Help some budding feminist philosophers!

Our Year 7s recently did some work in History about why the subject is relevant to us today. They had to come up with their own historical questions. The pupils had to believe that in answering these questions they would discover something that would shape the way we live today. They then voted on the most interesting questions. One class chose the above question: “Why are men and women different?” – qualifying it, as all good philosophy students should, with the follow-up: “That is, if they are that different really?”

I am delighted that the class voted for this question. I am constantly both infuriated and heartbroken by the constant bombardment of images and ideas about gender that our young people receive, and am very happy that the chance to discuss this came from the kids themselves.

So here is my request, oh lovely F Word readers: how would you begin helping 11-year-olds answer this question? Are there any good resources you can recommend? Any short stories, or interesting videos, or beautiful and terrifying graphs that would be accessible to 11-year-olds? Are you a teacher who has tried and tested methods of aiding pupils’ discovery? Do you work in London, and if so, would you like to come and meet the next generation of feminist-philosophers? Please get in touch with me by email!

For more, go here. (Thanks, J!)

7 thoughts on “Help some budding feminist philosophers!

  1. We are different both because we are and because it suited oppressors to exploit out differences. It struck me when I had children that I know who my babies are but their father takes it on trust. Which partly explains why as my (male) history teacher said history is defined by the efforts of men to control access to their women and attain access to other men’s women. The selfish gene meets politics
    As to great resources dawkins’ the selfish gene; blundell’s ladies for liberty; Harriet Taylor and john stuart mill on the subjugation of women; Elizabeth wurtzel’s bitch

  2. For children this age, I think “The Pink and Blue Project” by Jeongmee Yoon can be very compelling testament to cultural and consumer forces at work in gender. The strong visuals would, I think, stimulate all kinds of conversation (at least they did with my 9 year old when she saw them). They’ll immediately recognize the color landscapes as tracking familiar experiences with clothing, toys, and decoration. This is definitely in the “beautiful but terrifying” domain.

  3. I’d also want to focus on getting away from gender essentialism. I’d want to discuss gender identity, gender expression, and the huge range of variety we find in each…and how society tends to try to shut that down, including through media and advertising.

  4. I totally disagree with the NYT article as a good resource. I don’t have time to go into it. Also, please don’t use “transgendered”; the preferred term is “transgender.” We don’t say that someone is “lesbianed,” after all. (Yes, sexual orientation and gender identity are essentially completely distinct, but the analogy is apt.)

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