Just this week, Know Your IX, a fantastic new anti-sexual-violence campaign, was launched into the Great Wide World of the Interwebs. Know Your IX seeks to educate college students across the United States about their rights under Title IX, a law that prohibits universities and colleges from gender-based discrimination (it’s more than just sports, y’all). Know Your IX has created a digital repository for related information. In addition to providing plainly worded summaries of federal laws, Know Your IX empowers college students by sharing survivor-activists’ advice, from the best practices for campus change, to weighing the pros and cons of taking legal action, to dealing with the myriad issues that confront survivor-activists.
A Know Your IX contributor myself, I was humbled to click through and read the brilliant pieces written by other Know Your IX-ers. And I have been thrilled to see key constituents of the anti-sexual violence movement greet Know Your IX with open and welcoming arms. However, my excitement for this campaign extends well beyond my own involvement. Know Your IX marks an innovative step in the fight to eradicate rape on America’s college campus, as it features crowd-sourced testimony from the very people who are at the front lines of this movement. The result? A campaign that empowers change-making millennial writers and readers across the country.
As Know Your IX frequently reminds its readers, most of the site's contributors are not lawyers or experts. Rather than a liability, I find the student survivor-activists' perspectives to be the campaign’s greatest strength. One of Know Your IX's codirectors, Alexandra Brodsky, told me that, “there are a lot of organizations with far greater legal and political expertise than we have, but what Know Your IX has to offer is that this collective is able to address common issues that are often overlooked by those who aren't on the ground.” This direct perspective results in articles about how to build support networks, deal with school retaliation, and cope with activist burnout and self care, concerns that might not be obvious to someone who lacks first-hand experience. While organizations like the National Women’s Law Center and the ACLU feature Title IX resources, Know Your IX can address questions about the day-to-day experience of survivor-activist life.
In line with its grassroots philosophy, Know Your IX seeks to confront the stereotypes of a, "'default' survivor who is a white, straight, able-bodied, legally documented, wealthy cis woman.” Know Your IX includes articles about how to deal with prejudice as a male survivor, how to handle homophobia, resources that address sexual violence's intersection with immigration status, and advice on contending with administrative and intramovement racism. The site also provides advice on how Title IX can protect trans* students. Know Your IX has successfully provided a resource for all college students. Encouraging widespread, collaborative action by people with diverse gender identities and expressions, sexualities, classes, races, and nationalities is one of the strongest strategies in the campaign to abolish sexual violence. After all, as the Department of Education states “anyone who believes there has been an act of discrimination on the basis of sex against any person or group in a program or activity that receives [Department of Education] financial assistance may file a complaint.”
Excitingly, Know Your IX bridges a gap between digital resources and real-world activism. Its web presence acknowledges the importance of online networks in the current movement. According to Brodsky, “We always conceived of the campaign as an online project, in large part because that's where almost all of us connected in the first place. As a social media campaign and website, Know Your IX can reach people beyond our limited set of campuses and quickly respond to visitors' feedback.”
Interested in joining the cause? Sign up here to become a member of the Know Your IX Action Team and help spread the word. In addition to spreading its message via social media, Know Your IX encourages survivor-activists to place ads in their campus papers or to poster their campus with Title IX fact sheets. By providing guides on how to engage with activism beyond sharing or tweeting, Know Your IX encourages visitors to transform their own campuses and communities. Know Your IX’s media awareness also extends to advice on how to harness the media for the movement, and advice on avoiding being misrepresented in the media.
Know Your IX is taking a new step toward empowering survivor-activists through educating students on their federal civil right to keep campuses free of sexual violence, and giving students tested strategies with which to implement change. Students are reaching out to other students, and building a resource that is well-researched, decidedly relevant, and in step with current trends in digital activism. But don’t just take my word for it. Learn to know your IX here.