This past month, TAASA (Texas Association Against Sexual Assault) launched a new media campaign called Break the Box. The goal of the campaign is to highlight the connection between gender stereotypes and sexual violence.
For those of you not as familiar with the prevention lingo, here is what that means: Society has created these invisible boxes of what a man or a lady should be like/look like/act like. Imagine I tell you to “be a man” or to “man up”- what does that look like? Imagine I tell you to “act like a lady”- what should you be doing; what should you not be doing? Now pretend you are not all of those things in that box and you want to step outside of it. Once you step outside of the box, are you treated fairly? Often, when someone steps outside of that box, there are many violent verbal and physical repercussions. As preventioneers, we want to communicate that its ok to be inside of the box if that is what you choose; but its also ok to be outside of the box! What is NOT ok is when we are criticized for being inside or outside of that box. YOU (not society) get to choose who you want to be! The all-encompassing point is, when we label someone as ‘other’ or ‘less than’ it is a lot easier to be violent towards others. When we all agree that being inside or outside of those boxes is totally OK, it’s a lot harder to be violent towards others.
To foster this conversation, TAASA will be featuring their video add in movie theaters in Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin. The 30 or 60 second adds shows several different examples of people breaking down that box that society tries to put us in. This past week, during my lesson on gender roles, I showed my students the campaign to ask their opinion. Some students mentioned that they wished they could hear what the people in the scenarios were thinking when others were ‘putting them in the boxes’ or that they wished they could see more of the story. Overall, they agreed that it would definitely spark conversations around what gender stereotypes meant. Big round of applause to TAASA for creating this amazing campaign that will help us put a stop to violence!