Schoolyard “feminist collectives” are springing up across the country as young women are presented with a grim picture of gender equality by a new wave of education programs that place “white, male privilege” and “hegemonic masculinity” at the root of family violence.
Northcote High School, Brunswick Secondary College, Suzanne Cory High, St Helena Secondary College and the independent Korowa Anglican Girls School in Melbourne have followed Fitzroy High School in establishing feminist collectives or clubs in recent times. South Australia’s Glenunga International High School also runs a feminism club that is offered to students as a co-curricular activity.
Meanwhile, schools throughout Victoria and the ACT and internationally in Argentina, Brazil and Berlin have taken up the Fitzroy High School Feminist Collective’s teaching resource, Fightback, despite concerns it simplifies the issue of violence in the community and potentially alienates boys and men.
As The Australian reported on Wednesday, teachers are being encouraged to develop feminist collectives as part of the Victorian Labor government’s $21 million Respectful Relationships program to tackle family violence, which promotes Fightback as a classroom resource for students from Year 9 upwards.
While heavily criticised by Victoria’s opposition, as well as several education experts, the program has attracted the support of Greens MP Adam Bandt and federal Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek, who said yesterday that “getting students talking about respectful relationships, including from a feminist perspective, is a great thing”.