Vic High students (from right) Anna Grossi

Vic High students (from right) Anna Grossi

Feminism campaign sparks controversy at Vic High

Students in the gender and family studies class faced school-wide backlash to a school project about feminism.

When Vic High teacher Georgina Hope told students to post photos of themselves answering the question “We need feminism because,” she never thought it would spark a school-wide controversy.

The campaign was part of the gender and family studies class, consisting of more than 50 grade 11 and 12 students. The class focuses on self and society, feminism, construction of masculinity in the media, gender spectrum, human sexuality, eventually culminating in a gender fair.

Hope, who has been teaching at the high school for the past three years, started the class last year and has now expanded it to two blocks to accommodate high student enrolment.

The class is mostly-discussion based and features topics that students bring forward such as the Highway of Tears, transgender issues and how masculinity has affected their lives.

This semester, students were tasked with taking a photo of themselves sharing why they believe feminism is needed and posting the photos around the school.

Some of the answers included “I need feminism because slut shaming has yet to become a thing of the past, rape isn’t a joke, Hooters is still a restaurant, people still call it sexism.”

But shortly after, there was immense backlash to the campaign both in the school and on social media.

A group of students ripped down the posters, tore them up in the girls’ face and replaced them with several anti-feminism posters with “hateful language,” one of which included a photo of a decapitated woman. Students posted anti-feminism statuses and comments on Facebook as well.

The reaction took Hope and her class by surprise.

“The members of the class were very courageous. They allowed themselves to show vulnerability in those posters. Their faces were there and they were talking about their very personal reason of why they needed feminism,” Hope said. “At first my reaction was ‘okay, that stirred up some trouble, but it’s real and very authentic learning’. Then it escalated to a point where I became very concerned.”

Some students even felt threatened walking into their school.

“It shocked us into reality. Before we were just assuming most people at the school would have the same view point because we are such an alternative school,” said student Sera Davis-Russell. “We never thought it would have this sort of ripple effect.”

Echo Stephens, also a student, added none of the posters were offensive or mean.

“We never attacked anyone and then we got attacked,” she said, adding teachers, educational assistants and students were all talking about it for weeks after.

Despite the negative response to the campaign, the class agreed it was knee-jerk reaction from a lack of understanding and education about the feminist movement — something they hope to change.

“The controversy sparked a conversation for people who weren’t part of the direct confrontation,” said student Lily Macgregor. “A lot of other people got incredibly invested in it no matter what their opinion was, if they thought it was blown out of proportion or if this was a symptom of a larger problem. It started conversations.”

From the experience, the class hopes to educate fellow students with an educational panel to talk about feminism. They also agreed almost unanimously it’s a campaign that should happen again next year to raise awareness of the true meaning of feminism.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sidney Jon Blair said he would have died if a van and car had collided at the intersection of corner of Resthaven Drive and Brethour Avenue in early December. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney senior urges motorists to slow down on Resthaven Drive

Jon Blair said community must become more pedestrian-friendly

Bob Joseph, author of 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act, will be available for a Q&A through the Vancouver Island Regional Library Jan. 28. (Courtesy of Vancouver Island Regional Library)
Q&A on the Indian Act with Bob Joseph open to Greater Victoria residents

Bob Joseph is the author of 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act

Tarpaulin-covered tents sit next to one of the ponds in Beacon Hill Park. The location of the Meegan community care tent has still not been nailed down, as Victoria council rejected the recommendation offered by city staff. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Location of care tent for Victoria’s Beacon Hill campers still not settled

Council roundly rejects Avalon Road site, road’s edge on Cook Street appears the top alternative

Coaches with the Juan de Fuca Minor Hockey association have had to get creative during their weekly practices to keep players interested and improving their skills without physical contact. (Damian Kowalewich photo)
West Shore minor hockey coach shares what it’s like on the ice without parents, fans

Most practices consist of relay races, goalie shots and passing drills

The Songhees Wellness Centre is a symbol of First Nations strength in the region. Representatives of local First Nations will soon play a greater role in decision making and governance relating to the Capital Regional District. (Courtesy Royal Roads University)
Capital Regional District to add First Nations representatives to advisory committees

Board approves bylaw, looks forward to Indigenous input on future decisions

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

A 17-year-old snowmobiler used his backcountry survival sense in preparation to spend the night on the mountain near 100 Mile House Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 after getting lost. (South Cariboo Search and Rescue Facebook photo)
Teen praised for backcountry survival skills after getting lost in B.C.’s Cariboo mountains

“This young man did everything right after things went wrong.”

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No place for ‘far right’ in Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole says

O’Toole condemned the Capitol attack as ‘horrifying’ and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

Everett Bumstead (centre) and his crew share a picture from a tree planting location in Sayward on Vancouver Island from when they were filming for ‘One Million Trees’ last year. Photo courtesy, Everett Bumstead.
The tree-planting life on Vancouver Island featured in new documentary

Everett Bumstead brings forth the technicalities, psychology and politics of the tree planting industry in his movie

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)

Most Read