CW: Sexual Harassment, Strong Language, Rape
Growing up in the era of Gossip Girl and Grand Theft Auto, date rapes and slutshaming were the norm. Healthy relationships were hidden from us under innuendo and scheming. Our understanding of relationships both sexual and platonic was built on stories of revenge, jealousy, and distrust. Our understanding of our bodies and budding sexuality was often that we had something to protect and hide for as long as humanly possible, that our bodies were dangers to our own livelihood and could be hurt at any time. We were taught to keep our guard up- to protect ourselves. As women, we were taught to treat sex like a gift we should be weary to give away while young men were taught to take what they could get. One thing is for sure, we were all using language to describe our experience (or lack thereof) that likely, we barely understood, using it as social currency to prove just how grown up we could pretend to me.
This week we're sharing a Bat Mitzvah story from artist Rebecca Woldin and interviews from two young men, Saul Backer, and Yaari Nadav Tal, about their experiences as perpetrators of sexual harassment and toxic masculinity in Jewish youth spaces and teenage spaces in general. These conversations were had in the context of our deep personal friendships with these young men in the hopes of creating a more constructive dialogue about the way men treat and perceive the women in their lives. We hope that this process makes us stronger, smarter, and more capable of having these conversations every day.
Check out a copy of the sample letter we used to prompt this conversations with our friends here.