Feminist education: girls and boys, same education!

Feminist education, promoted as early as 1914 by the suffragette Madeline Pelletier, is more and more demanded by some parents. It is based on equal rights for girls and boys, while respecting their temperament and tastes.
When you're a parent, you want your child to have as many rights as possible, for your daughter to live in a world where she's not considered less and paid less because she's a girl," exclaims Lucile Bellan, podcaster, and author of Petit traité d'éducation féministe (2021, Leduc Editions). This is going in the direction of the future, we are planting seeds for the future with equal rights."

The word feminist may frighten: "it is not a question of inculcating in his children the culture of feminism but to contribute to creating a more egalitarian and therefore more just society, reassures the author. Feminist education is more about respecting the child and also the parents."

From gendered education to education that respects tastes and desires

"We live in a gendered society, which means that women and men are opposed," explains Lucile Bellan in her book. "This binary education, which seems quite harmless, has no other purpose than to assign a very precise place to women, and another to men, in our society. It consists of the practice of raising boys and girls differently, according to their gender and social norms.

While some children will not suffer from this, others will not experience it well. "The gendered education can be a small prison for some children, who will suffer from the stereotypes because they will have to comply with them against their tastes and their personality, warns Lucile Bellan. They will have to deconstruct these stereotypes to reinvent their identity or they will be bridled."

In contrast, feminist education promotes equal rights and freedoms as well as a great deal of respect for the child's tastes and desires. A boy will play with dolls and wear pink if he feels like it, while a girl will play with games long reserved for boys and dress as she likes. But feminist education goes far beyond wardrobe and games; it also addresses the values unconsciously transmitted by gender.

"You have to think about the way you talk to your child and realize that naturally, you convey stereotypes," advises the author. It's good to tell your son that he's pretty or sensitive!" It's also pushing him to develop empathy, a value often considered feminine, and telling his daughter that she is strong by encouraging her self-confidence.

The importance of critical thinking and dialogue

Feminist education also means asking certain questions: who is my child and how should I adapt to him? It starts with consent. "We no longer force a very shy child to say hello by an intimate physical contact, as an obligatory kiss to someone we don't know", Lucile Bellan also recommends. If learning politeness is unavoidable, forcing the child can be counterproductive.

"The culture will be a source of discussion in order to develop the child's critical sense, analyzes the author. It is to go in the direction of the child at his pace but also to show him that the cultural possibility is richer. Some platforms, such as Benshi, are interesting because they offer a selection of films and short films from many different countries and backgrounds. The Netflix and Universciné platforms are also interesting. If the child doesn't like it, we stop and try something else." Some blogs are teeming with ideas, such as Fille d'album.

Parents set the example. Dividing up household tasks according to tastes and skills, rather than gender, is preferable. And dialogue on all subjects, including sexuality, is encouraged from an early age and adapted to the child's personality. There is already a huge article and essay database on the subject.  It will obviously be age-appropriate. Without this dialogue, discussions about school problems and abuse will be more difficult if we are not used to talking and if we don't know how the other person will react," says Lucile Bellan. But if we're used to doing it, we'll be more confident to dialogue about a subject that bothers us."

Equality, respect, and dialogue are thus the cornerstones of feminist education.
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