Celebrating Advocacy

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, advocacy is “the act or process of supporting a cause or proposal,” and being an ally means “to join (yourself) with another person, group, etc., in order to get or give support.” Both related terms are important for social justice movements because they are reliant on these types of actions from participants. So how does one become an ally or advocate for feminism and related gender justice issues?

Vlogger Chescaleigh has an excellent array of videos about issues such as white privilege and allyship, including “5 Tips for Being an Ally”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dg86g-QlM0 Her tips include: becoming aware of your privilege, listening and raising your awareness, speaking up but not over marginalized communities and individuals, apologizing when you make mistakes, and remembering that ally is an action or verb.

As individuals become aware of their privilege and the challenges that others face, immersion or learning about discrimination and other effects can inspire a desire to integrate or become an activist. Social activists can work behind the scenes (like voting or donating), on the sidelines (attending events), or becoming directly involved (leading or participating in an event). For more specific information, see: http://www.uky.edu/Diversity/iamdiversityky/curriculum/community/allydevelopmentmodel.pdf. Social activism can therefore include the following (from “Five Approaches to Social Justice Activism” at http://edchange.org/handouts.html): celebrating diversity through activities and events, donating to movements or causes, individual changes for those around you, volunteerism, and efforts toward systemic reform.

One part of being an ally means being willing to intervene as a bystander. For example, the White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault describes the importance of bystander intervention in helping to reduce gender violence. Along with this type of prevention strategy, you can also be an advocate for survivors on an individual or campus-wide scale. For more information about the work that this task force does, you can check our their website (https://www.notalone.gov/) or report (https://www.notalone.gov/assets/report.pdf).

Specific intervention strategies devised at ISU are included in the following handout:

Harassment Intervention Strategies

Being an advocate as a bystander and a friend can be challenging. Organizations, such as Step Up, provide resources and even scripts to help you help others with the empathy and support they need (http://stepupprogram.org/students/strategies-for-effective-helping/#formula):

The 5 Point Formula.png

The most important step in these cases is to show that as you support the person in need, seeking professional guidance is also vital. Taking them to ISU Counseling Services (http://www.counseling.iastate.edu/), safe spaces like Margaret Sloss Women’s Center (http://www.mswc.dso.iastate.edu/support), and/or helping them get in touch with individuals at the Assault Care Center Extending Shelter & Support, ACCESS, in Ames (https://www.assaultcarecenter.org/), can all be life-changing interventions.

As the break approaches and celebrations incur, you too can be an ally for those around you. Whether it’s catching up on some reading/listening about what is occurring around you (like at the University of Missouri), planning to attend or participate in events (such as the Vagina Monologues), joining groups (including LUCHA – Latinos Unidos for Change), and/or being willing to show up for and support friends and family, you can make a difference. And what better time to start then now!

by Sarah C


About Margaret Sloss Women's Center - ISU

The Margaret Sloss Women's Center promotes equity on the Iowa State University campus. Through a feminist lens, the center advocates for individuals and groups; provides support, referrals, community and programming; and maintains a safe space in the Sloss House.

Posted on November 30, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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