Westlake Teen Changes How We Discuss Inequalities of Gender and Sexuality With MVMENT Magazine

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click to enlarge "Bathroom Pass" by Hannah Hachamovitch - Courtesy of MVMENT Magazine
Courtesy of MVMENT Magazine
"Bathroom Pass" by Hannah Hachamovitch

After the unfortunate tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February, young Americans fought back and have started a revolution of teenage activism. But even before the March For Our Lives event took the country by storm, there was MVMENT.

Run by high schoolers and college students, and made specifically for students, MVMENT magazine works to engage readers with personal stories, opinion pieces, investigative journalism, photography, artwork and other media, so that people can become better-equipped in the fight against rape culture, gender inequality and sexuality discrimination.

Vinayak "Vinny" Kurup, an 18-year-old Westlake resident, is the editor-in-chief of MVMENT.

"Our goal is to empower people to share their personal experiences while simultaneously educating people on how to be better allies to combat the inequities that our society has normalized," Kurup tells Scene.

click to enlarge "We’ve Got Diverse Souls" by Reed Herring - Courtesy of MVMENT Magazine
Courtesy of MVMENT Magazine
"We’ve Got Diverse Souls" by Reed Herring

Kurup attends a boarding school on the east coast, and was inspired to start the magazine in response to national news articles discussing campus assaults within boarding school communities.

"The personal privilege I have is that I am a male, I'm from a higher-income family, I attend a boarding school, and short of being white, I'm at the top of the privilege spectrum," Kurup says. "It's important for us to recognize that the LGBTQ+ community, people of color and women in general are marginalized voices that need to be normalized."

Victims of sexual assault come from all races, genders, sexual orientations, gender expressions, religions and socio-economic statuses. While many face risks of assault at higher capacities than others, MVMENT believes that the epidemic is impacting humanity at large.

"You hear a statistic like one in five women will be the victim of an attempted or completed sexual assault or rape by the time they finish undergrad, and that's a massive statistic," Kurup says. "If someone told me that one in five gallons of milk was not milk but rather something else, I'd never drink milk again in my life."

"Whenever we think about these issues, it's never localized. It's always 'somebody else on some other campus in some other place,' and it's treated like a distant problem despite the reality being the total opposite." says Kurup.

"I started to realize that I myself had unknowingly been a proponent of this culture. By remaining silent when someone was called 'gay' as an insult or congratulating a male friend for sleeping around, I was feeding into a culture that thrives in silence and festers due to ignorance. I knew a change needed to be made."

click to enlarge 'Vulnerability' by Brooke Ripley - Courtesy of MVMENT Magazine
Courtesy of MVMENT Magazine
'Vulnerability' by Brooke Ripley

The MVMENT website holds its staff and readers accountable stating, "It is also very possible that the readers, contributors and editors of MVMENT have, at times, perpetuated rape culture. Examining your own role in perpetuating this culture is uncomfortable, but it is vital. We believe that without having these conversations and challenging ourselves, we are allowing this culture to thrive—not by malice, but by ignorance."

click to enlarge "There's Two of Me" by Reed Herring - Courtesy of MVMENT Magazine
Courtesy of MVMENT Magazine
"There's Two of Me" by Reed Herring

Started in the summer of 2016, the online publication geared toward a generation that frequently consumes its news from Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat, MVMENT is also completely coded by the students that run the magazine.

"We wanted to create something that was designed with the user in mind, the user being a high school or college student," says Kurup. "All of our issues are designed mobile first and are meant to look good on a phone. We spent a year working on the infrastructure to make sure this was something people could look at while they were walking around campus, on their commute or sitting in their room."

MVMENT is completely volunteer run, with staff and contributors from schools all over the country.

"Nobody that works with MVMENT gets paid, and there's a purity to what we do," says Kurup. "People participate because it's important to them and they believe in what we're doing. Sometimes people say it's the first time they've ever been given a chance to talk about their experiences, and we take that very seriously."

With two published issues and a third arriving on May 27, MVMENT is always looking for campus ambassadors to continue spreading the message and publication across the country as well as individuals looking to help in other areas.

If you or someone you know is a high-school or college aged student looking to get involved, you can email Vinny directly by clicking here.

To learn more about MVMENT and how to contribute, you can visit their website here. You can also like MVMENT on Facebook and Instagram for updates regarding future issues.

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