I was teaching yr8 recently and was doing a PSHE lesson on judgements and how we presume people are what they are by some keys words. I started with an easy one (and apologies for anyone this may offend, but this is what they said)
Australian – goodday, cork hat, likes beer. Brown shorts, uses a Barbie all the time, good at rugby!
American – like burgers, loud, baseball cap, Disney logo on their clothes
Then I tried a more challenging topic
Feminist – dungarees, hairy legs, hairy armpits, angry, shouts a lot, butch, ugly, hates men
Oh dear I don’t think I want to be a feminist, any way I think I am an equalist, I don’t hate men, is there such a term? Better look it up as I am doing an assembly about it.
A feminist is someone who is advocating social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men. Ok thats is me. I think that woman are equal to men, in fact I think everyone is equal to everyone. Although thinking about it, we aren’t the same and being equal isn’t about being the same. We are all different and all have different strengths and weaknesses. Some of us our tall, short, flamboyant, reserved, quick on our feet, calm and methodical. All of these characters mean that we would be good at different jobs. I believe a feminist wants someone to be able to do the job that best suits their character no matter what their gender.
I teach in a very male orientated subject. At Uni I was the only female in my class and one of two on my course, I was also the youngest, by about 10 years. Most of my class mates where retraining. My lecturer didn’t like me, could be because I wore dungarees but his reference to my possible future employees could shed more light on his issues. “ The only thing that she has contributed to this course is her smile, which is a pretty one”. Fare to say I didn’t use him as a referee after I read this. But when I did get interviews or even offered jobs I really hoped that I was doing so on my own merit, that I was the best person for the job. It’s hard enough dealing with prejudges on a one off situation but having to prove yourself every day is tiring.
That lecturer felt that woman couldn’t and shouldn’t teach DT. That they could not possibly weld or use the bandsaw. And I had no role models that I could talk this through with. All my lecturers where male, all my DT teachers had been male. It never occurred to me until this point, when all I wanted to do was talk things through. Was I getting a job just to tick the equal opportunity box, who could I talk this through who could relate? Positive role models are needed, woman and men who are who they are, no matter what gender and who don’t judge each other by their appearance. You only have to watch MTV for 5 songs to see the difference between how a successful woman dresses and a successful man dresses. Worldwide, more women than ever before are completing higher levels of education. Better job opportunities have increased many women’s independence and resulted in a new status and role in their families and society. However only 1 in 4 MPs in the UK are woman, and of the 192 countries in the world only a handful have a female head of state. Ok now I am starting to sound like a Feminist, is this a bad thing?
This got me thinking, what does the term feminist mean to other people?