We all know school can be a playground for sexism. Social pressures, objectification and misogynist language are strong both in and out of the classroom, but, in 2015 as we’re all moving forward and tackling the issue of gender inequality head-first, it’s the perfect time to educate students on these matters. And it’s happening, with Victorian high school students now able to add Feminism to their timetable alongside Maths and English thanks to a new-and-improved modern-day curriculum.
It all began back in 2013, when Fitzroy High teacher Briony O’Keeffe and a group of her students formed their own feminist collective, dubbed Fightback. It originated as a chilled lunchtime get-together where they could discuss and vent about situations they had to deal with within the corridors.
But it wasn’t long before the concept spread far beyond the school gates, with its Facebook page garnering over 1,500 likes and becoming a haven for sharing conversations, articles and projects surrounding the issue.
Fightback also created a Kickstarter last year to fund a student-designed feminist resource kit, including a free curriculum available on USB to teachers interested in getting the gender discussions started in their classroom, but aren’t quite sure how to go about it. Victoriously raising $12,350 through the campaign, the feminist curriculum will be made available in Victoria schools from November 26.
Aimed at both male and female secondary students, the course includes around 30 lessons on systemic sexism, the objectification of women and the link between gender inequality and violence against women. Students will reflect on their own experiences, compare media representations of gender and debunk perceptions of feminists, like the preposterous idea some have that they are lesbians or have hairy armpits.
“Sexism and misogyny in adults was once sexism and misogyny in young adults,” the Kickstarter page read. “And we want to start addressing that by provoking our audience to think about their own actions with a view to changing their behaviour, and potentially the behaviour of those around them.”
Now that the opportunity is there for Victorian schools, Briony is preparing a statewide tour to encourage other high schools to offer the course alongside the curriculum launch later this month.