Gender politics taught in UK schools is indoctrination not education
Yvette Cooper rocked the gender political boat last week by saying we should raise our sons as â€œconfident feministsâ€ http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/com ... 88177.html
writes Glen Poole.
Chris Maume at the liberal left newspaper, The Independent ,agreed (http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/com ... 98890.html
). He declared, as confidently as a boy feminist: â€œShould we be teaching boys to be feminist? [The] answer, naturally, is a resounding â€˜Yes.â€™ And really, who could argue with that? Rod Liddle, possibly, but nobody in their right mind.â€
Over at the conservative Spectator magazine, Lara Prendergast had a different view (http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/lara-prend ... feminists/
). â€œSchool shouldnâ€™t be a place where you indoctrinate pupils to believe a particular ideology,â€ she said. â€œAnd feminism, for all its admirable achievements in the 20th century, is an ideology.â€
These left vs right disagreements about gender politics are not unique to the UK. In France, a left-wing programme promoting the teaching of â€œgender theoryâ€ was dropped last month after a concerted campaign by right wingers and traditionalists led to parents removing their children from school.
On one side, advocates like Simon Massei, whose article â€œFrance gives way to opponents of â€˜gender theoryâ€™ in schoolsâ€ is published at insideMAN today (http://www.inside-man.co.uk/2014/07/14/ ... n-schools/
), claim that the idea of the ABCD de lâ€™Ã©galitÃ© programme was simply to teach children that some differences between the sexes are biological, but others are socially constructed.
Meanwhile, opponents of the programme like the Catholic Group Civitas, claim that â€œan unnatural and perverse ideologyâ€ is being taught as early as pre-school â€œunder the guise of equality and â€˜the fight against homophobiaâ€™â€.
Some of these arguments are redolent of the struggle over section 28 of the Conservativeâ€™s Local Government Act of 1988, which prohibited schools from teaching â€œthe acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationshipâ€. Looking back at this period of recent history, the Conservative MP Francis Maude said in 2012 that â€œin hindsight, it was very wrong â€” very wrong. It was a legislative provision that came out of honourable motives. It took me some time to realise what an emblem of intolerance Section 28 had become for gay people. It was the tip of a deep iceberg â€” the iceberg below the surface being a host of anti-gay social attitudes.â€
In the eighties and nineties leading conservatives were convinced they were right to ensure all children were NOT taught that homosexuality is an acceptable form of family relationship. Today, leading thinkers on the left are convinced that it right to ensure that boys are NOT raised to be anything other than feministsâ€”and they believe â€œnobody in their right mindâ€ could think any differently.
But people do think differentlyâ€”and not just the usual suspects on the right. In France one of the leading campaigners against the teaching of feminist gender theory in schools is, Farida Belghoul, a writer and filmmaker of Algerian descent who was the main spokesperson for the March for Equality and Against Racism.
In the UK, the former feminist and gender equality consultant, Karen Woodall dismissed Yvette Cooperâ€™s calls for boys to be raised as feminists in no uncertain terms (http://karenwoodall.wordpress.com/2014/ ... te-cooper/
) saying: â€œThe rights of boys are equal to those of girls and it is not for feminists to determine what makes a â€˜good boyâ€™ or a â€˜good girlâ€™ either for that matter. Feminism is not synonymous with equality, much as the feminists would have us believe that it is so and it does not and cannot solve the problems of the world in which we are raising our children and grandchildren.â€
Another opponent of Yvette Cooperâ€™s proposal to teach boys to be feminists is the 17-year-old sociology and politics student and YouTube broadcaster, Josh Oâ€™Brien. In a video recorded for insideMAN he says: â€œMy issue is not that it is feminism that she wishes to be forced upon children, it is that she thinks it is the place of a school to indoctrinate any political belief.â€
Joshâ€™s suggestion that children should be given information for and against different beliefs and the critical thinking skills to form an opinion themselves, seems like an eminently sensible idea.
One project thatâ€™s already working with boys in schools on the issue of gender equality is the Great Men Value Women project. According to one of their male volunteers, Folarin Akinmade, â€œfeminism is just about being a decent human being. Itâ€™s so much more simple than people make it.â€
Is it really that simple? Experience suggests that the world of gender and gender politics is deeply and deliciously fascinating and complex. Itâ€™s complex because there are many different genders and gender identities and there are many different forms of gender politics.
No politician should seek to dictate what gender identity a British citizen can or canâ€™t adopt and at the same time, no MP should seek to impose his or her own gender politics on every boy in the country. But why not teach boys about gender, gender issues and gender politics in schoolâ€”from all perspectives, not just a feminist viewpointâ€”and let them make up their own minds what they want to believe?
Written by Glen Poole author of the book Equality For Men http://www.inside-man.co.uk/2014/07/14/ ... k-schools/