Dr. Jessica Ringrose, a lecturer in the sociology of gender at London's Institute of Education, proposed that feminism should be taught in schools. In light of the rather rabid way that popular media portrays women today, Ringrose explained that "Teenage girls are struggling to find a positive identity that's not completely defined by their sexuality. Positive role models can help them find the strength to resist being sexualised by men's needs."
Concerns that young girls define themselves in terms of male desire were substantiated by a recent study in which young girls casually referred to each other as "whores" or "sluts" and expressed feeling that "everything was at stake" if they did not appear sexy or feminine towards boys. Ringroses's proposal of finding space in the curriculum to discuss feminist issues is a fresh and welcome idea to help in counter-acting the depressingly myopic view that so many young girls have of their sexuality.
While Ringrose proposes that we look towards feminist icons such as Virginia Woolf and even Lisa Simpson to give young girls strong, confident, intelligent role models to help boost their self-esteem, Louise Livesey of the popular UK feminism blog 'the f word' made the astute point that instead of looking towards historical and fictional characters, we should instead be giving young students more realistic examples of contemporary feminists.
A quick glance through the comments section in the Telegraph article seems to be all the proof necessary to justify the importance of teaching the concepts of feminism in schools — such as one commenter's shrewdly judicious suggestion "Forget about feminism, teach women about manners, respect and decency." Brilliant!
If feminist education began early on, perhaps the politicians of tomorrow wouldn't be making the doltish claims of our politicians today such as Nick Eriksen's frighteningly recent "women enjoy sex, so rape cannot be such a terrible physical ordeal" quote.
Photo courtesy of yuki's flickrstream.