Trying to start a feminist club

Recently I decided to start a feminist club at my high school. I decided to do this after the following incident;

I was suffering from severe clinical depression. As is often so with clinical depression, I wanted to kill myself. Not knowing who to turn to, I called the children’s helpline. I was having difficulties with my bi-polar mother at the time. I told the man on the phone that she hit me, locked me in rooms, screamed swearwords across the house, etc. He said that “that sounds like a typical woman.” He then proceeded to try to convince me not to go to university, and that I should instead focus on “marrying young and trying to be a good wife.” When I said that that was very disrespectful, he angrily said that he hoped I would end up a bitch like my mother because “women always do.” Then he hung up the phone, saying that if I killed myself it would be “one less woman for men to deal with”.

It broke my heart. I told a few people, but no one believed me. The only people who understood were my feminist teacher and my pro-feminist dad. I realized then that misogyny is more rampant and more serious than I previously thought. So a few weeks after this incident, I went to the principal’s office and asked if I could start a feminist group at our school. Our school has many rights groups; gay, muslim, black, etc, but surprisingly does not have a women’s rights group. So the principal sent me to the teacher that was in charge of managing all the clubs and associations in our school. If you want to start a group, you have to get his approval.

I told him I wanted to start a feminist group and he said, “No,” because apparently we would do nothing but “man-bashing”. I told him feminists don’t hate men, only misogynists. He didn’t believe me. He said that misogyny isn’t “that bad” and “it’s not like anyone’s ever died for being a woman.” Again, a misogynist plays the misandry card against feminists.  So the feminist club was a no-go.

I think the key to eliminating anti-feminism is education because it is, like all prejudice, borne of ignorance. That’s what I wanted to use the club for- to educate the kids at my school. One of the kids in my school didn’t even know what a feminist was. Another said, “Feminists? Aren’t they those crazy girls that are always burning their bras?” {Epic facepalm}. I have absolutely no clue what to do now that this idea has been turned down. Do I go back there again and repeat my demand? Pass around a petition? Do I take it to the principal? The school board? I definitely want to try again in the fall, but I’m not sure how. Ideas?

Join the Conversation

  • Jacqueline Hentzen

    Start a club without his approval. Ask that pro-feminist teacher of yours if she’ll let you use her classroom at lunchtime (assuming that’s how the teaching system works in your school), invite as many people based on word of mouth, and then prove your school’s misogynist teacher wrong about feminism.

  • Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

    Yeah, to hell with that guy’s approval. And if you can’t get clearance to use school grounds, maybe you can’t arrange with other interested students to meet after school in a park or someone’s house, or if there’s a local community center that’s more supportive than your school?

    Also, I hope you can maybe get your Dad or someone to help you look into the person at the children’s hotline? That sounds incredibly unprofessional, and potentially harmful depending on the state of mind of someone who might call and get such a nasty person.

    • Brittany

      I agree. That’s very worrying. But they’re anonymous, both the caller and the person on the line. That makes it difficult.

      As for the club? I would confide about this to your feminist teacher. See if the teacher can help you repeat the demand. Look into school policies, and stick it right to the guy. If he still won’t back down, start the club underground and start the club off with a petition.

      • Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

        I know they’re anonymous, but is it possible with the date and time of the call the group might be able to check and see who was volunteering there then?

        If nothing else it may make the organization get stricter with their training or screening of who they let work the phones there.

  • Melanie

    Agreed with “screw that guy.” I’d say definitely try to partner up with that feminist teacher. Before trying to start the club “underground”, though, see if you can get feminist teacher’s help to research the school’s exact club policies and chain of command. Going over that asshole’s head sounds like a fabulous idea, but whether the best way is back to the principal, or maybe a vice-principal, or straight to the school board, probably depends a lot on the way the club policies are written. And, unfortunately, politics; feminist teacher might also have insights on which Big Shots are most likely to be sympathetic. Or whether the principal will ignore you until you’ve filled out some official appeal form. Or other technicalities like that.

    It’s encouraging that your school has so many other good clubs, so I would hope someone up the chain of command will be helpful. If not, though, then full steam ahead just starting it anyway. In feminist teacher’s room during lunch/after school, or if that’s too likely to get you guys in trouble (or feminist teacher isn’t okay with it) then somewhere off school grounds. Your first project could be collecting stories of misogyny and sexism you and your fellow students have encountered at school or elsewhere in the world? If people are willing to share, it could pack way more punch than a simple petition if you take those stories with your complaint to the principal/school board/whoever.