Introduction

In simple terms, feminism is the advocacy for equal rights and opportunities for all genders. Women have been viewed by many as the “weaker” sex for hundreds of years, but over the past few decades, particularly the past five years, women have been fighting again for their voices to be heard. From the fight for women’s suffrage to women’s marches to the #MeToo Movement, progress has been made regarding treating all genders equally, but there is still a long way to go, as women are continuously paid less than their equal male counterparts and often ignored or silenced in cases of sexual assault and/or domestic violence. By teaching students about feminism, educators are not only promoting equal rights for all genders but are also debunking the idea that “feminism” is a bad word, or even controversial.

Resources

There are many valuable resources available online for teaching students about feminism and gender equality. Feminism is often given a negative connotation, but feminists are simply fighting for equality between men and women, which is long overdue. The resources below will help you in your journey of teaching students about feminism, women’s rights, and equality.

Lesson Plans

  1. Women on the March – A Lesson Plan on Imagining the Future of Feminism: The New York Times provides a lesson plan on imagining the future of feminism for Women’s History Month. This lesson first includes a warm-up in which students will work in pairs and create a word web to define the word “feminism” before sharing key words, examples, or ideas from their word webs for the collaborative whole-class semantic map. As a second warm-up activity, students will participate in a human barometer activity that encourages students to think about what their definition of feminism really means in practice by responding to controversial statements related to feminism and its role in society. The main activity calls for students to read four excerpts from Susan Chira’s piece “Feminism Lost. Now What?” and answer a series of questions individually and later as an entire class. If educators are looking for additional material, there are resources available below the lesson requiring students to consider intersectionality and feminism, research current issues in feminism, and more. This lesson has everything you need to teach your students about feminism and its future in the United States!
  2. LESSON PLAN – ‘Feminism is for Everybody’: Celebrating Women’s History Month and How Gender Intersects with Other Identities: This lesson plan from DiversityIS celebrates Women’s History Month and how gender intersects with other identities. The lesson “suggests learning activities that honor and celebrate diverse perspectives. It can be used as a blueprint for an actual lesson or serve as a more general source of inspiration for teachers and administrators.” By taking part in these activities, students will discuss feminism, understand that men can also be feminists, and learn about feminists Kimberlé Crenshaw and bell hooks. Unlike other lessons included on this topic resource page, this resource is more of an outline that educators can use to guide them in the classroom rather than a set of directions for them to follow and specific materials to utilize.

Articles

  1. What Is Feminism, And Why Do So Many Women And Men Hate It?: Forbes has published an article explaining feminism and the reasons why so many women and men hate it. Kathy Caprino, the author, says that feminism at its core is about equality of men and women, not “sameness” because “men and women don’t have to be the ‘same’ in physicality to have the right to equality.” She offers a few different questions we should ask ourselves to gain a deeper understanding of where we personally stand on the issue of equality. Next, Caprino argues that there are five critical reasons behind why so many hate the term “feminism” and “the feminist movement,” including the fact that many fear feminism will mean that men will eventually lose out and believe feminists want to control the world and put men down. This article touches upon several different issues that will be useful for students to read about (i.e. unconscious gender bias) and does a good job describing the different views on feminism.
  2. What Teaching Feminism Looks Like in My Middle School Classroom: We Are Teachers provides an article discussing what teaching feminism looks like in one educator’s classroom. The author gives readers background information on what their class looks like before jumping into how they teach their students about feminism. This educator advises others to choose reading materials deliberately, always be conscious of gender bias in the classroom, actively call out bigotry from both teachers and students, and point out inequality and misconceptions. Ultimately, this article will help educators better understand how to create a positive class environment while teaching about feminism and gender equality.
  3. What Should K-12 Students Learn About Feminism?: Resilient Educator offers tips for educators on what K-12 students should learn about feminism. The author recommends discussing feminism both as it is defined and perceived, using intersectionality to introduce students to feminism, responding to feminist thought by comparing and contrasting blogs, explaining that many people who believe they’re against feminism actually align with feminist goals, examining how rigid gender roles hurt both men and women, and more. This article will help educators decide what points are necessary to bring up in their discussion about feminism!

Informational Sites

  1. What is Feminism?: IWDA, a feminist organization, answers a few important questions about feminism. The organization explains what feminism means to them, where intersectionality comes in, whether anyone can be a feminist, and why feminism doesn’t mean one person’s experiences are more important than another. The information on this page will give both educators and students a general overview of feminism and its role in modern society.
  2. What Feminism Means Today: The American Psychological Association has published a brief article explaining what feminism means today. Included in this article is an interview from gradPSYCH where a group of feminists in psychology answer questions regarding the future of feminism. Students will learn the ins and outs of feminism and the changes that need to be made from the experts!
  3. Feminism: History.com provides an abundance of valuable information related to feminism. By reading this article, students will learn about early feminists, the first wave of feminism, the 19th Amendment, women and work, the second wave of feminism, the third wave of feminism, the #MeToo Movement, and Women’s Marches.

Conclusion

Teaching students about feminism won’t be an easy task, especially because the general assumption is that men cannot be feminists, which is definitely untrue! However, by teaching students about feminism, educators are providing them with the opportunity to better understand the inequalities often present between men and women. Ideally, students will go on to advocate for women’s rights and gender equality in some way because there are so many things we can do in our everyday lives to combat gender discrimination! Little things can make a big difference!

Additional Resources

  1. How To Teach … Feminism: The Guardian provides their guide for teaching students about feminism and women’s rights. The author recommends various activities, including worksheets, timelines, lesson plans, and photo packs, for both primary and secondary school students. Many of these resources will come in handy in the classroom! 
  2. Video Lesson Plan – Equal Rights & Feminism: Edpuzzle’s Equal Rights Certification Course contains four different modules (What is feminism?, Human rights, Get inspired, What can you do?) which consist of video lessons and corresponding comprehension questions on the subjects of equal rights and feminist history. 
  3. What’s the Definition of Feminism? 12 Talks That Explain It To You: TEDBlog provides a list of twelve different TED Talks which will help students understand the definition of feminism. Each talk is accompanied by an explanation of the points the speaker makes, which will help educators to decide which talks to show students in the classroom.