More on teaching feminism to girls

// 14 August 2008

Further to this (Jessica Ringrose and teaching feminism to girls), Joan Smith has written an excellent column over at The Times.

Looking back, I’m amazed at how much we achieved – many feminist ideas, such as the right to maternity leave, have become mainstream – but I’m also horrified by the casual misogyny of 21st-century life. Since my book, Misogynies, was first published in 1989, it has got much worse.

From The Times

Comments From You

A Cook // Posted 14 August 2008 at 5:35 pm

I have been fighting the ignorants on this HYS piece all day. Care to help out anyone? It received a good response but was then taken over by the ‘equal rights good but feminism bad’ brigade and the predictable ‘feminists are resentful ugly women’ tribe. Which only really proves the point doesn’t it?

Davina // Posted 14 August 2008 at 6:04 pm

A Cook – commenting on the Guardian and HYS is not advised! There are certain posters who are ALWAYS only out to argue and demean – they will not listen, let alone discuss.

The article’s good, really good. I still can’t quite believe I used to be one of those teenage girls..

I do love the irony in how on the same page there’s a link to an article called ‘Where have all the real men gone?’, written by a woman who thinks feminism has neutered men. I suppose the Times is attempting to be impartial.

ConservaTorygirl // Posted 14 August 2008 at 10:07 pm

Comment anywhere and you’ll find people foaming at the bit for a fight.

Save your energy!

When my other half said that my objection to girls in lads’ mags (very predictable – the social consequences of pornification…) was “an old feminist argument” I ended up thinking…

‘Yeah but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong!’

Unfortunately I had already hung up at that point.

Jennifer-Ruth // Posted 15 August 2008 at 9:27 am

A Cook – I gave up entirely on the HYS boards because the comments just boggle my mind.

I recommend visiting here because your head will hurt less afterwords.

George // Posted 15 August 2008 at 12:23 pm

My word, the comments are hilarious!

I like this one best: “Feminism was an extremist ideology of man-hating that orginated in the 60s. These early feminists were not attractive and this was the cause of their anger. Feminism brainwashes women.”

I love the fact that I am an ugly sixties throwback. Ha!

Anyway, I agree with the article, but I really must stress that I think feminism should be taught to all individuals. This reinforces the idea that it isn’t a secret cult for Wimmin, but also makes sure that boys also mght start questioning all the messages that they are fed by such quality publications as Nuts or Loaded.

I also think that it shiuld be very much a part of a positive sex education… but that’s a bigger story.

George // Posted 15 August 2008 at 12:27 pm

Ooo, and I also love: “They come out with, oh you are women haters ‘mysoginists’ (word made up for propaganda).”


I think my new policy on combating online misogyny is just leaving them to totally embarrass themselves.

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 15 August 2008 at 12:42 pm

What is needed within education is compulsory feminist media studies or since that word ‘feminist’ is taboo compulsory media studies. This will enable girls and boys to learn how to critique the media and give them the tools to challenge consumerism and how it reinforces misogyny and sexism. There are a few good websites which provide tools to challenge the media. Likewise women such as Emmeline Pankhurst, Virginia Woolf etc. are not ‘redundant’ because much of what they faced still exists today . Only difference is it goes by a different name – but still same old story is being told. Women are sexualised objects never ever diverse human beings. Don’t throw history out with the bathwater because we do need to reinvent the wheel.

Ruth // Posted 16 August 2008 at 1:02 am

I’d suggest it was at least as urgent to teach feminism to *boys*…they need to change even more.

Aimee // Posted 19 August 2008 at 2:19 pm

I work in a school and I teach feminism to boys and girls! Albeit in a slightly underhand way, given that it’s not part of the syllabus or anything, but I try and encourage them to challenge their own beliefs about gender roles. My boyfriend works in a nursery and he’s been wearing (my) pink socks to work and telling the kids that just ‘cos he’s a boy doesn’t mean he can’t wear pink, because nothing should be ‘just for boys’ or ‘just for girls’. It’s really easy to help kids to evaluate themselves and their ideas about how things should be. Hopefully by cultivating this at an early age, the demand for feminism to be taught in schools will increase.

Incidentally, I have to be ‘underhand’ about it, because some of the teachers are SO old fashioned and have really strict ideas about gender, so for example when the teacher tells them to split up into ‘boys and girls’, i’ll do something later on to counter it because I think it segregates them and alienates them from eachother. Recently, some of the children OVERHEARD the teachers talking about how a boy who is somewhat ‘effeminate’ and wore pink to the school disco must be gay… when I say overheard, they were talking about in plain earshot of the kids which i think is disgusting, but anyway, I sat down with them later and told them that just because someone acts in a certain way doesn’t make them gay or straight or otherwise, and even if it did, there’s nothing wrong with that ‘cos it’s a personal choice. I think we can all help children to learn about feminism and equality issues just by talking to them about it, and opening their eyes to new ideas at an early age. I think we definitely need critical thinking if schools as well as feminism.

Alex T // Posted 24 August 2008 at 6:39 pm

Oh I love Misogynies, it’s a great book, I thoroughly recommend it! It’s fairly short and digestible and probably a good introduction for any friends who are just ‘discovering’ feminism.

Nothing more to add!

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