Young people share their stories on why they became Stand Up! Ambassadors and what this means to them
Mary Ellen McIntyre's Story
Beautiful. Skinny. Sexy. Voluptuous. Perfect. Even at 16, I recognise that these are the qualities which you must possess to be a “proper” woman. But before I started working as a Stand Up! Ambassador, I didn’t recognise that sexual violence, and the inequalities and misogynism that go hand in hand with it, are round every corner.
The definition of rape is not something that happens down a dark alley between a drunken woman and a stranger. And the definition of sexual abuse is flexible too – in fact, it’s something that happens way more often that society would care to acknowledge.
For example – a young woman, still in her teens, walking down a street in the middle of the day. When she gets suggestive comments called out to her - that’s sexual abuse. It may be brushed off as flattery, or as a compliment. Call it what you like, street harassment is sexual violence. Why, in 2015, do people still fail to realise that?
People of all genders are stereotyped the moment they’re born, whether they’re wrapped in pink or blue. Men are expected to be powerful, strong and always in control, whilst women are supposed to be good-looking sex objects who obediently obey their partners. And those who don’t identify with either gender don’t matter at all.
Just look at adverts we see on TV, music we listen to and magazines we read. What kind of images are they portraying to the next generation – MY generation? And how can we stop our minds being poisoned in this way?
With Stand Up!, our message is clear. It’s time to speak out and speak loud – to stand up against sexual violence in all forms. Only once we start sending out a different message, once we start realising it’s OK for men to cry and women to be more than pretty, then will we be better equipped to fight against abuse. And it’s a fight we all need to start today – so that the next generation of youngsters will be able to grow up in a world where they feel free to be who they want – strong, capable, confident, and free.
- Written by Mary Ellen McIntyre, 17
Megan Lowson's Story
The world is good in the way that many of us appreciate and accept each other for what and who we are, but cruel in the way that it makes us think that to be a certain way is unacceptable. Or to look and be different makes someone unfit for specific career paths, or particular problems don't exist and never happen or even just simply shaming because someone does not meet society's standards.
As someone who is a young person in society and has always considered and deemed things like rape, sexual abuse and inequality things that should never happen, when I heard about RASASH and how I would be able to become a volunteer Ambassador I immediately made the decision that I would do it. People avoid the subject of the likes of rape and sexual abuse as it's seen as a "touchy subject" to the majority (to an extent, to those who have experienced it, it is) but not in the way many make it out to be.
I came to be an ambassador, not only for the experience it will give to me but for the fact I am one of many who want to spread the word about how nobody should turn the other way or avoid this subject or any other type of problem, because people are led to believe things like this don't happen in small cities and towns, when it has more than likely happened plenty more times than once in the very city you live in.
I want people to know that no one was "asking for it" when they wore short shorts or any other item of ‘exposing’ clothing. No one was "asking for it" when they got too drunk and nobody was saying "persuade me" when they said no. I have also always wanted to spread another word, which is that nobody was born to live up to society’s standards, you weren't born to be judged by someone else, you were born to be an individual. You don't have to be what the media and places like Hollywood define as "perfect" to be described as it.
Some said I was "too young" to understand and to be speaking about such subjects, but I will always stand up for what I believe and lend a hand in any way possible to show what I believe should and shouldn't happen. I joined to spread the word of why rape, sexual abuse and inequality shouldn't be happening. If you would like to become a 'Stand Up!' Ambassador you can find all the information you need, along with an application form on the RASASH website.
- Written by Megan Lowson
Welcome to the Stand Up! platform for young people's voices from across the Scottish Highlands.
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