Education as Feminism (Nat Repinski)

Whenever I think about Feminism and the different aspects that go into this larger whole, I always think back to education. My first reading about feminism was a section of bell hooks’ Feminist Theory; From Margin to Center my then english teacher gave to me to read. This piece of writing has been very influential to me, and I believe this is an important piece to read as a feminist. The piece that I am referring to is ‘Chapter 8: Educating Women: A Feminist Agenda,’ I think the message of feminist education and in general education for all is important to everyone.

What you must know about me is that I am a cisgender white woman, who grew up in a privileged household of two loving heterosexual parents, never had to worry about finances, went to a private catholic all-girls high school, and now in college. When I read this chapter I was 15.

With all these privileges in mind, this chapter really shook me. While bell hooks went into the nitty gritty details of education between class and race, one thing is for certain, everyone should be able to read and write. A basic right. To fix illiteracy in our nation, we must take it upon ourselves to go door to door educating women about women issues, which is what hooks proposes as one solution. I think a more 21st century way of doing this is through social media with posting and sharing feminist videos, memes, posts, anything having to do with feminist philosophy. While the internet is still a privilege to have, a lot of people still have access to it. We need to continue talk about feminism because it’s messed up that women get paid less than men, that our bodies are regulated, we are not taken as seriously, we are seen as the other, men have to deal with toxic masculinity, it is still a crime in some countries to love who you love, it is still legal in all 50 states in America to get married under the age 18, we are spending money on mensuration products and then taxed, that transgender women are still not seen as women, and overall it’s messed up that there is a stigma when we decide to express ourselves how we want to.

One reason that hooks says that being more personable with talking about feminism is because “feminist education has become institutionalized in universities via women’s studies programs.” And universities cost money, like, a lot of money. With access to the internet there are more resources that are free because there are souls out there putting them online for free. (You just have to use discretion from downloading a virus). bell hooks also writes that “value of a feminist work should not be determined by whether or not it conforms to academic standards.” I like to view this as, while it is good there are academic writings, as feminists, we are trying to lift everyone up and academic areas can be exclusionary. In addition, during the time of this writing majority of feminist scholars were bourgeois white women, and let’s be real here, if we’re gonna dismantle the oppression that is patriarchy, we need EVERYONE on board. Which means we need to know the different struggles everyone faces in order to understand it and then do something about it.

So it brings me back to my original thought, education. Everyone should get the education they want to get without obstacles of money, because it’s weird to monetize knowledge. Everyone should be able to know or learn about whatever they want. And reading about education from a feminist perspective is awesome, there is a need of a call to action because there is an injustice and this needs to be fixed. After all education is a “practice of freedom” (this is from Paulo Freire, he’s a pretty cool guy to look up).