2013 Speaking Engagements for Feminist Teacher: Ileana Jiménez

I presented at the National Women's Studies Association Conference in 2012 (photo credit: Veronica Arreola).

I presented at the National Women’s Studies Association Conference in 2012 (photo credit: Veronica Arreola).

I have an exciting line-up of presentations and speaking engagements this spring. Please join me at one of these events and make teaching for social justice through feminism and activism a reality. Let me know if you’ll be there!

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Top Five Moments on Teaching High School Feminism in 2012

My national television debut on the Melissa Harris-Perry Show (photo credit: Cheryl Coward).

My national television debut on the Melissa Harris-Perry Show (photo credit: Cheryl Coward).

2012 was a fantastic year for me as a feminist teacher, activist, and blogger. Take a look at my top five moments this year. 

  1. Appeared on the Melissa Harris-Perry Show to talk about teaching women’s studies to high school students as well as to advocate for safe and inclusive schools (August 2012).
  2. Featured in The Atlantic during the Aspen Ideas Festival for teaching students how to engage in public discourse via blogging (July 2012).
  3. Presented best practices on teaching high school feminism to a full room of scholars and activists at the National Women’s Studies Association Conference in Oakland. Among several topics, I highlighted my students’ work on the first International Day of the Girl (October-November 2012).
  4. Supported my students Emma and Carina as they led a SPARK petition challenging Teen Vogue to stop photoshopping images of women and girls and to start including more diverse models (July 2012).

    My students Emma and Carina (far left) led the SPARK petition against Teen Vogue (photo courtesy SPARK).

    My students Emma and Carina (far left) led the SPARK petition against Teen Vogue (photo courtesy SPARK).

  5. Record number of six boys sign up for my high school feminism class. Two boys credit sisters who have taken women’s studies classes–including mine–as the number one reason for taking my class. This year, students wrote phenomenal blog posts on their feminist blog, F to the Third Power, including their vision for the future of feminism (September-December 2012).

    Students in my high school feminism class 2012 (photo Ileana Jiménez).

    Students in my high school feminism class 2012 (photo Ileana Jiménez).

Feminist Teacher Now Education Commentator on Feminist Magazine, Pacifica Radio

Feminist Magazine, KPFK 90.7, Pacifica Radio

Over the summer, I joined the exciting roster of new commentators at Feminist Magazine on KPFK Pacifica radio. I will be sharing perspectives on social justice and feminism in education.

If you missed my first commentary in July, I’ve posted the audio archive here as well as the transcript below. Watch my Twitter and Facebook feeds for updates on upcoming commentary dates.

Transcript of my first commentary on the invisibility of teachers as leaders in the media and the need to re-position our voices in political and educational discourse follows below. Continue reading

Guest Blog: Krystle Merchant on Teaching Women’s History

Krystle Merchant teaches a high school women’s history class at an all-girls school outside of Washington, D.C. (photo courtesy, Krystle Merchant)

The following guest blog by Krystle Merchant is the final post in a three-part series on teaching for social justice featuring the work of educators in primary, middle, and high school classrooms.

Krystle Merchant is a teacher and proud feminist at an all-girls high school in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. 

As a young, black female history teacher at a private school in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., I often feel pressured to speak to colleagues and parents on behalf of many different communities. As a result, I try to educate girls to be willing and able to do the same as adult women, regardless of which communities they represent. This is especially true in my Women in the United States senior history elective, where I draw my students’ attention to their current and future experiences as women, the importance of gender to the meaning of history, and the construction of the historical narrative.

On the first day of class, we start with a simple survey. The first question, “Are you a feminist?,” always gets a qualified answer. Even seniors at an all-girls high school, who are choosing to take a course in women’s history, do not feel comfortable identifying as feminists. The term is so deeply connected to negative stereotypes of women, that even when they give a good working definition of feminism, they do not want to associate themselves with the term.

To chip away at their internalized barrier to feminism, I ask my girls to identify, follow, and respond regularly to a feminist blog such as the fbomb, Feministing, and Feminists for Choice. From there, the course proceeds by reviewing much of the same content covered in their junior year survey course on U.S. History.

However, rather than discussing notable American women or women’s contributions to the usual textbook topics, we talk about periodization, access to power, and production. The latter term “production” refers to the sources available for our study and whether they were produced by women. Women’s societal status at any given time determined the kinds of information they could produce and whether that information became accessible for later study. Continue reading

Feminist Teacher Featured on Melissa Harris-Perry Show

My national television debut on the Melissa Harris-Perry Show (photo credit: Cheryl Coward).

Yesterday, I was honored to be on the Melissa Harris-Perry show on MSNBC. The show’s focus was on what makes a good education. Other guests who joined me throughout the four segments on education were:

Watch the first segment in which I talk about my class on feminism and activism for high school students. Watch the second segment in which I talk about the need to create safe schools free of bullying and harassment.

Spoke at AAUW Release of Sexual Harassment in Schools Report (VIDEO)

Last fall, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) released a report titled Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment in Schools at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The report presents new data on sexual harassment, including cyber-harassment, in middle and high schools based on a 2011 nationwide survey of students in grades 7-12.

As part of the release, I participated in a panel along with report co-authors Catherine Hill and Holly Kearl, both of the AAUW; Kedrick Griffin, senior director of programs at Men Can Stop Rape; and Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queen Bees and Wannabes.

In addition to providing key findings, the report highlights four promising practices that schools can take action on, including teaching women’s studies at the high school level. Teaching gender and women’s studies to high school students not only increases girls’ knowledge of sexual harassment but also shows that “girls [feel] more self-empowered to respond to incidents of sexual harassment.”

