Change The Culture!
1 out of 3 teens will experience dating abuse before they turn 18. Why is this so common? Many things contribute to dating abuse, but we're gonna focus on a few of the biggest factors - systems of power & oppression and gender stereotypes.
We understand that dating abuse is one of many forms of power-based violence. It exists within a culture that allows some groups in society to have power and control over others. We learn from an early age that some people have more value than others and that some groups in society deserve more power and privileges. So it's not really that surprising that these ideas sometimes show up in personal relationships.
We cannot end dating violence without also working to end sexism, cissexism ("Cis" is the opposite of "trans." It means that someone identifies with the gender assigned to them by doctors at birth. Cissexism is the oppression of folks who are trans/gender-queer or non-binary.), heterosexism, racism, nationalism, colonialism, classism, ableism, ageism, and all forms of oppression. The graphic below goes into more detail about which groups typically have more power and privilege and which groups are often denied power and privilege.
From Crushin' It session on power, privilege, and oppression.
We also know that strict gender roles and stereotypes can contribute to dating violence, as well as bullying and other forms of power-based harm. We are often taught that there are "right" and "wrong" ways to express our gender. This makes it harder to be our true selves. And expectations about how others are supposed to be or act can harm our relationships.
Can you think of a time that someone put you in a box because of your gender? How did that make you feel?
Here are just a few truths about gender that we hope everyone will one day understand:
- Gender doesn't belong in a box.
- There are more than two genders.
- Only YOU have the right to decide how you identify and how you express your gender.
- Boys can feel all the feelings. And boys do cry. Sensitivity is strength.
- Girls are strong and brilliant. And their minds and hearts are a million times more important than their looks.
- It is OK for someone of any gender to "make the first move" in a dating relationship.
- Anyone can be nurturing or be in a care giving role.
- Jobs should not be gendered. Girls can be engineers. Boys can be nurses.
- Anyone can be a leader!
We believe that the more we talk and learn about gender diversity, the more understanding and accepting we will be of one another - and that means healthier and happier friendships and dating relationships!
Check out one of our favorite graphics below, The Gender Unicorn, to see how complex and cool gender and sexuality can be!
We strongly believe that young people can make real changes in this world. And we want you to feel ready and able to have big conversations about these important topics with the people in your lives. You can help create a new and better culture, where everyone is valued and no one feels that they have the right to control other people.
If you are interested in volunteering with Crushin' It or just learning more, please send us a message. We want to hear from you!