Welcome to Heads Up, a blogging experiment that aims to:
- connect the people, parts, and principles of Durham Academy;
- share ideas about learning and human development;
- spotlight a few of the many wondrous things I get to see every day at Durham Academy.
Thanks for reading the posts below — and sending news, links and ideas worth sharing.
Michael Ulku-Steiner, Head of School
Girls, sticks, stones, and real men and women
Intended as a compliment and taken as a clueless chunk of sexist residue, the comment is, sadly, all too common.
Even well-meaning, feminist dads-of-sporty-daughters like me can parrot the language we inherit from our culture - and do insidious damage to the psyches of our girls . . . and our boys.
Knowing that quick antidotes are rarely sufficient, our Upper School is focusing several of its social and emotional learning activities on gender this year. On October 9, we’ll host Jean Kilbourne for a parent coffee, followed by an assembly for students and faculty. Dr. Kilbourne focuses on the sexualization of children, tobacco and alcohol advertising, and commercial culture. Her own website link is above. Here’s the link to her TED Talk.
Upper School Dean of Students Lindy Frasher and Dance Teacher Laci McDonald started a “Girl Power” discussion group last spring. They met several times with the main goal of clarifying and taking steps to address some of the particular difficulties girls face at the Upper School. That student/faculty group will plan several awareness-raising activities this year.
In recent years our students have heard from:
Katie Koestner - the first date rape survivor to speak out nationally, a renowned student safety and wellness expert whose testimony on Capitol Hill was instrumental in the passage of federal student safety legislation
Two years ago I challenged the NFL community and all men to seriously confront the problem of domestic violence, especially coming on the heels of the murder-suicide of Kansas City Chiefs football player Jovan Belcher and his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins. Yet, here we are again dealing with the same issue of violence against women.
Now let’s be clear, this problem is bigger than football. There has been, appropriately so, intense and widespread outrage following the release of the video showing what happened inside the elevator at the casino. But wouldn’t it be productive if this collective outrage, as my colleagues have said, could be channelled to truly hear and address the long-suffering cries for help by so many women? And as they said, do something about it? Like an on-going education of men about what healthy, respectful manhood is all about.
And it starts with how we view women. Our language is important. For instance, when a guy says, ‘you throw the ball like a girl’ or ‘you’re a little sissy,’ it reflects an attitude that devalues women and attitudes will eventually manifest in some fashion. Women have been at the forefront in the domestic violence awareness and prevention arena. And whether Janay Rice considers herself a victim or not, millions of women in this country are.
Consider this: According to domestic violence experts, more than three women per day lose their lives at the hands of their partners. That means that since the night February 15th in Atlantic City [when the elevator incident occurred] more than 600 women have died.
So this is yet another call to men to stand up and take responsibility for their thoughts, their words, their deeds and as Deion [Sanders] says to give help or to get help, because our silence is deafening and deadly.
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