Male Teachers and Feminsim

Bella Druckman , Arts and Leisure Editor

Although men are sometimes excluded from the feminist revolution, many male teachers empower their female students and colleagues in their everyday lives.

The concept of feminism is a phenomenon that many men do not know how to handle. Patrick Winter, the head of the religious studies department at SICP, said he would consider himself a feminist “If I’m allowed to be, yes.” Winter does not want to tell the story for a group of people who have their own shared struggle and experience. Chris Hatem and Edward Juillard, teachers at Saint Ignatius College Prep, approach the concept of feminism differently by their definition. While Juillard is “unapologetically feminist,” Hatem said, “If a feminist is someone who strives for gender equity and greatly values the female perspective then, yes, I am a feminist. I hesitate to hastily call myself that because I don’t want to appropriate something that women have fought and sacrificed for their whole lives, but my respect and support of women and gender equity as a whole is total.”

Saint Ignatius opened its doors to women in 1979 and students experience classrooms with various economic, social, and gender backgrounds. Since then, female students have influenced their classrooms by providing new perspectives. Hatem said, “It is my job to empower everyone in the room to contribute and make the space representative of the whole class.”

Students in Hatem’s classes feel like their voices are heard. Jackie Baldwin ‘20 said, “Mr. Hatem always tries to maintain a fair classroom where everyone can feel like their voice is heard. Whenever the class is participating in discussion, he tries to call on everyone so that they can share their thoughts. If he feels like mostly the boys are participating, he’ll ask for more girls to share what they’re thinking.”

The female students are capable of voicing their thoughts without the aid of male teachers, but an adult ally in the classroom is beneficial. Juillard said, “The way any teacher opens up any group to use their voice is to affirm that group’s experience and unique perspective. As a teacher you try to draw out people to express those experiences to not only liberate that person, but to have all students learn from that person.”

Similarly, Winter said, “Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Not an irrational one, but if it’s rational and you can back it up with something, you can say whatever you got.” In this way, Winter ensures that all students feel safe in his classroom and a wealth of opinions can be heard.

Winter emphasized that a lot of texts students read in schools are written by white, male authors. Winter said, “You need to be able to see a little bit of yourself in that author or in whatever is is you’re doing.” Winter tries to vary the authors of the texts his students read and the music he listen to in class so every student is able to identity with at least one song or reading.

Through discussion, those ignorant of inequality can learn about the disparities that exist in society. Juillard said, “Women are marginalized by people who are committed to keeping the embedded systems of inequality in place. One way the dominant group marginalizes a group is by disparaging a word like ‘Feminist.’ People who do that fear the liberation of women socially and economically. The dominant group’s misappropriation of that term should be rejected for they either clearly don’t know what it means or they fear the equality of women.” By educating people about the correct way to approach feminism, the movement loses its negative connotation.

Due to inspiration from influential women in their lives, Hatem, Juillard, and Winter realize the important perspective that women bring to the world. Juillard received his feminist base from his mother and four sisters. When asked who the most influential woman in his life was, Winter immediately said his mother and said, “She taught me and continues to teach me what unconditional love is on an absurd level.” Although Hatem also was inspired by his mother, he finds inspiration from female colleagues like Wendy Schmiedeler.

Hatem is one of the moderators for SICP’s Club Vinyl and said, “I was looking back through a lot of the music I enjoyed this year and in recent memory and was shocked at what a large percentage of it was written or performed by women. I decided to make a playlist to send out so I could contribute something to the meeting and share some great music I truly loved.” Hatem empowers women through the positive reinforcement of their music as well.

Juillard said, “As a social justice activist, I am for the liberation of all people and for the destruction of the embedded structures of inequality that oppress women.” In a society where women continue to be marginalized each day, it is important that allies can be found in every aspect of everyday life, especially in schools.