The theme this month for the FeministSA website was the challenge as to What is the contribution you have to make? Jen’s challenge was that, as a feminist, what are you doing to make a difference, and are you on the right path to ensure that difference is being made? As the new month encroaches on us, this is a challenge I am facing in my current life and direction.
So after a long recent struggle with loads of self-reflection, self-awareness and prayer, I very recently decided to change life directions in my late twenties. Having become completely disillusioned with the corporate world and mind-set and the continual quest for money, I decided to follow my passion for teaching; and thus next week I will be starting at the bottom again as a teaching intern.
My current challenge is that the school that decide to take chance on me is a Traditional All Boys School. I myself schooled at an all-boys Boarding School, and I cannot emphasise enough that such an environment is extremely sexist. In fact, reflecting on what was said by students and the male teachers, it could almost be said to be misogynistic. There is the continual barrage of language and images that the boys share in describing and, dare I say, lusting, after these ‘things with boobs’ that are not always within reach, but definitely there to serve one’s desires. The concept of the ‘AXE’ deodorant man is perceived as the ideal goal for a boy to aspire to, and girls are either classified easy or ugly. I recall many conversations in the bathrooms about who scored with who and how and which girl is easy to get drunk…I think you can grasp the image. And even the underlying philosophy of many of these schools comes from a basis of developing “Real, Manly Men”, the sort of men who need to lead and be in control. In my five years there, I can’t ever recall hearing any discussion about the injustice of gender inequality, nor challenges to undo the injustices. It was a man’s world, run by men, trained to be strong men in society.
So as I enter such an environment again, which I doubt has changed much over the last nine years, how do I make a contribution to the feminist cause? I am aware of the massive potential I would have, but I have racked my brainand come up with little in terms of real practical solutions or measures to implement apart from the influences I would exert in my day to day dealings, conversation and lessons.
So readers, do you think that is enough? Should I seek to, perhaps, institute a young feminist club as a cultural activity? Would this work or perhaps distance the boys further? Does anybody have any other good ideas or concepts? As I enter this challenge I am reminded that great injustice happens when good people do nothing.