The Power of Self Esteem

“He has endeavored, in every way that he could, to destroy her confidence in her own powers, to lessen her self-respect, and to make her willing to lead a dependent and abject life. Now, in view of this entire disfranchisement of one-half the people of this country, their social and religious degradation, in view of the unjust laws above mentioned, and because women do feel themselves aggrieved, oppressed, and fraudulently deprived of their most sacred rights, we insist that they have immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of the United States.”–Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Again, just a short post, as I’m swamped with reading assignments and papers to write for my classes (yay for being an English Ed major!).

The issue of young women and self-esteem is an issue very dear to me (as I am a woman and know what it’s like to feel like you aren’t worth anything). Though we could argue on and on about the place of moral/political instruction in the classroom, I don’t feel that helping young women to understand their worth and their right to equality with men is quite the same thing. The education system has long been a major force in the tracking of women into gender specific jobs, teaching women and men that strength and patience, power and kindness are opposites which creates the idea that women (as a whole) and men (as a whole) are suited to specific types of jobs instead of recognizing that each individual, regardless of gender, has strengths and weaknesses. Teaching our men that they can only be strong and women that they can only be meek is wrong, and I think it is necessary for teachers to consider whether or not they are teaching in such a way that reinforces these beliefs.

What are your thoughts on the issue? How do you teach or strive not to teach gender roles in your classroom? What do you think of Stanton’s words?

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