Jinan Younis and a group of her peers believed strongly in gender equality and felt that girls in their peer group were subject to huge pressures as a result of their gender; heavy pressure to agree to sexual acts, eating disorders as a result of trying to live up to the media propagated image of beauty and emotionally abusive relationships which left them feeling worthless. Persuading the school to allow this society was an uphill struggle and when they permitted it to go ahead the girls felt victorious. Little did they know their battle was just beginning.
For the next few weeks the girls were to be subjected to vast levels of extremely personalized, graphic and degrading abuse from (particularly male) peers. This followed their decision to participate in an online campaign where people posted pictures with the slogan “Feminism matters because…” and their reason, often using personal or painful experiences to bravely make their voices heard.
The schools response, far from punishing those at the forefront of the bullying and sexist verbal assaults (which also took place on twitter and facebook) was censorship. They recommended that the girls take down the pictures, giving the perpetrators the impression that they were vindicated in their response and that, the victims were in some way responsible for generating it. Jinan’s article, which makes for difficult reading, was just the start of her fight back.
Today UK Feminista, working with Jinan, will launch a pledge for schools to sign in a bid to try and get them to take a lead on working with their male and female students to put an end to violence against women and discrimination of the kind faced by Jinan and to promote equality and opportunity for all.
Those who want to show their support for Jinan and the girls can do so by posting a picture with a placard starting “Feminism belongs in schools/education because” on the tumblr account: www.feminismbelongs.tumblr.com
Jinan hopes to use the momentum generated by the pledge and the tumblr site to take DIY FemSoc packs into schools to promote the pledge and to encourage other young people to start talking about gender, feminism and equality.
The school’s actions were a disservice to not only girls and women but to society at large. When we fail in supporting the voices of girls we also turn our backs on boys who need a helping hand in becoming more informed young men.
Please join us in sending a message loud and clear to Altrincham Grammar School for Girls and other schools around the country that gender empowerment has a firm place in education!
Take a photo to show solidarity with the girls! : http://feminismbelongs.tumblr.com/
Sign Here and Ask Schools to Take Action Against Sexism! : http://ukfeminista.org.uk/take-action/generation-f/schools-against-sexism-pledge/