Sharpen Your Pencils: Back to School, Feminist-Style

by Elissa Heller, Membership Specialist

Ah, the dog days of summer, when brain rot has totally set into our nation's youth and they can no longer remember how to solve equations or identify the theme of a 19th century poem. But, a new school year is fast approaching, and it's time to get back into that school mindset. Among the many things kids will need to relearn, they should certainly review how to be a feminist at school. Here are some important issues to keep in mind as you, your daughter, or another girl in your life gets ready to go to back to the classroom.

First, girls can and should be encouraged to excel in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Not only is this good for girls, who are just as capable as boys in these areas, but bringing half of the population into these essential fields can only improve the quality and creativity of scientific work in this country. According to the American Association for University Women, girls' performance in STEM actually worsens when they come up against negative stereotypes of girls in math and science. Girls also tend to judge their abilities in STEM more harshly than boys, further decreasing their likelihood to pursue these subjects. Make sure the young women in your life know that STEM is not just for boys. The more they hear it, the more likely they are to believe it.

Another stereotypically "boy" arena for grade-schoolers is the sports field. However, since Title IX was passed in 1972, girls have been guaranteed the same opportunities as boys in all school programs and activities. Now every child has the ability to be part of a team, get exercise, build confidence, and learn how to lose gracefully. To evaluate whether your school is in line with Title IX, consider these questions used by the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights: "Is there unmet interest in a particular sport? Is there sufficient ability to sustain a team in the sport? Is there a reasonable expectation of competition for the team?" If the answer to all of these questions is "yes," then the school is not in compliance. Contact the Office for Civil Rights if there's a problem with the way your or your child's school is managing girls' and boys' sports.

You may not know that Title IX also deals with sexual violence. This legislation requires schools to take steps to address any cases that they know about or reasonably should know about, regardless of whether a criminal investigation is being pursued. An important part of this policy to be aware of is that schools must use the "preponderance of the evidence" standard when judging alleged cases of sexual violence, meaning that the incident only needs to be more likely than not to have occurred in order to merit a guilty verdict. Schools are also required to have a Title IX coordinator and must make this person's name known to all students. Find out who this person is, and if your school doesn't have one, make sure they know that it's the law.

A great way to kick off the school year would be to host an event at your school for NOW's annual Love Your Body Day! Even though bathing suit season is coming to an end, girls are still likely to feel self-conscious about their bodies. The mainstream media shoves images of over-sexualized, unhealthily-thin, and un-realistically Photoshopped women in our faces, as though these women represent the norm. NOW's Love Your Body Campaign asserts that women and girls are valuable for who they are and what they do, not whether they conform to the media's narrow portrayal of beauty. The Love Your Body website has lots of great ideas for how to make peace with your body and celebrate the holiday on Oct. 17. Be sure to order some free Love Your Body posters while you're there!

4 comments » Register or log in to leave a comment. [Log in] [Register...]

Comment from: david kimball [Member] Email
I'm sorry, I'm trying to leave a general comment, but I am only given this post to leave a comment.

Why aren't I hearing from NOW? I come to the site, and I see you are saying things. But it's only in an echo chamber. Can't NOW get out of the chamber and talk to the non-choir? I am disturbed about all of the War On Women that I see, and yet not seeing or hearing anything from NOW.

We need leaders - especially to fight at the State levels. We need leaders speaking up and even acting up to bring to light that this War On Women can't go on.

Please, don't continue to disappoint me. There are many, many women out there who will be more than disappointed if this War is allowed to rage on.

David Kimball
08/29/12 @ 08:34
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Comment from: Lisa Bennett, NOW Communications Director [Member] Email
For anyone who wants to send a general comment or question to NOW, please visit our main website at www.now.org, where we have a page that tells you how to contact us. If you're having trouble finding that page, here's a direct link: Write to NOW.

In regard to @david kimball's comment about NOW and the War on Women: NOW has indeed been very vocal in identifying and speaking out against the War on Women, for more than a year now. You can view NOW's statements on our main website, and our president and other national officers have been on national media numerous times over the past several months. We are reaching out to all voters as best we can, because we believe this to be a very critical time in our nation. Please also check out the pieces Terry O'Neill has been posting on the Huffington Post -- a new piece about Romney-Ryan's scheme to destroy Medicare should be going up very soon.
08/29/12 @ 09:44
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Comment from: annarasuna [Member] Email · http://griyamobilkita.wordpress.com
Nice article, thanks for the information.
09/05/12 @ 03:14
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Comment from: great barrier brief [Member] Email
MEDIA Dept: POST THIS for MUCH response! More WOMEN died from AIDS than Men from WAR 1984-2010 RIP***

Basic facts: Women still have NO PROTECTION beyond talking men into male condoms.

Our Government & MANY private individuals funded Big pHARMA to CURE AIDS. Much money was spent on research but NOT TESTED on WOMEN! NO medicines were tested on women for about ten years of copious input of funds.

NOTE: Latex is 4th most renewable substance in the world. Everyone should have access to it and it biodegrades easily.

The GREAT BARRIER Brief is a sheet of latex held between a man and woman during sex. FDA refused to issue what was called a 510K allowing any product to be brought to market that is "substantially the same as" and/or "has the same use as" products already on the market.

NOTE: Latex between humans is abundantly documented. De-regulation of all barrier methods is essential.

Go to: test.JANESWAY.net This name was used during NIH clinical trials held under Clinton administration. It's also described online as built to fit the inside of a woman, not the outside of a man.
Once people know, we organize and create licensed COOPERATIVES and make our protections ourselves. There's REARGUARD Latex protection too but no online info available.
NOTE: LATEX We give latex to those we love.
No corporate licenses to manufacture will be issued, to avoid others making profits from women and sex!!!
No more corporate mark-up on our private lives!!!
*** NIH STATISTICS ARE PREDICATED ON WHO SURVIVES WITH CERTAIN MEDICATIONS. THEREFORE it's nearly impossible to tell how many women had it and died, uncounted.
MEDIA persons: Please call me if you don't understand that the centre 4 dis-ease OBSERVATION does not control disease. The reporting changed, so no actual women's deaths are reported UNLESS they are using some medicine in a study. So it looks like "GAY MEN" caused this problem, and the women continue to die.....

02/13/13 @ 12:17
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