In an age where feminism is often misunderstood and demonized as a movement for female “man haters,” this progressive high school teacher finally decided to take matters into her own hands and reeducate her students about the true meaning of the word. The students responded so positively to the course that 7 of the boys in her class decided to make a video (shown below), in which they proudly declare themselves feminists.
Even though the course is guilty of giving a debatably contradictory spin to feminism, it seems to have truly impacted the boys positively and caused them to look at the world in a new light. It has given them the tools to identify misogyny in every day society, opened up their minds to feminism, and allowed them to adapt the nature of the movement in order to make it relevant to their own lives. “It is a life changing course,” admits Louis, a senior.
Ultimately, this class still deserves to serve as a model for high schools around the country. Given the recent events with the UCSB shootings, the Columbia Rapist List, and the countless other cases of sexual assault on college campus,’ it is imperative that that boys be taught as early as possible to respect women. Regardless of what critics say, this course has the potential to truly revolutionize the way the world views feminism- even if doing so causes it to be seen on a larger scale.
While this video is ultimately incredibly positive and manages to send a very powerful message to modern day teens, some may argue that in attempting to rally these boys behind the movement, the teacher inadvertently altered the definition of feminism, generalizing the movement to be not only about gender equality, but also about class and race. While each of these movements fall under the umbrella of humanism, some would maintain that feminism is a subset, distinctive from the other two and that generalizing it so much to the point where it simply implies “equality for all” puts it in danger of losing some of its substance. According to NOMAS (National Organization for Men Against Sexism), in order to be a feminist, “one must be a member of the targeted group not only as a matter of classification but as having one’s directly-lived experience inform one’s theory and praxis.” This however, is not to say that men aren’t also negatively affected by patriarchy, as they truly are, and they still play a vital role in the movement and can benefit, possibly just as much as women, by supporting it.
Ileana Jiménez is an English teacher at a New York high school, where she offers courses on feminism, LGBT literature, Toni Morrison and memoir writing. She is the founder and sole blogger at Feminist Teacher.