As a teacher, I give girls what I hope is a lot of attention. I don’t know if I give girls their fair share, but I aspire to, especially after noticing that boys are willing to use their greater share of teachers’ attention to get girls who they feel aren’t being quiet and docile enough punished. I have therefore acquired a reputation for “caring more about the girls.” This has had two marked results: Some straight boys have gotten more hostile toward me, and most girls have gotten more confident around me. This makes me think I’m doing something right.
Longer thoughts on how this phenomenon relates to sexual harassment in classrooms, if you’re interested: The girls figured out I won’t report them if they hit boys who are sexually harassing them, I’ll only report the boys. This led to an increase in how often girls got the last word and boys got smacked in my classes, and, also, to a DECREASE IN HOW OFTEN GIRLS GOT SEXUALLY HARASSED. The sexual harassers seem to have been depending on the sort of “equal blame” and “retaliation is never warranted” and “don’t hurt others’ feelings” perspectives so many schools try to instill in kids; the sexual harassers were usually the ones bringing me into the situation by saying, “Miss, she hit me! You should write her up!” Once they figured out I was only ever going to respond, “If you don’t treat girls like that, they won’t hit you,” the girls got more confident and the sexual harassers largely shut the fuck up.
In schools, fighting against sexual harassment is often punished exactly the same as, or more severely than, sexual harassment — a lot of discipline codes make no distinction between violence and violence in self-defence, and violence is ALWAYS the highest level of disciplinary infraction, whereas verbal sexual harassment rarely is. Sexual harassers, at least in the schools I’ve been in, rely heavily on GETTING GIRLS IN TROUBLE WITH HIGHER AUTHORITIES as a strategy of harassment — creating an external punishment that penalises girls for and therefore discourages girls from fighting back. Sexual harassers are willing to use their greater share of floorspace to ask to get girls who won’t date them punished. By and large, teachers do punish those girls when they swear or hit. Schools condition girls to ignore sexual harassment by punishing them when they speak up or fight back instead.
Once the sexual harassers in my classes understood that girls wouldn’t be punished for rejecting them, they backed off around me. And there started to be a flip in what conversations I get called into — girls are telling me when boys are being nasty (too loud and dominant), instead of boys telling me when girls are being uncooperative (louder and more dominant than boys think they should be).
reblogging again for the wonderful commentary.
Holy crud, so glad I read this. Reblogging for other educators.
As a girl who would not be shut up and would not tolerate teasing or abuse from boys in my class and was several times sent to such higher authorities for it, reading this is extremely, extremely vindicating. I was lucky, though, because being a particularly bright, advanced student for those grades, they generally took my side and I never got into any severe or lasting trouble. Again ,this was luck, and shouldn’t be the rule.
I was going to write that exact last paragraph; WOW.
tumblr does for social justice what peta does for animal rights
this is seriously the best analogy ever
Okay, can I say something from experience here?
When I first joined tumblr I literally knew NOTHING about racism, or cissexism, or transmisgyonny even. I’m a white kid who grew up in a mostly all white town and believed that while racism still existed it was mostly gone in the world and wasn’t that big of a deal any more. I had no idea what cissexism even was or what transmisgyony was EVEN THOUGH I WAS TRANS because I’m a trans* male for once so I never experienced it and I had INTERNALIZED so much cissexism and transphobia into my own brain that I seriously didn’t think it was that much of a big deal.
You know what changed my mind about all these things? Tumblr. I followed people who were from other countries, cultures, races, sexual orientations, gender identities, etc. Through their blogs I got to learn about how they experienced the world differently and while I will NEVER understand what it’s like to be a person of color or a trans* woman I HAVE learned what privilege is and in what ways I had it. I learned that certain things I had been saying/doing were actually racist or homophobic or transmisgyonistic. NOT to mention that I learned about things that I hadn’t even thought about like fat shaming and rape culture. That’s right, before Tumblr I had NO idea what rape culture even was and I learned that things I had been saying were actually contributing to it.
You know what I also learned about through these so-called “social justice blogs”? HISTORY. I learned about history that wasn’t filtered through the white-washed lens of a history text book. I learned that there were in fact people of color in Europe back in Mozart’s day, that there were women pilots in Russia who helped bomb the Germans in WWII, how the oppression of the indigenous people of Australia breaks almost every law of the Geneva convention, and that -HOLY SHIT- Africa actually is made up of many countries which have internet„ clothing, water, and a middle class!
