To The Men of Shaker Heights

Don’t congratulate yourselves too soon; there is work to be done

Shaker has definitely taken a great leap forward since 2013, but we can’t congratulate ourselves yet.

On Feb. 26, a Twitter user released a bracket that ranked 9th- through 12th-grade Shaker women according to their attractiveness. Thankfully, the response from Shaker students, staff and parents was swift and strong. No one could scroll or swipe through any social media app this past week without seeing people of all genders condemning the bracket.

However, the boys and men of Shaker Heights shouldn’t congratulate themselves too quickly.

We must ask ourselves, what did we do to create an environment that would allow someone to post such a list in the first place? What was it that made that person think that Shaker boys were willing to excuse such blatant misogyny?

The answer is that we excuse bigotry and hatred daily. Shaker boys, how many of you have heard words like “pussy” and “fa**ot” flung across the hallway? How many of you have heard your friends make racist, misogynistic or homophobic comments? How many of you have been uncomfortable when they made these jokes?  How many of you have remained silent anyway?

So what emboldened you to respond this time?

What emboldened me was seeing those around me respond. It was Mr. Juli sending a district-wide email entitled “STOP,” in which he implored students to stop sending the screenshots to one another. It was students flooding Snapchat and Instagram. It was teachers discussing it in their classes. It was parents on Facebook.

Humans are social beings. We are afraid to act unless we know that others are standing behind us. The problem is, someone has to be the one to take the first step. Too often, none of us do.

Not a single person has reacted as drastically as you … dude, seriously, take a chill pill.

— Anonymous Comment on Shane McKeon's 2013 Story

In 2013, when an anonymous Twitter user released a similar list titled, “Shaker’s Top Ten,” almost no one spoke up. In fact, when Shakerite Print Editor in Chief Shane McKeon released an op-ed condemning that list, the creator of the list anonymously commented, “not a single person has reacted as drastically as you. If it will help you sleep at night you should know that the lists were taken down. Whatever I have done to offend you, I apologize for. But dude, seriously, take a chill pill.”

This sentiment, that the women we attend school with daily do not deserve any dignity, is a sentiment that is thoroughly entrenched in the culture of Shaker boys. It is almost impossible to condemn misogyny in Shaker without being told that you are overreacting, that you need to “take a chill pill.” That is why those who do care never speak up.

If Shaker wants to truly change, the boys and men in this district need to speak up not just when brackets are released publicly, but when those they know make comments like this in private conversations. 

Do not let the response to this bracket be an anomaly.

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