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Teaching Feminism: Why Should We?

Teaching Feminism: Why Should We?

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.

Related Stories:

Dispatches from the War on Women: Poor Women Have No Choice

“To Educate Girls, Use Feminist Approach” Says Educating Girls Conference

Introducing Students to White Privilege

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Photo Credit: Kashirin Nickolai

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55 comments

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11:37AM PDT on Jul 13, 2012

In my University class we study people who have changed the worls: the students choose who they ant to BE, and dress up and tell the story of that person. Logiacally, girls are women, boys- guys, its iNCREDIBLE to hear the womens´stories about what they did and HOW they did it!!!! It`s one of our favorite days!!!! One day a girtl decides to represent sufragettes. Period!

8:23AM PDT on Jul 13, 2012

John B - i'm sorry but that is garbage. the whole society is slanted towards men. the "more equal " thing only happens when both start in the same place, and you give one side more than the other.
but we don't start in the same place, John. you get paid 20% more for doing the same work, just because you have a cock.
when men and women live together, both work the same hours, but the women work for much less, then the man comes home and sits down, while the women does his house work and then she does hers. she shops for his food, and then hers, prepares it, serves it to him like he is a little lord, and then cleans it up afterwards. the same is true for child care. they are 50% his children, but if he won't even scrub his own crap out of the toilet, he certainly won't scrub the kids. or shop for their food, or clean their clothes, or bodies, or the home they live in. it's his work, but she does it because he thinks it is beneath him.
and John, that is just pay and the home. we haven't even touched on the entire rest of society. you may not know it, or like to admit it, but you have male privilege, just as i have white privilege. i believe anti-racism should be taught in school, and we should all be made aware of how we participate in racism even if we don't know it. only then can we stop it. the same is true for how women are treated. it isn't giving them more John, it is an attempt to give them what they always should have had, that has been kept from them.

11:35PM PDT on Jul 12, 2012

I agree that Feminism should be taught in our schools..Respect of others needs to become a value that more people gravitate towards. Stereotypes don't help anyone. Personally I'm a Humanist and feel respect is always a two way street...anyway Ive been waiting to hear that the men would start their own Men's Liberation Movement ..in the '80's I read some books by Robert Bly and Sam Keen that I thought were powerfully written..... All we beautiful human kind need room to bloom...!!

11:16PM PDT on Jul 12, 2012

I disagree with the author as I see that humanity has to be taught to all humankind. When one creates differences between men and women as though they should be in some battle they get their wish.
What needs to be stressed is basic human rights for all. Take each individual as a part of humankind and get that accepted before you start trying to make men or women "more equal".

8:55PM PDT on Jul 12, 2012

that is really a good idea that must be implemented

7:20PM PDT on Jul 12, 2012

Teaching feminism is needed so that women will not become the Republican Stepford Wives and vote for candidates who legislate against their rights and interests.

6:20PM PDT on Jul 12, 2012

I think more needs to be done to address respect and equality for all people, to teach boys to be comfortable and secure with their gender, but I've seen a lot that makes me think an awful lot of men don't understand why feminism still exists. Sadly, many men seem to think feminism is all about achieving domination based purely on gender, and don't understand what the issues truly are. Sadly, many women don't either and have to find out the hard way as they get older. Gender shouldn't be an issue. But sadly, it is. There are issues which men face which are unique or which are amplified for males, just as there are for females. We all need to learn how to treat eachother better instead of life constantly being a power struggle and about dominating others using whatever means we have. Meeting people's needs should have a higher priority.

5:12PM PDT on Jul 12, 2012

As long as boys also feel that they can be heard and that they can openly share their issues and problems, like the girls can. I think there are issues that boys face in the classroom that also need to be addressed, such as defining what real masculinity and feminism is and isn't which our media distorts. It's mainly boys that are having problems in school, not being able to keep up with the girls, getting into trouble, etc. More and more boys are lagging behind girls so that college enrollment is nearly 60% female and 40% male. So many more boys are dropping out, ending up in jail and comitting suicide! I think we do so much to encourage girls that boys are getting left behind. Some feminists seem to have a blind eye to much of this.

4:18PM PDT on Jul 12, 2012

ty

1:28PM PDT on Jul 12, 2012

Respect needs to be taught in today's society in many ways! Let's start now before it gets too bad we can't do anything about it! Someday we may hit the point of no return if we as a society don't open our eyes!

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