Day of Change 2021



The SHARP Warriors’ Day of Change aimed to spark conversations regarding sexual violence with a goal of inspiring “hope and resilience”.

On Friday, May 14, the high school participated in its first Day of Change, an event organized by the school’s Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) Warriors to talk about topics surrounding sexual harassment and assault.

B-Block, Alice MacGarvie Thompson, Staff Writer

The first ever Day of Change began with a B-block video presentation on “Framing the Conversation.” Created and taught by SHARP (Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Prevention) members, the lesson introduced many topics surrounding rape culture.

The lesson defined key terms, such as misogyny, consent and toxic masculinity. It explained that there are Non-Misogyney Affected People (cisgender men) and Misogyney Affected People (everyone else). Trigger warnings were provided before slides that had mention of especially triggering topics.

Rape culture, which normalizes sexual violence, was also defined. In rape culture, victims are often dismissed, not believed and/or blamed for being raped. This system makes it very hard for victims to get justice and to interupt the cycle of rape culture. Incorporated was a video about victim blaming that used an analogy of blaming someone for being murdered.

The lesson explained that the patriarchy and rape culture hurts everyone and is also participated in by everyone. Senior Dani Smalls taught this in the beginning of the lesson.

“The goal of today is to open informed conversations about how the patriarchy and systems of gender oppression affect and are perpetuated by everyone,” Smalls said.

The lesson also had a section on consent, using the acronym FRIES (freely given, reversible, informed, enthusiastic, specific) to describe what consent is. It explained that power imbalances such as status and age impact the ability to give consent. Many other factors impact ability to give consent, such as intoxication or incapacitation.

Another section of the presentation was on sexual harassment and assault. The video explained the differences between sexual misconduct, harassment, assault and coercion. “True or False” style questions were provided throughout, one of which being “Sexual misconduct can occur between romantic partners” (true).

The lesson ended on trauma and recovery. Trauma is the reorganization of the brain, which has long lasting impacts. Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can occur when people have experienced or witnessed a terrifying event. The lesson explained the impacts and manifestations of trauma and PTSD on survivors, as well as recovery from trauma. The four Rs are realize, recognize, respond and resist. Resources for survivors were provided on canvas and in the lesson.

E-Block, Audrey Garon & Taeyu Kim, Staff Writers

The Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Prevention’s (SHARP) presentation on the Patriarchy and Toxic Masculinity addressed many issues within the topic, such as the lack of representation of women in leadership roles and male silence.

The low statistics of women in positions of power were mentioned to start the presentation. Under 30% of elected government officials are women even though women make up 51% of the US population, and women of color make up only about 2% of positions in STEM while men take up 73%.

The presentation continued by highlighting statistics around sexual assault. Not only women, but 23.1% of transgender, genderqueer, and/or nonconforming college students have been sexually assaulted. 47% of transgender people have been sexually assulted at one point in their lives, with higher rates being seen for people of color, the homeless, people with disablities and those who have done sex work.

The presentation also included a Ted Talk by founder/director of MVP strategies Jackson Katz. He discussed the concept that women’s issues (i.e. gender violence) are also men’s issues. According to Katz, when society labels something as a women’s issue, men are then “given an excuse not to listen” or stand up for women. Katz mentioned that boys need to challenge one another if what they’re saying or doing is not ok. He said that “silence is a form of consent” in the sense that it gives others permission to continue their harmful behavior.

During the presentation, there was an emphasis on the negative effects of the misleading and false ideas highlighted above. Men feel the pressure to only express emotions through anger and to be silent about their experiences. They see unrealistic body standards in sports and workout culture. There are misconceptions of men of color, especially black men in being hyper aggressive as a result as well. Women, on the other hand, are hyper-sexualized, constantly depicted as weak or “damsels in distress.”

Stopping the effects of the patriarchy is something that everyone owes to both men, women, other adults, children and especially the future generations. Or as Katz said,“Going forward, men and women working together can make the change and the transformation so that future generations won’t have the level of tragedy that we deal with on a daily basis”.

