I promise I'll be back to church-focused blogging soon. But I have feminism on my mind still.
(By the way, check out Lauren's post on the Kobe Bryant dismissal. Good stuff).
For those who are curious, here's a little something I do:
In my women's history classes, we always begin with working through sexist and racist language. After all, we need to acknowledge the ways in which our words subtly and not-so-subtly reinforce gender inequities. I try and illustrate that in several ways, but I'll just share a couple of the most effective ones.
We spend a few minutes talking about insults, particularly race and sex-based insults. I then ask my students to insult me based upon my race, class, gender, faith, and sexual orientation. I'm obviously a white male from an educated middle-class background. I tell them I'm a heterosexual Episcopalian. What word do they have that really targets me? Students throw out "cracker" and "redneck", but quickly realize that those are terms for a specific class of whites. My mostly non-white, female students, are frustrated that there are no words in English at their disposal to hurt me for "who I am".
I then ask them to imagine that I am an immigrant lesbian of color. Without saying the words out loud, I ask them to count in their heads how many hateful words they have in their arsenal to "hurt" such a person. The students start to shake their heads ruefully. They start to "get it." I'm fond of saying at this point that the old line
Sticks and stones may break my bones
But words can never hurt me.
can be said far more authentically by straight white Christian males than by anyone else! Folks who look like me, make love like me, and believe as I do have created a language that in both formal and slang speech has few weapons to single us out, except by calling us what we are not.
Later on, we always talk about sex ed books; you know, the sort everyone has in health class. I do something that I first saw done by a feminist professor of anthropology I had at Cal in 1986; I write two words on the board:
I pause, and ask if these are the words they've been taught are appropriate non-slang terms for sexual intercourse. They nod in agreement. I then write two more words:
And I just let them absorb it, watching the grins start to spread across the classroom (along with a few blushing faces). I always ask if any of them have ever seen a sex ed textbook that used those latter two verbs; I've never had an affirmative answer. They don't even need to be asked about the importance of the distinction between the two sets of simple, descriptive terms.
Look, these are both pedagogical gimmicks. But it sure helps to get the dialogue started.