I’m passionate about doing good. Every one of us has a great opportunity to give back at any stage of our lives. Whether it’s through being there for someone in hard times, lending a helping hand in crisis or passing on information, lessons learned and knowledge, we can always find ways to give back. One of my ways to do just that is being part of a great initiative at its very start. I’ve known Deborah Campbell, the founder of Future Fe+Male, since we did an interview in ESTILA Volume 3 on her namesake atelier. Over the past couple of years, her story has shifted in a slightly different direction and I’ve been involved by being on the Future Fe+Male advisory board.
Here is her story:
In the spring of 2017 I had the idea for “Future Female”, because I’d become hyper aware and uncomfortable of how sexist everyday language is. Not just for girls and women but for boys and men. Language like “stop screeching like a girl” or “crying like a girl”, and “man up”. This language impacts how young children view each other. Often it demeans females, by dismissing these emotions as somehow weak, and encourages males to avoid emotion. Is it any wonder, as reported by the Samaritans that male suicide rates are so high? Lack of male emotion was not what I wanted for my then, 8 year old son, I want him to grow up knowing it’s okay to cry, okay to show his feelings and be vulnerable when he needs to. And to respect girls and women’s boundaries, through understanding what it’s like to feel vulnerable and communicate vulnerability.
I also found myself asking what if every day habitual sexism is less about tackling the extremes, and more about identifying the everyday language peppered with sexist stereotypes? Is it this seemingly normal language that’s created the foundation for the bigger issues to manifest, like toxic masculinity; domestic abuse; suicide; and mental health challenges? And, what if humans are trapped by everyday sexism because it’s in plain sight, it’s unseen? So how do we go about seeing “the unseen”, and more importantly, calling it out when we hear it and see it?
For a change to be made, I wish to see humans taking responsibility for the societal shift in order to achieve everyday equality to manifest. Through raising awareness via education, I believe we can make the leap.
As we are in the early stages of our movement, we created a blog platform where everyday habitual sexism can be discussed and everyday equality can be promoted. Raising awareness by building a community of female and male voices to take responsibility in the pursuit for equality, rather than the equality debate falling to women to rise up and champion change, led us to adapt our name to Future Fe+Male, a brilliant idea from branding expert and FF advisory board member Karolina Barnes. Last year Future Fe+Male grew through the formation of an advisory board, helping FF develop further.
Future Fe+Male is about humans taking responsibility and being the change. Engaging humans who are stuck in societal patterns that perpetuate inequality is the challenge. Seeing and hearing how everyday language is peppered with everyday habitual sexism and wanting to do something about it is the first step and the most challenging one. Myself and Future Fe+Male advisory board members hope that through the collaboration with Anthropologie, our podcast ‘Born Equal’ and the development of an everyday sexism tool kit, we can can start making the changes and have a positive impact on the way we behave towards each other.
EQUALITY SHOULD BE TAUGHT IN SCHOOLS
One of our main missions is to create an education toolkit for schools, primary and secondary, to roll out so we can shift and change the narrative. We are talking to a number of teachers who lead in the field of equality and passionately advocate the discussion within their own classrooms and schools, our aim is to work with them for a successful roll out.
Deborah’s mission is so powerful and encouraging at the same time. We need to be talking more about sexism, language we use and how we behave towards each other. As Deborah mentioned, she recently collaborated with Anthropologie with a 5 piece limited edition slogan tee-shirt collection to spread the Future Fe+Male message. You can check them out here.
If you love listening to podcasts, listen to the newly launched The Born Equal podcast.
Cover photo: from our shoot for ESTILA Special edition, which is available for viewing on this link.