New Internationalist

Feminism belongs in schools

Black and white photo of some teenagers [Related Image]
Teenagers kamshots under a Creative Commons Licence

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:

Amanda writes:

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/

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  1. #1 Cameron Troy Kanowski 22 Jul 13

    In an era where the entire education system has gradually been tailored to suit, is populated and largely administrated by women with staunch feminist views, the decision by the school to not endorse a feminist assembly among it's pupils should be commended and appreciated in the interests of gender balance, cohesion and general harmony.

    In practice the group failed. It failed because the basic premise of modern feminism is seen, even by many socially aware young adults, as a movement that marginalises males without remorse on many levels. Also as a movement that uses organised subterfuge, such as the persistent and unrelenting emasculation and shaming of boys through every type of popular media available, along with false data and extensive propaganda campaigns to achieve it's goals. Goals that, at their very core and grass roots level, are to enact a perceived power of authority or superiority of one sex over another. Though not in a way that may be dictated by duty or morality, religious or otherwise, or just compassion for ’the weaker sex’ as seen in times past, but simply a vindictive wave of hate and oppression on a group of innocent people, for deeds both genders perpetuated as part of tradition throughout history.

    The weight of the pendulum will swing itself back eventually. A social catastrophe like modern feminism, ushering in the nation destroying welfare state of the western world, could only thrive in a civilised, technologically advanced society during peace time. Perhaps a different type of catastrophe will be the equalizer in times to come. Maybe women will be strong enough to take the blame.

  2. #2 David Heap 22 Jul 13

    As these young women's experiences demonstrate, far too many schools remain hostile environments which support and enable oppressive and ignorant behaviours, at the expense of a safe learning environment.
    Feminism frees men as well -- frees of us of outdated and self-limiting world-views, frees us to relate to our peers in liberated and liberating ways, frees us to explore new ways on viewing our own sexualities and gender identities.
    Those of us who believe in education owe it to our students, to our sons & daughters and to our profession to show that feminism does not ’emasculate’ anyone -- on the contrary, it has the potential to liberate us all!

  3. #3 ReyekoMRA 23 Jul 13

    feminism does not belong in schools. I became an Anti-Feminist due to the historical distortions I heard from so many feminists, the down right lies about history and the burying of history which conflicts with their favourite conspiracy theory 'patriarchy', it's a travesty that feminism has poisoned society enough to taint the halls of universities, it will be a greater travesty than every to taint the minds of impressionable youth before they even have a chance of reaching adulthood. Facts belong in schools, not political ideologies.

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Jo Lateu a New Internationalist contributor

Having joined New Internationalist in 1998 as distribution manager, Jo moved into the editorial team in 2008, where she tries to keep her colleagues in order. Failing that, she edits, proofs and commissions pieces for the magazine and website and waters the plants when she remembers.

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