Watch Teacher Nicholas Ferroni Flip The Script On Sexism In Congress, With Eye-Opening Results — VIDEO
While the current Congress is one of the most diverse, it is still 80 percent white and 80 percent male, The Washington Post reported last year. This, coupled with the fact that men in Congress are still attempting to tell women what to do with their bodies, makes us wonder what would need to change to stop this from happening. In a new video from Rainn Wilson's media company SoulPancake, teacher and activist Nicholas Ferroni comes up with a possible solution: He flips the script, creating a focus group in which high school boys are the minority, and they are treated like women in Congress. Ferroni's experiment indicates that introducing empathy into policymaking could shine a light on privilege, and make people traditionally in the majority recognize what it feels like to be silenced.
In the video, Ferroni creates a mock class congress. 80 percent of the people in the room are girls, and only 20 percent are boys. He tells the students that they will be voting on new school policies — proposed by people in the class — and it quickly becomes clear that the policies were proposed with the female majority in mind. For example, one policy suggests that girls receive a 21 percent discount on all school-related items. Another policy proposes that girls use lockers on the first floor and boys use those on the second floor so that girls can avoid being harassed between classes.
The boys in the room become visibly upset, and insist that these policies are unfair. But because they make up only 20 percent of the class, the girls in the room easily manage to pass each policy. By turning the tables and putting the boys in a situation where they are the minority, Ferroni attempts to teach them a valuable lesson about what it's like for women to be told what to do by men in power. In doing so, he introduces empathy into the equation. Because the boys in the room are forced to empathize with the women in Congress, they are able to see what privilege looks like when the system no longer offers it to them.
In an interview with HelloGiggles, Ferroni said he wanted the boys in the class to know what it felt like when a majority is allowed to vote on issues that affect the lives of those in the minority. “I have always used social experiments to teach historical and topical lessons, especially after seeing the Blue Eye Brown Eye experiment that an elementary school teacher did in the 1970s," Ferroni told HelloGiggles. "Experience is the best way to learn and we rarely understand something until it happens to us. So I do powerful experiments to teach my students about history, discrimination, and topical issues, and they are so effective.”
By being placed in a position where their voices and votes don't have much impact, the boys in Ferroni's class are able to express why the gender gap in the room feels unfair to them. "I feel like women in Congress feel how I felt," one boy said. "I felt kind of unmatched."
Ferroni concluded by explaining to the class that the makeup of Congress was the opposite of the gender dynamic present in the classroom. By changing the narrative, this experiment allowed Ferroni to render privilege visible. Maybe Congress won't be conducting a similar experiment any time soon to make male politicians more open-minded, but if these high school students are the country's future lawmakers, then hopefully they'll know how important empathy can be when it comes to making decisions about people's lives and livelihoods.