Ileana Jimenez Addresses Student Activism and Feminism

Ileana Jiménez, who is widely known as the “Feminist Teacher,” presented her work on teaching activism and feminism, focusing specifically on intersectionality, during a Brace Center workshop held in the Office of Community and Multicultural Development on Monday.
Jiménez has been a leader in the field of feminist and social justice education for the past 18 years.

In hopes of inspiring teachers to bring women’s and gender studies to the K–12 classroom, Jiménez started a blog called “Feminist Teacher” in 2009. Jiménez is also the creator of the #HSfeminism and #K12feminism hashtags.

“The reason I started this blog was because I felt really alone. I thought, ‘Who else is trying to teach feminism in high school classrooms?’ I wanted to engage other teachers to create a community between us,” said Jiménez during the workshop.

“I wanted to make women studies, queer studies [and] ethnic studies viable fields of study for schools. It shouldn’t just be the domain of colleges and universities,” she continued.
In her presentation, Jiménez urged students to participate in public speaking, civic engagement and activism and to form partnerships with other activists and academics in their community.

“I really believe that student activists need as many opportunities to do speaking on panels, doing underground activism, appearing in the media. My students have done all those things, and I want [Andover students] to get the opportunity to do so as well,” Jiménez added.

Jiménez encouraged students to question themselves and begin the process of self-actualization. She also urged students to find adult allies around the school who can intervene with higher powers on the students’ behalves if necessary.

Jiménez has been teaching courses on feminism, queer literature, Toni Morrison and memoir writing for 18 years at Little Red School House and Elizabeth Irwin High School (LREI) in New York, NY. As an English teacher, she has students blog about issues they care about, such as rape culture, reproductive rights and media representation.

“In many ways, the blogging in [my] class allows students to create a platform and digital citizenship to create new work in the future. The reason I had them create this blog is because so much of feminism and activism is happening online. With a blog of a website, they are contributing to the discourse and conversation,” said Jiménez.

Beyond her own students, Jiménez hopes to educate young people around the nation about the importance of learning about women’s studies, gender studies, queer studies and ethnic studies.

“My theory is that if we could bring women, gender, queer and ethnic studies to schools, we could eliminate racism and sexism, or at least diminish them. I think that if we taught these subjects at high schools across the nation, we wouldn’t be seeing issues like sexual assault across campus,” said Jiménez.

Corinne Singer ’15 said she attended the presentation because of her interest in feminist activism and collaborating with other activist groups to create empowerment and effective change.

“[Jiménez] has taught me that we, as students, hold a tremendous amount of power as activists seeking to make change. We simply have to explore and develop the ways in which we access the influence required to deconstruct systems of oppression in order to create the inclusive world we desperately need,” said Singer.

“I enjoyed this workshop because it focused on intersectionality within feminism, which is something I am very passionate about. Every single person is multifaceted, so no one can be generalized by just one of his or her identifiers,” said audience member Rosie Poku ’17.