As part of a school campaign to examine and raise awareness for gender equality and how feminism affects both men and women, students at Sydney Boys High School asked female teachers, friends, sisters and mothers why feminism is important to them.
In this video, the boys read out some of the women’s responses.
Student participant Hugh Bartley explained to the Sydney Morning Herald, “As young men [we are] using our privilege and platform to express desires for gender equality, and men to be more considerate of women in everyday lives.”
While the video was well received overall, the Sydney Girls High School (sister school of the Sydney Boys High School) had a different opinion of the boys’ efforts. In an open letter, the girls expressed their concerns over what the video really meant for women and girls.
While we believe it is an important initiative promoting feminism by Sydney Boys, the reality of sexism at boys’ schools similar to and including Sydney Boys has failed to be addressed by the video.
As female students we experience first-hand the objectification and devaluing of women by male students.
The fact that a tokenistic video, which appropriates women’s voices and reinforces the idea that women’s experiences must be voiced by men in order to be validated, has gained international praise is troubling.
We certainly do not wish to discourage further support of feminism. But we believe the question must be asked of why it is that male voices are needed, even on International Women’s Day, to bring attention to these issues that, if expressed by women, would be disregarded.
Bravo to Sydney Girls High School as they make an important and valid point. Hopefully, this point will be shared and explained to these boys, and if they are real allies, committed to the cause, they will listen and learn.