I was ignorant before Tumblr, disgustingly so, and even though I know that I’m still VERY ignorant when it comes to the world I’m learning, and MOST of my learning is done through Tumblr because here people who don’t normally have a voice are able to make posts and have other people who don’t experience the same things they do SEE them, and if those people choose to (and they SHOULD choose to) then they can LEARN from the posts they see and become a better person.
“Social justice” Tumblr helped ME PERSONALLY become a better person. So go on, say that people blogging about their oppression doens’t teach anyone anything. I fucking dare you.
Also, PETA is horribly sexist, classist, cissexist, racist, and ableist, and comparing a community of largely marginalized people who are hurt by PETA’s actions to PETA is a really really shitty thing to do.
i don’t think i’ve ever agreed with anything more than what this man is saying
watch this. seriously
yes yes yes yes yes
this is amazing
this guy is so sick
I needed this right now. Anyone taking finals needs this right now.
This is a lesson that I’m still trying to learn. I’m better than I was in high school, but sometimes I still fall into this trap even when I try not to.
This is glorious spoken word and it’s an incredibly important message.
My professor played this is class the other day. It was very powerful.
ALYSSA. LOOK. THIS IS IT.
this made me have an existential crisis (which happens multiple times in a week anyway but still)
CAN WE TALK ABOUT THIS?
I mean, can we just talk about how this parallels the actual education system? Where they’re so concerned about teaching us things like logarithms and graphing that we don’t know shit about what’s actually out there in the adult world, like doing taxes or writing checks or anything? I mean, “It is the view of the Ministry that a theoretical knowledge will be sufficient to get you through your examinations, which after all, is what school is all about.” School children are often under the impression that getting A’s in all their classes ensures a successful future, but really, it’s so ignorant because the real world isn’t just one big question-and-answer paper. There is so much more to the world than being able to give back information like some kind of super-computer, and brainwashing children into thinking that theory is key is just going to lead to a bunch of children falling flat on their faces when they’re pushed into the adult world and feel as if everything new they try to do is wrong because it wasn’t taught to them step-by-step. I just really love Harry’s line, “And how is theory supposed to prepare us for what’s out there?” because I feel as if sometimes we just learn things for the sake of knowing them, despite whether it is actually useful. Yes, school is important, and getting bad grades isn’t a good way to start your future, but it’s so much more than that, you see.
this sounds a lot like something Hermione would say
Tumblr has taught me more about feminism, women rights, rape culture, slut shaming, etc, more than school ever had. And there is something wrong with that.
You know how people like to say the US is the “best country in the world?” well, check this out….
The report ranks 135 countries (which collectively contain over 90 percent of the world’s population) based on 14 indicators used to measure the size of a nation’s gender gap in four key areas:
1. Economic participation and opportunity, which includes female labor force participation, wage equality and the percentage of women in high-ranking jobs.
2. Educational attainment, which looks at female literacy and how frequently women are enrolled in higher education.
3. Health and survival, which is measured by comparing female and male life expectancy and mortality rates.
4. Political empowerment, which examines the number of women holding political office as well as the number of female heads of state over the last 50 years.
Well, last year the US ranked #17. Guess where we are now? #22. We dropped FIVE SPOTS IN ONE YEAR. This is in SPITE of even more mainstream coverage of these so-called “women’s issues.”
Now imagine if Romney takes the White House. Politicians who want to take away the rights to our bodies (which is key to our economic success), call rape a “gift,” will run around being unchallenged. We will only go down in terms of gender equity. There is a lot of work to be done.
