From the Base
Challenging boys on assumed attitudes
All of us need our frame of reference challenged. The attitudes and assumptions we take on because of our own experience AND what society tells us is the norm, form our frame of reference. For example, my assumption that Winchester is a friendly, welcoming place is based on my experience and what people say to me about it, however, I should not assume this is the same experience for others.
Recently, there has been increased discussion about young women feeling unsafe on the streets of our towns and cities. Being afraid to walk home has been the lived experience of many women for a long time. Yet men often do not share this same feeling. In fact, some men are not even aware of this, or shrug it off as being minor or unimportant.
We must challenge these attitudes. It's not enough to teach boys and young men how to look after themselves and be safe. They need to understand that the life experiences of others may not be the same as theirs.
And why should we challenge these assumptions? Because that's the start of changing attitudes that lead to changes in behaviour. Why do women feel unsafe on the streets? Because they ARE unsafe, at times.
This is not saying that all men are bad or represent a danger to others. This is about restarting the conversation about what is happening in the world and why. If young men understand the lived experiences of women in this regard, they will be better placed to help make the changes that need to be made.
If we all challenge our frame of reference on a regular basis, we will change attitudes. And a change in behaviour comes from a change in attitudes and beliefs.
We all have a role to play - and if you think not, I'm already challenging you.