You all probably know the poem,
- “First they came for [group of people] and I did not speak out, because I was not [part of that group of people]...
- then they came for…
- and then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.
You all probably know the poem,
This Declaration of Sentiments, modeled on the original, was written by the Humanities 7 class along with the middle school girls from Bancroft School, Center School, Eaglebrook School, Four Rivers Charter Public School, Hampshire Regional School, and Hilltop Montessori School who attended their Convention on Women's Rights on January 9, 2017.
She was about six. Pink was the dominant colour, from the shoes on her crossed feet to the bow in her hair. But the white letters stood out on the black t-shirt, announcing she was “training to smash the patriarchy.” I clicked to “Like” the photo and commented that, very loosely paraphrased, that’s basically the mission of our school. One person told me that was awesome and asked where I worked. And most everyone was supportive of the mom who had posted the picture.
This past Saturday, at a memorial service for a college friend, I shared stories of her ability to stand up for herself “with just the right touch of defiance,” of her deep seated insistence on being her own authentic self, of her feminist affirmation of women.
During the all-school meeting last Friday in which we held an open discussion about the range of thoughts and feelings following the election, one of our students shared her belief that women as a whole need to believe in themselves and their gender more strongly than they now do. After the meeting, I came across this quote (abridged here) shared on Gloria Steinem's Facebook page: “So while I do not pray for anybody or any party to commit outrages, still I do pray, and that earnestly and constantly, for some terrific shock to startle the women of this nation into a self-respect which will... give them the courage and conscience to speak and act for their own freedom, though they face the scorn and contempt of all the world for doing it.” I shared it with that student, wanting her to know not only that her voice had been heard but also that she had echoed the thoughts of a feminist icon.
Before you keep reading, I’d like to invite you to read a piece my friend Christina Torres wrote for Teaching Tolerance entitled “We Can’t Dismantle What We Can’t See: Teaching Concepts of Masculinity.”
<pause>Done? Good. Thanks.
This year, Seniors have more leadership opportunities than ever. The position of “Student Council President” has been renamed “Head of Student Body,” and we have created a number of other student headships. This means that through the spring, all-school housemeetings are filled with speeches by students hoping to become Head of Student Activities, Head of Athletics, Head of Big and Little Sisters, Head of Service, Head of Community Alliance, Head of Curriculum, and Head of Health and Wellness. Besides meeting in a group with our Dean of Students, Kristen Peterson, who guided the development of this program, they will coordinate with adults in the school who are also responsible for these different areas. For example, the Head of Curriculum will meet regularly with Academic Dean Alex Bogel and also participate in Curriculum Committee meetings, while the Head of Community Alliance will meet regularly with the advisors to the Gay-Straight Alliance and Students of Colour affinity group, and so on.
So it only took one Kentucky school district two days to send the first student home for a dress code violation. Surprise of surprises, it was a girl. Her violation was wearing a tank top with a cardigan (which would be within the Stoneleigh-Burnham dress code), which meant her collarbone was not covered up, which meant she was potentially distracting boys. (Kim) To principal Rob Akers’s credit, he agreed to meet with a group of students, and they’ve come up with proposed changes to the dress code that went before the school board two days ago (Ilyashov & Woodford County High School). Reportedly, a committee is seeking additional input, and will bring the proposal back before the Board next Monday.
I’m still on the email list for the 9th grade class, so when Eni ‘18 shared the agenda for Wednesday’s class meeting, I received a copy of the email. She also included a link to a Buzzfeed video, “I Am Not That Girl.” Curious, I clicked on the link, and found a video that began with a litany of insecurities that takes up over half of its 2’16”: “I’ve never been That Girl… That girl who knows how to flirt properly. That girl who knows how to put on make-up flawlessly. That girl who can post a photo to Instagram and not find a million insecurities lurking at the tips of her fingers as she presses the “Share” button...” Being judged and judging herself is not limited to her flaws, especially as subjected to a heteronormative male gaze, for “I know that I shouldn’t let these things define my femininity… And I’m always forced to ask myself, ‘What’s wrong with me?’” Eventually, though, the video shifts tone: “But maybe it’s because I was never destined to be That Girl. Maybe it’s because I was destined to be something more…”