Welcome to Teaching Feminism, a series about equality in the classroom. Teaching feminism is about so much more than teaching girls. We need to teach all of our students to respect everyone, no matter what. Teaching feminism talks about just that. Have your own story about these issues? Share it here.
Feminism should be taught in school.
In every class from English to history, math to science, parenting to auto mechanics, there is room for feminism. It could be something as grand as teaching about women’s roles in history to something as simple as asserting that girls can work on cars, too, but it should be a part of every class, every day.
Historically, women — and other oppressed groups — have been marginalized. Literally. We have been relegated to boxes in the margins of textbooks as if to say, “This is what the women were doing back at home while the men were off at war. It fits into this little box which must mean that it wasn’t that important and it won’t be on the test.” Imagine what that does to the self-esteem of the girls seated in the classroom.
Teaching feminism is important for many, many reasons. First, studying feminism can “reinvigorate girls’ sense of self-worth and to help pupils think about the gender implications of their language and image.” Second, as of this 2008 study, 84% of girls said that they are under an enormous amount of pressure to dress the right way. That was up from 75% in 2000. Third, and perhaps scariest of all, is that girls are starting to accept sexual assault and sexual harassment at school as a way of life.
Incorporating feminism in the classroom is so much more than doing a lesson about the Suffragettes. It’s about showing girls that they matter, too, by giving them books written by women. It’s about teaching boys to respect women. It’s about encouraging girls to take math and science classes. It’s about privileging the voices and fostering the interests of all of the students in the classroom, regardless of gender.
The study of feminism is also intersectional with other topics. It isn’t just about women, but about all oppressed groups. Teaching feminism in the classroom is not only about women; it’s about civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and rights for people with disabilities just to name a few. Teaching respect and acceptance of all people is teaching feminism.
If we can incorporate feminism in the classroom, the benefits would be endless. Men would be taught to respect women, making sexual assault and sexual harassment in schools a thing of the past. Women would follow their passions rather than what society wants of them. Bullying would virtually disappear because respect and acceptance would triumph.
I feel very passionately about teaching feminism in my classroom, and that is why I’ve started this series. In it, I will tackle topics such as boy books vs. girl books, gendered dress codes, gender issues in literature, and much more. If you have suggestions for stories based on this topic, feel free to share them here, and stay tuned. I hope you enjoy reading the series.
Photo Credit: Kashirin Nickolai