Please join us in applauding RVA volunteer, Nikhil Trivedi, for being a recipient of UN Women-Chicago Chapter’s inaugural Gender Equality Award – this award aims to recognize local men who embody the spirit of UN Women’s global HeForShe campaign.
RVA nominated Nikhil for the wide range of work he does in support of our organization. Nikhil has completed over 75 hours of training on the issue of sexual assault. He helped push our volunteer medical advocacy program forward by collaborating on a program for male volunteers. His dedication to male accountability drives him to facilitate trainings and workshops on behalf of our organization – he is also a part of our Men in the Movement discussion series planning team. Through all this, Nikhil continues to approach his work from a feminist and survivor-centered perspective.
Nikhil is a great advocate for social justice and we are proud to call him one of our volunteers.
Thank you so much to the Chicago Chapter of the US National Committee for UN Women. I’m grateful for this amazing honor. Over these next few minutes I’m going to be a little vulnerable and share a part of my past that I don’t usually share with strangers I meet in bars. But I want to show you what’s at the root of all the anti-sexism, anti-rape work that I do. To push men, and more broadly people on the power side of oppressive relationships, so show ourselves. To be radically honest and vulnerable as action towards dismantling oppression, smashing patriarchy, and ending rape culture.
When I was very, very young I was present when someone close to me was sexually assaulted. Throughout my young life, people around me learned about what happened, processed their own traumas, and I saw the devastating impacts of sexual violence all around me every day. Even though I was too young to even have words at the time, let alone to intervene, I grew up feeling powerless and guilty for being a bystander who I felt should have done more. I was scared and confused about the man I would become, about what masculinity and manhood would mean for my life. I always considered myself a feminist and aligned myself with radical work, but at some point I realized that if I wasn’t actively working to end sexism and male domination in myself, in my relationships and in my communities, I was supporting an oppressive status quo. This is what led to my deep, passionate commitment to end all forms of violence in all the communities that I’m a part of.
In my museum communities, I encourage my colleagues to dig into our institution’s histories and identify ways we may have benefited from traumatic communal histories, like slavery, genocide, colonialism and war. I train my colleagues on anti-oppression frameworks so that we can work towards dismantling oppression within ourselves, our relationships, and our institutions. I train folks similarly in my tech communities, and have been published with some of my thinking on how we can support survivors of trauma through the tech products we build every day. And I’m so proud of the work I do with Rape Victim Advocates locally here in Chicago, in a city that’s doing some of the most radical, intersectional work in the world. If you have cis or trans men in your life who are interested in being a part of anti-rape movements, please encourage them to join one of our monthly Men in the Movement discussions. Follow RVA on Facebook, and you come along too, all genders are always welcome.
All the activism work I do feels like it’s in such niche communities that I’m surprised when people know about me and my work, let alone honor me with an award like this. I’m deeply humbled and honored to be recognized by the Chicago Chapter of the US National Committee for UN Women. Working to end sexism and male domination often feels so overwhelming, I’m thankful for the opportunity to step back and feel proud of all that I’ve accomplished. I thank the chapter, its members, Lagunitas, and everyone involved in making this fabulous event possible. Thank you very much.