discrimination and unacceptable behaviour, not just those who are affected by it.
Take an intersectional approach
Oppression is multifaceted and it’s important to be aware that some groups of women, such as those in the LGBT+, BME and disabled communities, experience layers of discrimination.
Look after yourself
There may be times when you don’t feel safe to challenge someone. Your safety (and mental health) is important and so always feel able to remove yourself from a harmful situation.
Blog written by Jen Hastings.
Jen is the Head of Student Voice in the LSE Students’ Union, and oversees the management of the Advice Team.
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