Jesus Was a Feminist, Why Aren't We?

Jesus supported gender equality. He empowered women as disciples and teachers in a time when patriarchal attitudes barred women from such roles. So are we following his example today? asks Ella Thornton.

I walked past the library one Friday only to see a poster wishing us all a ‘Happy International Women’s Day’. Embarrassingly, I had no idea that the day was taking place and, if you’re completely honest, would you? This begs the question – should the school have done more?

The school did a great deal for the celebration of Movember, which coincided with International Men’s Day. Men and boys were encouraged to grow out their facial hair to raise awareness of the often ignored issue of male suicide and mental health issues. This was wonderful and deeply necessary, so I applaud the school for what they did for men. So, why not celebrate the achievements of women on international women’s day? I put this question to Deputy Headteacher, Mr Anderson.

“There was no intention for it to be overlooked and it is a shame we missed out on celebrating this day,” he said. “I admit it was an oversight not to mark International Women’s Day this year. Rest assured in future we will be celebrating the day and hosting events to commemorate such an important event.”

Perhaps my generation needs to do more to promote women. From the people I have spoken to, a majority of whom were girls, very few are engaged with feminism in the way I expected them to. I wanted a ‘fight–the–patriarchy!’ type-feeling and I was lethargically tossed back a lukewarm response that mumbled something about the cons of being a feminist around teenage boys. I too have experienced this – ‘ooh, you’re feisty, aren’t you?’

‘No, I just believe in equality.’

"Perhaps my generation needs to do more to promote women"

But girls, and I should say boys too, you may think that post-Trump and #MeToo feminism has become mainstream, with more marches and protests than ever before. We are living in the 21st century where phrases like ‘girl power’ and ‘her story’ are in common use, after all. However, only 34 per cent of British women describe themselves as feminists and this is largely because of the name, not the ideals behind the word. In the 1920s, feminists were called spinsters and branded with more offensive insults; nowadays, the barbs flung differ but have the same effect – alienating many women from feminism by preying on their deeply conditioned and socialized fear of appearing unfeminine.

Gender stereotyping has been rife in the workplace and in academia. It wasn’t until 1920 that women were allowed to graduate at university and traditionally female students have been pushed away from less ‘feminime’ subjects like maths and sciences. There is a government-level mission to encourage girls into STEM and I hoped the school is on board with this. I spoke to Mr Anderson, about the school’s STEM policy for female students.

“I can confirm we are already working with the Department For Education,” he said, “on a STEM project to encourage a greater uptake of STEM subjects amongst girls. You will recall three years ago we worked with the Institute of Physics on a 2 year long project in this very same area. We are a school that wants the best opportunities for all its pupils regardless of gender, race or any other difference.”

International Women’s Day shows an ever increasing engagement with women’s issues. However, I think that we all should engage with feminism every day of the year for a fairer, more equal and harmonious society. We could achieve this through greater engagement with feminism in PHSE lessons; the curriculum could also focus more on women’s outstanding achievements. The future at school and in the wider community will, hopefully, we be more feminist.

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