The Department for Education recently published proposals to remove the current teaching on feminism from the syllabus of the Politics A-level, along with the topics of sex/gender, gender equality, and patriarchy.
Instead, it proposes to include feminism, one of the most important and ongoing political movements in modern history, under the generic title of ‘pressure groups’ – along with the suffragettes. It’s not called HIStory by accident. Like thousands of others, I am incensed. In the year we finally get a party to campaign for women’s equality the UK government takes this very backwards and, frankly, hugely insulting step. Where do they get their ideas from? Oh, maybe it’s the male dominated parliament…? Give me strength.
Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, wrote a brilliant riposte in the Telegraph, some of which I am quoting below:
Those women who fought – and died – for the vote, were not a ‘pressure group’, any more than the radicals who were killed at the Peterloo massacre in 1819.
Like those men in Manchester who were campaigning for parliamentary reform, the suffragettes sought enfranchisement. Like those men, they wanted political representation as a basic right. Like those men, their efforts were deeply and unequivocally political.
And yet, unlike those men, they are not listed on the proposed syllabus under ‘democracy and participation’.
By removing feminism as a separate topic, the proposed new syllabus will eliminate study of sex and gender, gender equality and patriarchy.
It’s a telling example of the gender bias so prevalent in our education system, and in our culture.
It also proposes to remove teaching on the distinctive features of liberal feminism, socialist/Marxist feminism and radical feminism, and more recent formulations of what we might call feminism’s ‘fourth wave’.
In short, it will stop teaching women’s politics.
We cannot accept that. We cannot accept that the new syllabus contains only one explicit reference to a woman – Mary Wollstonecraft – alongside a list of male politicians, activists and philosophers. It’s a telling example of the gender bias so prevalent in our education system, and in our culture.
The political history currently taught to our children is hugely biased in favour of men’s achievements and institutions.
And she ends:
There is time to add your voice to the e-consultation document to persuade the Government to drop these proposed changes (https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/gcse-and-a-level-reform-geology-and-politics-pe-short-course). We have until December 15 to remind our politicians, once again, that we will no longer stand for the silencing of women’s voices.
Complete a response form and either
- Email to:
- Write to:
- Rebecca Viney
Department for Education, 2nd floor
Great Smith Street,
I’ve penned my strong objections to this , and if you feel strongly about how women are represented, I hope you will too.
Posted on November 20th, 2015 by Jane