Data by WHO shows that 1 in every 3 women experience physical or sexual violence by a partner or non-partner. This young boy aims to change that by educating his peers on their role in it.
“... in practice the standard for what constitutes rape is set not at the level of women's experience of violation but just above the level of coercion acceptable to men.” ― Judith Lewis Herman
For decades, women have been subjected to sexual violence. Not all of them may have experienced it as such, but nearly all of them have faced everything from objectification to sexual harassment. In fact, according to WHO, "1 in 3 women, around 736 million, are subjected to physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner or sexual violence from a non-partner," and its statistics haven't changed much over the years. Granted, more women are coming out and speaking about it, a decision that sparked the #MeToo movement but even today, many of them are made to feel powerless in a society that caters to men.
However, while there is some change in mindset that women are to blame for what happens to them, the pace is slow. There are a few men who are willing to be a part of the change and to educate others on it as well. One such example comes in the form of a Captain of a boys' school in Australia. Mason Black of the Brisbane Boys' College delivered an impassioned and chilling speech to his peers about trying to fix the issue of sexual violence against women, according to News AU. He told them to "accept this injustice against women and stand up for what is right. This is not solely an issue of protecting women but an issue of educating men. Stop being boys, be human."
"If you have ever objectified a woman based on her looks, talked about females in a misogynistic way, or taken advantage without consent, you are part of the problem," he said. "Seemingly harmless comments can have such devastating effects. Boys, don't allow yourself to slip into complacent denial by disregarding the seriousness of this issue," quoted the Daily Mail.
His speech comes after thousands of stories exposing Australia’s rape culture came to light when Australian of the Year—Grace Tame—and former Liberal staffer—Brittany Higgins—shared their stories of being groomed by a teacher at 15 and being raped in the Parliament House, respectively. Additionally, Mason's institution is one of the many schools in the country that has been named in testimonies from girls who say they were the victims of sexual assaults, harassment, or rape.
"It makes me feel sick and it makes me feel embarrassed that our school is featured in the testimonies of young women who are victims of sexual assault," he said. And that's when he shared a heartbreaking story—that he found out his own mother had been such a victim as a little girl while searching her name in Google. "How it came about was I found out one night at the boarding house, I was googling my mum's name and she wrote a book that talked about her early life called Motherhood," he said. "I found this chapter which was all about her story and on Mother's Day I printed it out and gave it to her."
Later, when speaking to Sunrise, the young man said, "My own mother, at the age of 10, against her will, was sexually abused before she learned about the birds and bees. Are you brave enough to ask your mum about her experiences? What about your sisters? Friends? You shouldn't have to ask women these questions."
"Why is it that almost every day we hear of new cases and examples of abuse against women?" Mason asked in his speech. "I wish I grew up in an Australia where the narrative that one in three women will be physically or sexually abused at some point in their life wasn't true. How can it be that even with all of our money and laws every day women around our country continue to be abused, raped, psychologically vilified, and denied the basic human rights that most males take for granted?"
He also criticized NSW Police commissioner Mick Fuller's app that requires lovers to input their consent before sexual intercourse. "I understand the good intention [Commissioner Fuller] is proposing. But has our society degraded so far that in this day and age that we are living in, women have to have an app to say no?" Mason asked his peers. "What you really need is a basic acceptance and respect, and that boys is on all of us. Boys, if a woman wants to say no, and she says no, we have to listen, understand and accept this. This rape culture is so deeply ingrained into today's world, and it needs to be addressed."
Ever since the young man made his stirring speech, he has gone viral and received immense support for it. "The support has been amazing," Mason explained. "Not a single man has come up to me and gone against what I said, and it is so inspirational." While some might take objection to the fact that it takes a man to say this for a woman to be heard, at least there is someone acknowledging the issue and trying to make changes. At the end of the day, it takes all of us to make a difference.
You can watch the full speech here:
Cover image source: Instagram | BBC_Spirit