New Zealand is number 6! :D
imagine that you have a four year old and a really beautiful giant chocolate cake
and you put the cake in front of the kid and that’s it you dont give her any plates or any utensils you just sort of set the cake down in front of the kid and then tell her not to eat it
and the reason you tell her not to eat it is because she’ll get messy or she’ll eat too much and get sick but instead of telling her that you just sort of look at her and then go ‘yeah’ and walk away and leave her to her own devices
and then obviously the minute you walk out of the room she’s begins that cake i mean come on it’s chocolate and beautiful and yeah you told her not to eat it but you know what fuck that noise it’s a perfectly good cake why not
so she digs in but you didnt give her anything just the cake ( and what a beautiful cake it is ) so she just sort of digs in with her hands and she gets it everywhere and then eventually she’s eaten so much that she gets sick and you come back in a couple of minutes later and she’s there sprawled on her chair with cake all over her face and floor and feeling like she’s going to vomit and you shake your head at that four year old and go ‘i did all i could this is all her fault now’
that’s abstinence-only sex education
And this is a great metaphor because it also explains why sex education leads to higher rates of abstinence
If you just put cake in front of kids and go “cake is BAD FOR YOU DON’T EAT IT”, well of course they’re gonna eat it
But if you explain that it’s important to eat cake in moderation with a healthy spectrum of foods or else it can make them sick and give them forks and knives and lessons on the four food groups and the food pyramid and remind them that if they’re not ready to exert the kind of self-control that cake requires it’s okay to eat their vegetables now and have cake for dessert later because really cake is always delicious, then a hell of a lot more of them will make the informed decision not to eat cake right now
Kiddo told me that when it’s bathroom break time in her Kindergarten class that the boys go as a group and the girls go as a group.
“Except for A. She thinks she’s a boy,” said Kiddo.
“Well, maybe A is a boy,” I responded.
“No, she’s a girl!”
“How do you know?”
“Because…she’s a girl.”
“Ok, Kiddo. Let me explain something to you. A person can be born with a vagina, but still be a boy because that’s what they are inside. Also, a person can be born with a penis but still be a girl because that’s what they are inside. Your body doesn’t decide if you are a boy or a girl. It’s just something you know.”
“Yes. So, if A asks you to call them a boy, will you?”
“Because everyone says she’s a girl!”
“Well, there are a lot of people who don’t understand that being a boy or a girl is not something they decide. It’s something each person knows about themself. You know you’re a girl, right?”
“So, don’t you think A knows if they are a boy or a girl?”
“So if A asks you to call them a boy, will you?”
“That’s great, Kiddo. You know why? Because, like I said, there a lot of people who won’t believe A and that’s gonna be something that hurts them a lot. But if A has just one person that believes them and treats them the way they want to be treated, that could help A a lot.”
“Ok. If A asks me, I will.”
OH GEE BUT WAIT! According to most people this is something that kids just can’t understand!!
While Kiddo may not understand everything about sex vs. gender and identity, she understands being nice and helping people.
I don’t doubt that we’ll probably have to revisit this topic again, but I honestly do think this is a topic worth talking to your kids about and it can be done.
HOW DIFFICULT. HOW SCARRING.
School is really important: Reading, writing, arithmetic. But what they tend to do is teach you reading, writing, arithmetic…then teach you reading, writing, arithmetic again. Then again, then again, just making it harder and harder just to keep you busy. And that’s where I think they messed up. There should be a class on drugs. There should be a class on sex education. No, REAL sex education class, not just pictures and illogical terms…There should be a class on scams, there should be a class on religious cults, there should be a class on police brutality, there should be a class on apartheid, there should be a class on racism in America, there should be a class on why people are hungry, but there not, their class is on…gym….Their class is like Algebra. we have yet to go a store and said, “Can I have X Y + 2 and give me my Y change back, thank you.” You know?…Like foreign languages. I think that they are important, but I don’t think it should be required. Actually, they should be teaching you English, and then teach you how to understand double talk, politician’s double talk. Not teaching you how to understand French and Spanish and GERMAN. When am I going to Germany? I can’t afford to pay my rent in America! How am I going to Germany?
—Tupac, Age 17 On the Topic of Education, 1988.
This makes me want to cry.
Depressing to see that he said this in 1988 and it is still really fucking relevant. We haven’t changed at all, have we?
“Saying ‘what kind of idiot doesn’t know about the Yellowstone supervolcano’ is so much more boring than telling them about the Yellowstone supervolcano for the first time.”
The worst people are the ones that just sit and laugh at you like it’s so hilarious that you don’t know about this thing that they know about and then they refuse to tell you because they are just laughing so hard about how smart they are in relation to every body else and by the time they tell you you’ve already decided that you don’t care anymore.