F-Block, Leehy Gertner, News Editor

The F block portion of Day of Courage on Friday May 14 consisted of a short video prepared by the Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) Warriors and a TED Talk from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Both videos spoke of unrealistic gender expectations placed on women and girls and how they can be dangerous in terms of negative self-perception and the cyclical nature of toxic masculinity.

The video prepared by the SHARP Warriors explained the negative implications pushed by the portrayal of women in social media, movies, music and other forms of media. It said that dolls marketed towards young girls, such as Barbies and Bratz dolls, are typically given unrealistic body standards which can turn into insecurities. Other toys, such as cooking and cleaning sets, reinforce gender roles.

“While girls are taught that cleaning, cooking and taking care of children or household tasks are fun activities, boys are encouraged to pursue leisure activities like playing sports, and playing with toy cars or toy guns,” the SHARP video said. “These power dynamics are subconsciously being taught and marketed through products from a very young age.”

The video said that women in movies and television are often portrayed as not smart or strong enough to rescue themselves—hence the involvement of men in the role of a hero.

“This enforces the patriarchal idea that men are saviors of women, which can be extremely toxic, especially as women enter adulthood having internalized these savior values. Women may find it hard to stand up to male partners in situations of domestic abuse or unhealthy relationships,” the video said.

Even when women in movies are portrayed as the stereotypical “strong female character,” the video said they are still heavily sexualized and objectified. Their outfits are skimpy, they always have a sexual love interest and their bodies are on display in every trailer or movie poster.

In Adichie’s TED Talk, she spoke about the conversations that she has had throughout her life about feminism, ambition, and the realities of being a woman. She said that being a feminist was always viewed as a negative thing in the environments she has been in.

“[A journalist] told me that people were saying that my novel was feminist, and his advice to me—and he was shaking his head sadly as he spoke—was that I should never call myself a feminist because feminists are women who are unhappy because they cannot find husbands,” Adichie said.

As time went on, Adichie said that her own personal definition of who she was as a feminist kept changing to fit other people’s perceptions of what being a feminist meant. She ended her talk with her own final definition of a feminist.

“My own definition of a feminist is: A feminist is a man or woman who says, ‘Yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today, and we must fix it. We must do better,'” Adichie said. “The best feminist I know is my brother Kene. He’s also a kind, good-looking, lovely man and he’s very masculine.”

G-Block, Sofia Hauser & Anisa Sharma, Staff Writers

The SHARP Warriors’ Day of Change concluded with a video presentation focused on reconciliation, and aiming to inspire hope and resilience after a long day filled with vital yet challenging lessons.

With a recap of the day’s earlier lessons, the presentation gave students time to reflect on their feelings and the topics that were introduced. Students were guided to confront the ways the patriarchy affects their own lives, social attitudes and decisions and those of their peers.

In the presentation, SHARP explained the actions they take to combat gender oppression and rape culture at the high school. Students were reminded that these difficult conversations often cause intense emotions and to be patient both with themselves and their classmates.

The SHARP Warriors’ presentation consisted of their own closing sentiments and external videos, including the Bioneers’ guide to gender equity and reconciliation, which featured many activists such as South African gender reconciliation facilitator, Zanele Khumalo. According to Khumalo, reconciliation is a crucial step to alleviating the gender divide throughout society.

“Reconciliation provides us a space to reclaim our humanity as women and men,” Khumalo said.

Students were then encouraged to open the conversation to their classroom in a productive and thoughtful manner. In chemistry teacher Dr. Julia Speyer’s G-block, the SHARP Warriors’ video sparked lively and constructive discussion concerning the day’s lessons and execution.

Although multiple students had complaints around how individual teachers conducted their lessons, Speyer said she noticed the Day of Change was regarded as very valuable to the students in her class.

“For all the students who participated in the discussion, which wasn’t everybody, what they were getting at was how important they saw this day,” Speyer said.