The Importance of Individual Advocacy
Advocacy begins on an interpersonal level. Starting conversations with friends and family is one easy way to make a seemingly large and complex issue into something that can be easily understood.
By Katie Briante
Individual Advocacy: Taking Responsibility for Advocating
However, starting that first conversation is one of the best ways to bring awareness to the subject and a good start to letting people know know just how crucial it really is.
One of the most effective ways to advocate is to have a one-on-one conversation with someone about gender or sexuality. If the information is coming from someone that they know and trust, they may be more receptive to it.
“If we sit down and have honest conversations without being offended, asking questions because we care and we want to know instead of incriminating and asking why with the wrong body language and just language in general,” Lauren Stohler, a gender and body studies major at Cabrini University, said.
Stohler believes that not only is it important to have these conversations so that others can understand gender and sexuality better, but it is also important so that those who are experiencing these issues can be heard and understood.
Call-ins vs Call-outs
Another way that people can advocate for issues like gender and sexuality is to speak up when people are saying things that are offensive or discriminatory. This idea of “call-out” culture has sprung up around the idea stopping discrimination in its tracks.
“I try, when I do my call-outs, I try to do it in a gentle way. If I just say, ‘You’re a misogynist,’ a lot of people will get defensive and that escalates the situation,” Cassi Segulin, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, said. “So what’s become more popular are “call-ins” instead of “call-outs” where you privately message that person or pull them aside or something like that and talk about it one on one.”
It depends upon the situation and it is up to the individual whether they “call-in” or “call-out”, but the idea is to stop discriminatory language and actions before they can be perpetuated even further.
“I think it’s important for us to understand our differences and find strengths in those differences in order to build eachother up,” Amber Hikes, the executive director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs for the City of Philadelphia, said.
With any type of advocacy, the first place that people should start with is themselves. Looking at the world and then reflecting inwardly, asking “What don’t I know?” and “What do I need to know?” is really the best place to begin. To really begin to advocate for others it is important to understand them first, and education is the key to that.
By Katie Briante
The Importance of Societal Advocacy
Societal Advocacy: Advocating for All
“I think at best when we think about law and legislation, it can be a way of reflecting what our ideal goals are for society at large and for what we want to see in a civic society,” Elizabeth Boylan, associate director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School, said. “I think that mobilizing laws can be really important because it gives us clear touch stones that people can look to as, as evidence of their rights.”
As culture and people’s opinions change, its laws and legislation begin to reflect that and people begin demanding action. In the book The Oxford Handbook of Behavioral Economics, authors Kenworthey Bilz and Janice Nadler talk about Title IX and state that “Citizens’ expectations about how they are entitled to be treated at work have clearly changed over the last three decades, ever since courts began recognizing sexual harassment as discrimination.”
Changing the law surrounding gender and sexuality is one of the great ways to ensure that the steps that are being taken forward remain in place. Currently, there are a number of pieces of legislation that are either waiting to be passed are have recently passed that are working to make sure that the laws in this country reflect the views of its people.
“It’s On Us was, I think, a six bill package introduced by the Governor who worked with legislators to develop it. And the piece of it that I have is to define affirmative consent,” Mary Jo Daley, PA State Representative for the 148th district, said. “I don’t think that there’s been a standard definition that universities and colleges can use. And so, by providing a required standard definition that’s provided in the body of the bill, I think that should help colleges and universities with this issue.”
Sexual assault, especially on college campuses has been becoming more and more talked about recently and more prevalent in the culture of today. With women in college being three times more likely to be victims of sexual assault than the average woman (according to Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network), this piece of legislation is not only very topical but will be very effective.
Representative Daley is also working on another very topical bill on age-appropriate sex education with PA State Representative Brian Sims.
“I know I feel really strongly that this is important for kids because it’s one of those topics that causes people some level of discomfort in talking about,” Daley said. “And if we can develop a curriculum in the commonwealth or if each school district can develop a curriculum that’s age-appropriate, then it arms children with a tool that they don’t necessarily have right now.”
These bills and laws like so many others at both the state and federal level are helping to make sure that the legal system is a system that reflects the thoughts and views of the nation.
However, there is opposition. Many of these types of bills meet a lot of resistance when they are introduced and need the support of the people to help them get passed.
Keeping close attention on the bills being introduced and ratified, as well as contacting your representative when there is something that you feel strongly about, will help to ensure that the laws in this country are moving in the right direction.
By Katie Briante