Through her books and speaking engagements, Rosalind Wiseman has a clear objective: creating a culture of dignity both on campus and off.
“Dignity in Latin is ‘to be worthy,’” Wiseman tells SFR. "The way that I define that is that everyone has the right to have their voice heard, and you can’t strip that away from people.”
“The reality,” she continues on the sentiment, “is that people have rights, but other people try to take away those rights all the time based on your nationality, the color of your skin, your gender, your sexual orientation, what language you speak…there are all these ways that people can strip another person of their dignity.”
Wiseman’s journey to empowerment began after graduating college when she began teaching martial arts to young women. After hearing their concerns of cliques, body image, boys and gossip, she wrote Queen Bees and Wannabes, which would later be cinematically adapted by Tina Fey into 2004’s Mean Girls.
The author discusses bullying and how to create a safer, more inclusive school environment Wednesday evening at The Lensic.
A positive outlook for kids and teens, Wiseman says, starts not with the captain of the cheerleader team or the school jock, but with the grownups that surround them.
“What I aim to try and do in the communities and the schools that I’ve worked is to really challenge adults to be very mindful and ask themselves uncomfortable questions about how we as adults contribute to a culture of dignity in a school or in our communities where our children are, and how sometimes we ask children to do things that we are not willing to do ourselves.”
Things like reporting bullying and doing the right thing.
“We have to ask, ‘Are we really being consistent?’ and not just to ourselves but to [other] adults in the community,” she explains.
Open dialogue and all, Wiseman is quick to point out that bullying shouldn’t be labeled an “epidemic.”
“I hate that word,” she says. “I don’t love the word ‘bullying’ either. I think that using those kinds of words really distract us from being able to create healthy communities.”
“Conflict is inevitable among people,” she finalizes, “and so my job is to be able to help young people navigate that conflict and abuse of power in the best way possible.”
QUEEN BEES & MASTERMINDS