As part of my remarks on the panel, I pointed to this promising practice of addressing sexual harassment in schools as part of my own women’s studies classroom. Key components of my course on women’s and gender studies include:

  • Collaborating with advocacy and activist organizations such as Girls for Gender Equity to address sexual harassment in schools; Men Can Stop Rape to engage young men; Hollaback! to teach high school students to address street harassment via blogging and social media; and the Center for Anti-Violence Education, to teach my students self-defense.
  • Learning about intersectionality: As the AAUW report shows, the intersection of race, class, and gender can cause some students to fare worse than others when they experience sexual harassment. In my own classroom, teaching students how to analyze various systems of oppression, including sexism and racism, leads students to build respect for each other and in the end, decreases incidents of gender-based violence in schools.
  •  Building consciousness for boys and working with them as allies. We cannot overlook the importance of bringing young men into the conversation in terms of helping them understand societal messages about masculinity and hyper-masculinity that leads to the kind of homophobia, transphobia, sexual harassment, and other gender-based violence we see in schools and on the streets.

Spoke at Barnard Center for Research on Women: Activism and the Academy (VIDEO)

Earlier this school year, the Barnard Center for Research on Women celebrated its fortieth anniversary by holding a conference titled Activism and the Academy: Celebrating 40 Years of Scholarship and Activism. I sat on a panel titled Writing, New Media, and Feminist Activism along with other inspiring activists such as Mandy Van Deven of Girls for Gender Equity; Veronica Pinto of Hollaback!; and Susanna Horng of Girls Write Now.

The inimitable Courtney Martin, former Feministing editor and author of such books as Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists, moderated the panel. Courtney framed our conversation with three compelling questions:

  • What is one thrilling success you or your organization has had at the intersection of writing, new media, and activism?
  • What is one good failure?
  • What is one question you’re still “living your way into”? Ala R.M. Rilke:  “Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”

It was an honor to to be a part of this exciting conversation with inspiring women who are at the forefront of working with young people at the intersections of gender and equity, writing and feminism, activism and advocacy.

Even more exciting was bringing the high school juniors and seniors in my feminism class to the conference; they all sat in the front row of Barnard’s Diana Center eagerly scribbling notes as they listened to the panel. Each of them wrote excellent blog posts on their feminist class blog, F to the Third Power, about their experience at the conference.

I think you will be left inspired by my students’ posts, as they ponder what feminism means to them, including Dinayuri, who wrote: “Feminism is not broken. It does not need to be repaired. It isn’t tainted so much so that the grounds from which it was built has to be destroyed and created all over again. But rather there is a need to expand feminism to include as well as recognize and fight for more diversity. Feminists can no longer be ignorant to other factors of oppression that come into play and which thwart one from being fully free of all discrimination.”

A video of the panel is now available:

http://vimeo.com/31753926

Feminist Teacher on the Radio

Feminist Magazine, KPFK 90.7, Pacifica Radio

Within the past few months, I’ve had the terrific honor of being a guest on two feminist radio shows: Digital Sisterhood Network’s Feminism Online Project and Feminist Magazine. Last night, Feminist Magazine co-hosts Celina Alvarez and Christene Kings interviewed me during their show on KPFK 90.7 Pacifica Radio in Los Angeles. Calling in from México, I was thrilled to talk to Celina and Christene about my work with young people in high school.

One of the points I made was that the reason why students are attracted to feminism is because they can use its tools in their everyday lives: “What I do in the classroom not only focuses on gender and sexuality but also race and class . . . Students get excited because it’s about them . . . they face sexism, they face racism, they face classism, they face homophobia, transphobia, all of it, and feminism is the perfect launching point for those kinds of conversations. They want their education to be personal but they also want it to be useable, and I think that feminism is one of those things that you can teach that is so useable and young people just grab it.”

In case you missed the show last night, here’s the archive: my segment starts at 28:24 and ends at 42:18.

Earlier in May, I was also invited by Ananda Leeke from the Digital Sisterhood Network to be her guest for the entire hour (just press play). I was able to talk at length with Ananda about the Fulbright research I’m doing in México on LGBT youth in schools as well as my work in schools in the U.S. During the course of the show, my student and fellow Twitter fiend, Steven Susaña, joined the chat section of the program. Steven took my feminism course last fall, and since then, has been a committed feminist activist and male ally. It was so wonderful to have him as part of the conversation about teaching and learning feminism at the high school level.

Throughout both of these interviews, I was reminded again and again how important feminist media is and how important it is to lift each other’s work through our blogs, op-eds, radio programs, television appearances, and the like. We have to be the ones to invite each other to be guests on our blogs and programs if we want to change the landscape of voices. We have to be the ones to invite a different conversation for a different world.

Letter to Obama: A Call for Teaching Feminism in K-12 Classrooms

Emily Heroy’s post at Equality 101 about the call to teach feminism in high schools in the US reminds me of an assignment I gave to students last year in my course on feminism to high school juniors and seniors titled Fierce and Fabulous: Feminist Women Writers, Artists, and Activists.

In the wake of excitement after Obama’s inauguration, I asked students to write a letter to our new President asking him to examine the issue of gender and education with a critical eye on the ways in which feminism might be addressed in the curriculum. All of the letters, 11 total (8 by girls, 3 by boys), were fantastic. Here’s one from an African American female student that captures the urgency of teaching issues of gender and feminism in K-12 classrooms: Continue reading