The NYC Teacher Schooling Next Gen Kids On Feminism & Gender Equality

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Remember the video we posted back in June about the group of high school boys in New York who shared their views on feminism after taking a class on the subject? Well they are back in the news again, because Elite Daily released a behind-the-scenes video about the class and specifically the impact the teacher has had on this generation of students.

The school is LREI, (Little Red School House and Elizabeth Irwin High School), the teacher is Ileana Jiminez, and the 3-month long class is called “Fierce and Fabulous: Feminist Writers, Artists, and Activists”.

The school itself is known for its more progressive teaching methods, and the students who took this class represent the type of feminists we hope to see across the world in the future.

Elite Daily’s Kelley Lord was impressed by the diversity in the class.

“The first day I watched the students file into the classroom, I was pleasantly surprised to see the diversity of the students who signed up for the course. Representing a variety of races, genders and social circles…the students gave me many reasons why Ileana’s teaching style is extraordinary. Beyond her passion for feminism and personally crafted course, I discovered why her class was truly unique when she brought in students from India to interact with her students.”

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Foregoing traditional teaching methods and a more traditional curriculum to teach something unique, she teamed up with an organization called Breaking Barriers which is the first gay and straight alliance in India and is fighting for rights for LGBT youth. The students spent over a week with members from this group and by the end of the course they had a more informed view on human rights issues (such as LGBT) and why their voices as students and the younger generation can be a powerful force for change.

On a level closer to home, the class also enabled them to think critically about issues that affect them as young men and women on a day-to-day basis. One of the issues brought up by a female student was street harassment. She mentioned she has been harassed on the street by men since she was 9. NINE!!!

It is a very timely issue as the viral video made by Hollaback showing a woman walking through New York City being harassed by men for 10 hours has brought many different engendered opinions to the surface.

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The arguments over whether women should put up with it, fight back or whether men should learn to examine their own actions has been ongoing and to be honest, some of it is very disappointing. It prompted comedian Elon James White to start a hashtag #dudesgreetingdudes which was a funny spin on the whole agenda. The question he posed was why can’t straight men call out to other straight men in the street the same way they do to women?

In another funny take on an important subject, a Tumblr called ‘But What Was She Wearing?’ has surfaced, showing the argument that often gets thrown around in cases of sexual harassment and rape is completely unfounded. Mainly because the when you take a look at what some of the girls are actually wearing when they get harassed, you realize people are focusing on the wrong damn thing! Also it should be noted that no article of clothing ever invented gives any sort of permission for someone to harass or abuse you in any manner.

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So why is this feminist class important? Because it is showing the value of teaching young men and women the inherent problems in society, and it’s enabling this group of students to start out their adult life with the right perspective on gender equality and issues that unfortunately are just a lost cause for some.

Ileana told NBC news that the more educated students are from a young age about intersectionality and the injustices, the less instances we would see of gender-based violence.

“If we addressed these issues from a very young age, we wouldn’t have such a world full of racism and sexism,” she said.

“I think it is very powerful to teach it at the high school level because young people are really trying to find the language that is relevant to their lives and to describe the experiences they are having. Feminism provides the language to know themselves. It provides a lens for understanding exactly what they have instinctively known was an injustice but maybe they didn’t always have the language.”

Many of the female students in the video talk about their experience of street harassment in New York and the feeling of “powerlessness” that it comes with. Doesn’t that show you there is a problem that this is allowed? Sure some Fox news commentator stated on TV she doesn’t mind being cat-called because she sees it as a compliment. But when you make such a generalization and brush off the fact that many many women are raped, abused, harassed and shamed on a daily basis you reinforce the societal norms that cat-calling is ok on some levels.

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This blog post is not about forcing anyone to pick sides on the street harassment issue, it is to promote why educating kids as early as possibly that gender stereotyping is a very negative and dangerous thing. With intersectionality, Ileana believes it educates students on the full scope of what feminism is about, not just women’s rights.

“The course not only focuses on issues of gender, but rather, social class, ethnicity, human rights, and complex and nuanced ways of understanding who we are. Part of what the students walk away with is how to use that – [there are] different issues people don’t associate with feminism such as poverty, immigration and education, and how they apply it to their lives,” she said.

Dunno about you guys but we here at GTHQ wish Ileana Jiminez’s class was a prerequisite for life at every school around the world. Just imagine the impact and change of attitudes we will start to see in society from students like these.

“The class is making me a better person, it’s making me a better ally, and it’s making me more conscious of the things that I say and do,” says a male student Jayson in the video. Those words are exactly the types of attitudes we hope to see more of, from both men and women.

“Both the academic piece and the activist issues need to be a part of schools,” says Ileana. “I think if we did that, K (Kindergarten) through [year] 12, we’d live in a very different world.


 

 

 

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