Gender Studies in Hamilton High Schools

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Yesterday, I had the super exciting opportunity to chat with students from Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School.

Gender studies was added to the Ontario curriculum after years of hard work from a dedicated group of feminist activists in the Miss G Project.

The Miss G project began in January 2005 as the somewhat naive dream of a few students at the University of Western Ontario. Kickin’ around a dorm room, listening to tunes, and talking about high school experiences, it occurred to them that they had never encountered an introduction to studies of gender, its intersections with class, race, ability and sexual identity, and its implications in their high school education. Nor did they see women’s perspectives and experiences represented or included in the curriculum as anything more substantial than a tokenistic sidebar in a textbook.

We had a great chat about feminism, sexual assault, rape myths, victim blaming and effective strategies to end violence.

I promised the students that I would share all of the links, videos and articles that I mentioned in class:

  • The amazing PSA created by Rape Crisis Scotland that confronts and busts the lie that women ask for rape by what they are wearing:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h95-IL3C-Z8
  • Project Unbreakable which has pictures of survivors holding signs of with quotes from their abusers:
    project unbreakable
  • Then the awesome bloggers at Sociological Images compared quotes of abusers from Project Unbreakable to the lyrics of Robin Thicke’s song ‘Blurred Lines’:
  • HollaBack! Ottawa’s open letter to the women of Ottawa after there were a series of stranger rapes that were covered by the media:
    “How do we, as advocates, tell young women to protect themselves from their lab partners, their boyfriends, their prom dates, their classmates and their friends? We don’t. We tell men that sexual assault is wrong. We educate young men about consent. We build a society and community that respects women and sees them as equals, not as objects.
    We are deeply concerned for the women who have been hurt. We are deeply concerned about the messages coming from media, safety services and city officials about how to address the problem of sexual violence. We are deeply concerned that we live in a culture that silences those who speak out about sexual assault, shames women who have been assaulted; blames a woman for her assault; a justice system that consistently fails women.”
  • Salon’s article on “How to prevent rape without blaming women”:
    “The notion that the way you dress influences your chance of being raped is just one of the ways that we delude ourselves into believing that rape happens to other women – women who aren’t as smart or cautious.”
  • Ten Rape Prevention Tips:
  • These awesome young truth-speaking poets on the sexification of halloween:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXk3uhlhAVY
  • Awesome campaigns addressing sexual violence:
    It’s Time… To End Violence Against Women and Girls
    Draw The Line
    Don’t Be That Guy

It was awesome to get the chance to speak to a gender studies class in Hamilton, but I’m wondering if this class is being offered in any other high schools in Hamilton.Β  Does anyone else know of gender studies being offered in their school?

— erin, erin@sacha.ca

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