Finalist 2016: Areej Hassan, TAS
Name: Areej Hassan
Community, State: Burnie, TAS
School: Marist Regional College
Age: 17, Grade 11
Why is gender equality important to you and your community?
Why is gender equality essential for me and my community? My answer changes every week. Today, this haiku succinctly embodies my reasons.
If only we could
be remembered for our brains
Not our genitals
My school recently held a women empowerment session, discussing the undermined and overly-sexualised portrayal of females in the media and daily life. This was held in the wake of the incident in which naked photos of school girls were spread on the internet. It was a ghastly nation-wide affair which had even affected us on the North-West coast of Tasmania. After receiving this enlightening presentation, I was startled when I overheard a few male peers having a cackle about how ridiculous it was. I guess educating teenagers about exploited females was a joke to them. Even if a scanty amount of students thought this way, it was still disheartening. It exhibited how we still have a bumpy road ahead of us to reach gender equality, where women are uniformly esteemed as men.
The fact that nude pictures of women were leaked and spread around like hot items on the market, was sickening. This dangerous mentality gives birth to so many crimes against girls. Forcing their clothing choices, sexual harassment, rape and eventually murder. If a woman doesn’t dress according to the ever-changing patriarchal standards, she has to receive the blame for every wrong-doing against her. Men can describe women like they are pieces of meat and use their bodies to advertise their products but God forbid they ever breast feed in public. Then their self-dignity is in question. Wearing modest clothing and a headscarf? No wonder you are oppressed. Clad in a mini dress? No wonder you got raped. We girls should have the right to grow up in a community which sees us for more than what we wear and look like.
If we could only shift the energy people use in pointing fingers to educating those who hold such mindsets, we can be so much closer to reaching equality in our communities. This warped perception of how boys need to enact their masculinity by undermining and sexualising girls is perilous. Apparently, one can only reach manhood when they’ve cat-called enough women on their street. Both sexes need to be in the picture to fight this toxic attitude of the society. Only then we can get a hold on the golden rope of gender equity.