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Fighting Misogyny: What Can I Do?

Let me be clear. I’m not waving my hands helplessly in the air saying, “There’s nothing I can do, leave me alone!” This is a sincere request for ideas.

If you don’t follow news in the same circles I do, here’s a quick summary: In science-fiction particularly, female authors aren’t always treated as equals by their not-so-female peers. There have been similar “kerfuffles” in the gaming community. And if you check out @EverydaySexism on Twitter, you can see that it’s a dishearteningly widespread issue across all communities.

As an author, I have some ideas about how I can be pro-female (without being anti-male), how I can keep an eye out, how I can speak up. During the school year, though, I spend five days a week with teens between 13 and 15 years old. I feel like I should be doing something to address issues of sexism with those students, especially since the gaming-community issues often seem to be attributed to boys in that age group.

But how?

I’ve talked a few times about an individual who exhibited definite negative behavior. I pulled him aside, had talks with him, made it clear it wasn’t acceptable … and madeĀ some progress. But most students are smart enough to avoid super-overt displays of misogyny in my classroom.

One-time “serious” class discussions don’t always do very much. As a student, I know I tuned them out, waiting for the teacher to get back to the “real” lesson. Changing behavior and views takes time, right?

So does teaching math, and I clearly can’t throw that out the window. Honestly, when I get going on the math, it’s easy to get one-track about it, so it would be good to know what kind of concerted effort I should be making.

Is it a matter of modeling? Consistency in my own speech and behavior? Seizing on those teachable moments when they pop up and taking five minutes for them? (For instance, any time a boy uses a word like “girl” as though it’s an insult.)

I want to do what I can in my own little sphere of influence. It just feels so big, and I don’t know where to start.

Any ideas?

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