SLUT DIARIES: A Male Teenager Explains Why He Calls Himself A Feminist

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Since 2012, a community of teen girls in NYC has been leading the charge to end slut shaming and transform rape culture through theater, writing, and youth-lead activism. The girls, all high-school students, and their mentors at The Arts Effect, an award-winning activist theater company, developed SLUT: The Play (written by Katie Cappiello). Inspired by real events, SLUT follows the story of Joanna Grace Del Marco, a 16-year-old girl who is raped by three friends during a night out and fights to rise above shaming and victim blaming directed at her by those in her world. The critically-acclaimed play and accompanying workshops have toured the country engaging middle, high school and college students in conversations and protest around sexual shaming and rape.  Their efforts have sparked a national StopSlut movement lead by young women and men.

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The team is partnering with the Feminist Press to release its first book on February 10, 2015– SLUT: A Play and Guidebook for Combating Sexism and Sexual Violence, edited by Katie Cappiello & Meg McInerney.  SLUT: The Play and StopSlut Workshops will soon be touring to Boston, DC, and the San Francisco area.

@StopSlut | StopSlut.org

Max Fleischman is a leader of the StopSlut movement. This is his story.

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My friend’s ex-girlfriend, Amy, recently complained to me about rumors my friend had started about her. At first I sort of shrugged and had a “what can you do?” attitude. This changed when I realized he was calling her a slut because she hooked up with a guy at a party after my friend broke up with her.

This was completely absurd (and blatantly sexist) because he and I were at that same party and we both hooked up with more than two girls each, and we got nothing but praise from our friends. Even Amy was happy for me. Ever since my waking up to the double standard, I started confronting guys, and girls, who call girls sluts for hooking up with someone at a party.

Soon word spread that I was willing to listen to girls and their problems. That was when the first of my friends came to me to talk about rape. I was completely shocked by her confession. The idea that another kid could actually do such a heinous thing to a girl I was friends with was beyond my comprehension. Obviously, it was a much more emotional experience for her and I did my best to be supportive, but it left me very distraught and concerned for the rest of my friends.

More girls I knew came to me with similar stories. It got to a point where I was beyond my limit. One of the most upsetting parts of the stories I heard was that almost all sexual assaults my friends had endured were committed by guys my own age or slightly older. These guys had absolutely no respect for my friends and most of the time viewed it as normal and acceptable behavior; one even posted on my friend’s Facebook wall about what a “good time” he had. I realized simply being sad and consoling my friends wasn’t enough. I decided to do something about it.

So I embraced my male feminism. Feminism has many mixed connotations with guys. A lot of us see it as a joke; few of us really have learned what it is. For a long time I viewed modern feminism as pointless: a “women are better than men” movement. Then my friend Samia showed me the truth about feminism. Feminism is an equality movement. Samia even encouraged me to look at it as “equal-ism.” All of the controversy and confusion dropped away when I thought about it that way.

Girls are our equals, so shouldn’t they be treated as such? The double standards my friends have to deal with and the sexual violence they endure are perfect examples of why feminism matters and sexism needs to go. I mean, the idea that one gender is better (or more entitled) than the other is just idiotic.

Samia also shattered my view of feminists as bra burners (surprising to me, a myth), and showed me that feminists were normal people. For example, she showed me how my mom was, in fact, a feminist: My mom became a doctor at a time when most of her student body was male, she was top of her class; she went to a high school that was originally all boys; my mom kept her name and is, in every way, a proud independent woman. Along with this pretty impressive resume, she also had me via in vitro fertilization with my dad.

As a guy, announcing your feminism to the world is impressive to most girls; what girl doesn’t like it when a guy treats them like, you know, a person? However, it has not resulted in such a great response from guys. But I don’t care. After I educated myself and realized my stance on the issues my friends are dealing with every day, I wanted to change everything, starting with this: schools across the country should have comprehensive lessons on respect and consent.

I started a petition supporting the teaching of respect and consent in New York City schools. I would hope that most guys would not disrespect women in front of their mother, so that needs to start playing out even when our moms aren’t in the room. Fortunately, (and I really believe this) most guys are decent and if they actually listen to feminists (their friends and peers) they would feel inclined to sup- port them.

At this point, I am fully confident that guys will recognize the damaging effects of the slut shaming double standard and accept “equalism” as only fair and right. I woke up to feminism when given the chance. I want to provide that chance for other guys.

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Max Fleischman is a 18-year-old senior at York Prep in Manhattan. He is the creator of the Just Hear No Campaign and has garnered thousands of signatures in support of mandatory consent education in New York City schools. He will be attending Skidmore College in the Fall.

3 Comments

  1. cheryldelp says:

    Good for him!! Education is the the key in so many things. Because of the modern tech a lot of our manners and respect have been lost. The manners may be there, but so many folks have their nose in their phone, that they don’t take the time to interact with the general public, therefore, please, thank you, excuse me have all been lost. I’m quite amazed that their aren’t more accidents! My point is that I think if we are made to be more aware of people and their feelings, like this young man is doing, that things will improve!

  2. Pingback: Two Teen Girls From Iceland Are Schooling The Older Generation On Feminism & Gender Equality - GirlTalkHQ

  3. Pingback: Two Teen Girls From Iceland Are Schooling The Older Generation On Feminism & Gender Equality - GirlTalkHQ

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