It was over a week ago that I wrote a blog in response to Sue Cowley’s trilogy of blogs outlining her views on feminism in education.
In the latter, Jane makes her position in support of Sue clear as well as her own views.
The only points I feel the need to address are as follows:
a) “correctly identifying the rise of masculine language in education” is an opinion not a fact. Wanting it to be the latter does not make it so.
b) At no point do I “conflate all that is good in education with the so-called masculine attributes” in fact I reject such simple attribution of traits as masculine or feminine in this way. In particular, I reiterate, I do not agree that being intellectual is a masculine trait. If Jane has proof that it is, she has certainly not made it explicit.
c) She goes on to state that: “Language and female identity are exceptionally tricky subjects, and it may be slightly ungracious of me to suggest that people go read some decent feminist works before entering into the discussion at all,”
I found this a bit bizarre as Sue did not quote feminist theory or feminists to support her arguments, but rather gave her opinion, to which I gave mine.
But I get it I need to include a literature review but Sue doesn’t because I’m wrong and she’s right.
She then suggests a reading list:
“Cixous, and Dale Spender, but also do read Women in Dark Times by Jacqueline Rose published last year – I’m reading it now -it’s brilliant. Or maybe, if you are the blogger in question, start with The Women’s Room By Marilyn French.”
Yeah about that – I don’t think I do actually….
I am always happy to read more widely but I don’t feel I ‘have’ to read those particular books to discuss feminism or my experiences as a woman anymore than I feel the need to read Marx before I have an opinion on my working class background. Equally, I don’t feel any need to read Richard Dawkins before having an opinion on being an atheist.
If Jane chooses to base her ideas of feminism solely on the words and world view of white, Eurocentric, middle class women and feels that they reflect her experience and give her insight, then all well and good.
However, to use her criteria would exclude the majority of women in the world from entering a discussion about feminism.
Who needs patriarchy…
What is often missed out in discussions about education is that education, while dominated by women, is actually dominated by white, middle class women.
My honest observation is that they behave no differently in maintaining their dominance within this sphere than men do in jobs they have traditionally dominated.
The criticisms made of Kathrine Birbalsingh (from a mixed Caribbean-Indian heritage) or Quirky Teacher (working class) are indicative of the intolerance and attitudes towards those who do not ‘fit’ the norm established.
Their views may not be those of the majority of teachers but are representative of many in ethnic minority and working class communities. Their views are regularly dismissed just because they are different.
Not that it’s enough to be white, middle class or female of course. Janet Hilary was vilified for what really amounts to thinking about the problems facing children in her school in a rational and logical manner. Her solutions worked for the children in her school. That some of these solutions enabled children who were on the SEN register to be taken off it, is some sort of hideous crime.
Are these women ‘aping’ masculine traits? Or they simply refusing the ‘ape’ the behaviours deemed acceptable by the type of ‘white’, ‘middle class’ ‘women’ who are teachers?
So let me get this right:
There is a ‘correct’ version of feminism.
This correct version is based on ideas and opinions of western feminists.
Anyone who disagrees is sexist.
Any cultural, social, class, race, religious, national, regional differences that may inform ones view are only acceptable so long as they fit the correct feminist narrative. Otherwise they are irrelevant and can be dismissed.
Any woman who exhibits ‘masculine’ traits (as decided by white middle class women of European ancestry) does so because they are trying to survive in a male dominated society (even if they belong to a community where to do so would not result in acceptance at all!)
Any woman who disagrees with the simple sorting of traits into masculine or feminine is deluded and therefore can be ignored or needs ‘re-education’ in order to be allowed a voice in any discussion of her gender.
Feminism has never looked so unappealing.