Soundbite: 'Feminist and Teacher'
This morning I got an email from the External Relations department asking whether I was happy to be labelled as 'feminist and teacher, Emily Seeber' in a newsletter being sent out to parents. The piece had been written by a student about the Feminist Book Club meeting we had earlier in the week.
Although the sentiment of asking people about how they are being labelled is not lost on me, being asked this question did give me a something I want to rant about.
I think it is fairly incompatible to be any kind of decent teacher and not be a feminist, on the modern, loose definition of the word (essentially believing in equality of the genders). We shouldn't have to ask people if they are feminists: instead we should be calling out those who aren't.
All teachers need to have an awareness to gender issues, those who work in mixed environments like I do, and also those in single sex education. There's evidence that we focus on male students more, overestimate their intelligence in comparison to female students, and don't even get me started on gender balance issues in A-level subjects. These are all issues we need to reflect on, discuss, and we can only do that in meaningful ways if we agree in fundamental equality, otherwise we can just forget them and accept the status quo.
"it is incompatible to be a decent teacher and not be a feminist"
And I'm not of the opinion that there is only one kind of feminism; I am not uncompromising in the slightest and accept a range of views, from utter zealotry, to something fairly loose. I think it's healthy for a staff room to have a mix of views about gender issues to promote critical discussion before decisions are made.
So, of course, I'm happy to be labelled as 'feminist and teacher', but I think life would be much better if the idea of being a feminist was utterly understood as being part of the term 'teacher'. And when we had any teachers who were not feminists they, instead, had to be labelled as 'chauvinist and teacher'.
The real irony of this morning's email is that the book we were reading and reviewing was Adiche's We Should All Be Feminists!