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“Champions of Women” Are Part of The Problem

I think we all know who we’re talking about.

The “only good one”, the one man you’d feel safe in a room alone with, the performative activist. We build them up and give them awards and positions so they can speak for us. The male saviors. The men that “care” about women’s issues. 

It took me a long time to push myself to write this article. After all, it’s hard to criticize someone that everyone loves. It’s also hard to criticize someone who frames themself as this perfect person.

But it’s time we talk about them– the “Champions of Women”.

When we reprimand performative activists, the fingers are always pointing at women. Don’t get me wrong, women can be performative activists and reposted infographics aren’t going to solve the world’s issues, but we not only let men get off free of criticism, we push them up because the bar is simply that low. 

As a survivor, it’s frustrating to see men who say they’re going to make a change do nothing while my voice is silenced. It’s frustrating to see other women like me feeling silenced just the same. It took a lot out of me to finally start sharing my story, but I thought that using my voice might make a change.

However, when I’ve tried to speak about actual solutions to campus sexual assault, I’ve been brushed off and replaced by percentage nights and false promises.

Raising money is important. Raising awareness is important. But there is a serious ethical problem with garnering false trust by “fighting for” women. I’ve fallen for the trap. And I am dealing with the consequences. It’s so heartbreaking when someone capitalizes off your fear of being hurt and pretends that they’re your savior and you believe them. I believed him. 

So, it’s time to start pushing up the voices that will make real change. Raise the bar for men. If we keep praising them for doing the bare minimum, they won’t aim any higher. There are many voices on campus that are fighting for real change from personal experience and we should be acknowledging them. 

To the “Champions of Women”: I see you. You’re not getting away with this as a hero. But I know you can do better. Life is about choices. You can wake up with the best intentions and still step on people because of the choices you make. So if you are one of the men exploiting women’s issues for power on campus and beyond, it’s time to pass the mic.

This is not your turn to talk.
Rachel is studying political science, marketing, and public policy at the University of Alabama, pursuing a career in civil rights law and politics. When she's not busy with school and writing, she advocates for survivors of interpersonal violence through work at the Women and Gender Resource Center and her organization, End The Silence. In her free time, she runs, spends time outdoors, and watches bad tv.
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