Negotiating feminist interests in elementary and secondary schools
Brannon, Lynn Villyard
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This study explored how women educators negotiate feminist inte rest s in elementary and secondary schools.Three research quest ions guided the study:1)What issues ar e raised by feminist educators?2)What factors constrain and/or enable action?3)What specific strategies are used in negotiation of feminist interests in schools?|The data revealed feminist educators raised issues of sexual harassment,battery and sexual discrimination.Three main categories of factors that constrained or enabled action were identified:1)ideological beliefs stemming from the ideology of patriarchy manifesting as denial that gender is an issue;the schools rejection of responsibility for dealing with sexism;and a blame the victim mentality.T he second facto r found to c onstrain or enable act ion was t he politics of patriarchy.The third factor found to constrain or enable action was personal characteristics,including a moral imperative to act,political awareness,and personal credibility. Data further revealed that feminist educators engaged three main strategies in the negotiation of feminist interests:defensive strategies,offensive strategies,and proactive strategies.|Three main conclusions were d rawn fro m the stud y.Firs t,pat riar chy marks the soc ial life of schools and proved to be the most formidable opponent in negotiation of feminist interests. Second,that politics matter in negotiation of feminist interests was clearly illustrated in that most participants failed to account for political realities and subsequently fell short of their aims.Third, that successful negotiation of feminist interests in schools requires the engagement of all three types o f strat egies because each makes its o wn unique contr ibution. However, more at tent ion and emphasis needs to be given to pro-active strategies than is presently demonstrated because in their engagement lies the greater potential for disruption of the status quo.