Teaching Boys Feminism

The following is cross-posted at Gender Across Borders and Equality 101 for their jointly hosted Feminism & Education series.

 

 

 

 

Each year, boys sign up for my high school course on feminism (photo, Ileana Jiménez)

When I was in college, I always thought that teaching girls about feminism was my life’s calling. It turns out that teaching boys about feminism has made that calling even more profound.

In the past three years, I have taught a high school course on feminism titled Fierce and Fabulous: Feminist Writers, Artists, and Activists. Each year, girls and boys sign up for the class and each year, these young men are awakened not only to injustices regarding race, class, and gender in national and global contexts but also to injustices regarding how they have been socialized as boys.

With every example of women, girls, queer folks, and people of color facing discrimination, marginalization, and violence, boys awaken. White male boys begin to realize the male privilege they have enjoyed in a culture that valorizes powerful white men while boys of color gain language to describe their painful experiences of racism and classism. And each year, without fail, regardless of racial identity or socioeconomic class, the boys—both straight and gay—express their fear of being called a “fag.” Continue reading