Feminism-in-Schools Featured at First International Girls’ Studies Association Conference

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Feminism-in-schools movement leaders, Ileana Jiménez, Hanna Retallack, Marnina Gonick, and Jessica Ringrose, at the first International Girls’ Studies Association Conference, UK (photo courtesy, Ileana Jiménez)

Leaders in the feminism-in-schools movement recently made history at the inaugural International Girls’ Studies Association (IGSA) conference when we were featured in the event’s opening plenary at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK from April 7-9. It was the first time that a global girls’ studies conference featured teachers and researchers sharing our work together on #HSfeminism, a hashtag I created in the last few years to bring visibility to our movement.

As we each presented our papers individually followed by a panel discussion, Professor Marnina Gonick of Mount Saint Vincent University in Canada; Professor Jessica Ringrose and doctoral researcher, Hanna Retallack, both of the Institute of Education, University College, London; and I made a bold statement that our intersectional feminist pedagogies and practices are transforming the landscape of classroom curricula, student activism, and professional development for educators.

We were particularly honored that our plenary took place at the same time as the Black Girl Movement Conference, where activists and scholars gathered at Columbia University for three days in New York City to focus on Black girls, cisgender, queer, and trans girls, in the United States. We feel strongly that as girls’, women’s, and gender studies scholars, we must all work together collectively to support girls of color in our activism and teaching.

Now that we are post-conference and closing out our school year, I brought together my colleagues via email to reflect on what the IGSA plenary meant for us. Continue reading

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On her 80th Birthday: Reflections on Meeting Gloria Steinem in India

Gloria Steinem spoke at the India International Center in January to launch her book tour (photo credit: Ileana Jiménez, Feminist Teacher).

Gloria Steinem spoke in January at the India International Centre in Delhi to launch her book tour for “As if Women Matter.” (photo credit: Ileana Jiménez, Feminist Teacher).

At the start of 2014, I led a seven-week tour of schools in India speaking to high school students about feminism and education.

Little did I know that one of my favorite feminists and fellow Smith alums, Gloria Steinem, would also be conducting an Indian tour of her own.

One morning in Delhi, I opened an email from Smith trustee, Mona Sinha. She urged me to go hear Steinem at the nearby India International Centre, where she was going to speak about her new book, As if Women Matter, alongside her longtime friend and fellow activist, Ruchira Gupta, founder of Apne Aap, which supports survivors of sex trafficking, and who had also edited Steinem’s new book.

I immediately made my reservation. I wanted a chance to speak to her in the very country that had changed her life forever.

Continue reading

Feminist Teacher, Ileana Jiménez, Launches School Tour of India

Students at the Sanskriti School in New Delhi talked with me about gender and sexuality in Indian culture (photo credit: Ileana Jiménez)

Students at the Sanskriti School in New Delhi talked with me about gender and sexuality in Indian culture (photo credit: Ileana Jiménez)

This last week, I kicked off my tour of schools in India to talk about teaching feminism in schools globally. I’m taking a short leave of absence from teaching at the start of 2014 to meet with students, teachers, and activists throughout India who are thinking seriously about what it means to address issues of gender and sexuality in school, the media, and at home. I’ll be documenting my time abroad right here on Feminist Teacher.

My first stop was at the Sanskriti School in New Delhi, where a Fulbright teacher colleague of mine, Sangeeta Gulati, invited me to speak to a group of juniors who are taking a high school humanities course. During my hour with them, these students and I talked about everything from the recent Delhi Supreme Court judgment on Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalizes homosexuality and sex between queer couples, deeming it “unnatural”; to last year’s Delhi gang-rape; to slut-shaming in the U.S. and India (NB: the students used the term “slut-shaming” themselves); to the politics of feminist pedagogy and inclusion in K-12 schools.

The students were immediately engaged in the discussion. At one point, I shared with them that I teach a high school course on feminism and another class on queer literature and film, and they were immediately intrigued. They chimed in with a barrage of excited questions:

  • Do you believe in misandry (the hatred of men)?
  • How do parents at your school react to your teaching their children feminist and LGBT classes?
  • How do you propose to address the sexualization of women in the media?
  • Do you talk about slut-shaming in your classes? What about the Slutwalks?
  • Have you seen the “It’s your fault” video?
  • How will you work with teachers in India on bringing feminism to students here?

And that was only the beginning. Continue reading