We recently received the following from Amanda Hill-Dixon of Feminism Belongs in Schools, a new and independent campaign to bring gender empowerment into schools:
A group of us wanted to show solidarity with the teenagers who set up a Feminist Society in their school, only to have the school turn its back on them when they became victims of really nasty sexist abuse. As a teacher in a secondary school in London I’ve been struck by how in need of gender awareness and empowerment many of the young people in our schools are; we hope to use this story as a spring board for pressuring to get feminism into schools and onto the curriculum.
A couple of weeks ago the Guardian ran a story from a young woman who recently set up a Feminist Society at her school, despite the school’s reluctance to endorse or associate with it. When the girls in FemSoc took powerful photos of themselves with personal message about why they need feminism the result was a torrent of shocking intimidation and harassment from boys in their social circle. But rather than taking steps to tackle the blatant and aggressive sexism, the school decided the best course of action would be to censor the girls, citing ‘concerns for their safety’.
In the young woman’s words, ‘We, a group of 16-, 17- and 18-year-old girls, have made ourselves vulnerable by talking about our experiences of sexual and gender oppression only to elicit the wrath of our male peer group. Instead of our school taking action against such intimidating behaviour, it insisted that we remove the pictures. Without the support from our school, girls who had participated in the campaign were isolated, facing a great deal of verbal abuse with the full knowledge that there would be no repercussions for the perpetrators.’
The school’s actions were a disservice to not only girls and women but to society at large. When we fail in supporting the voices of girls we also turn our backs on boys who need a helping hand to become more informed young men.
Please join us in sending a message loud and clear to Altrincham Grammar School for Girls and other schools around the country that gender empowerment has a firm place in education!
Take a photo to show solidarity with the girls! feminismbelongs.tumblr.com
Sign Here and Ask Schools to Take Action Against Sexism! ukfeminista.org.uk/take-action/generation-f/schools-against-sexism-pledge/