EDPS 360 (A2) Fall 2013

Do women need to be freed from oppression?

In Uncategorized on November 28, 2013 at 10:04 am

(by Brent, Kim, Savannah, Yvonne)

About the Author:

Linda Briskin is presently the Professor Emeritus at York University, in Toronto, in the Department of Social Science and the School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies. Briskin has been a lifelong activist. “Her work addresses unions, globalization and women’s power, union renewal, equity bargaining/bargaining equity, worker militancies, pedagogies and power, and privileging agency: a strategy for women’s studies in troubled times” (York University). She also worked for sometime as a high school teacher. As Briskin footnotes in her paper, this article was originally written as a keynote address for “the symposium of the Coalition for Equity in Science, Mathematics, and Technology” at Glendon College, in 1989 (Briskin, 1994, p.443). It was then revised and published, in 1990 and 1994 (Briskin, 1994, p.443).


About the Article:

In her article Briskin tackles the concept of feminist pedagogy and the “acknowledgement of women’s oppression”, which seems to have some freirean inspiration (Briskin, 1994, p. 443). Briskin looks at contradictions women face in their various roles, as learners, teachers, feminists, and activists/change-makers. Briskin tackles three sets of contradictions: in the messages women carry around, in their experience as educators, and in their experience as activists. Out of these three contradictions emerge three strategies: teaching leadership, promoting anti-sexism (as opposed to the flawed strategy of non-sexim), and reclaiming feminism in the classroom, situating the classroom in the greater context of the world outside it.


The first set of contradictions about women is in their messages; we can see this as devaluation mothering, and that women need to be protected by men due to their inherent weak nature, and also that women do not receive equal education because they are viewed as “prey”. The contradictions of women’s’ experiences as educators is that students may not see a female teacher as of much of an authority figure as a male teacher. This creates more a of challenge for feminist as students might not see them as equals. The contradictions of women as effective change makers, this idea is that to change the world as well as ourselves we must develop our individuality. The ability for students to have the desire for change, and be able to act on it.

The three coping strategies that Briskin identifies would help with changing the dynamic of the classroom or school. The first strategy teaching leadership focuses on changing the power dynamic rather than sharing it, also with this strategy one would teach through liberal ways. Believing that by teaching good attitudes it could potentially erase discrimination. The second method is anti-sexism which focuses on empowering students through knowledge. This strategy makes gender and issue in the classroom and get students to think about relationships of power. The third coping strategy is reclaiming feminism in the classroom this is to promote social change and making connections outside of the classroom with your students. It is less about the individual and more about collective strategies to enable students to understand the issues.

Briskin discusses the standpoints of Feminist Pedagogy, which does not have a unified perspective, yet she wishes to unmask power dynamic of gender within society. It identifies that females have different experiences than males and therefore different perspectives and challenges, mainly androcentrism. This pedagogy also acknowledges that it will take more than overcoming sexism in one classroom to change society.


Our Take:

We think that Briskin may have had some valid points at the time that she was writing this article, however we like to believe that there has been a shift since then. There is much less talk of sexism and females being held back only because they are females and when you do hear about it, and when it is, it is almost used as a way out. Some people say or think that they are being held back specifically because they are female instead of taking other factors into consideration. In some cases, females can almost be their own worst enemy when it comes down to equality. Often you hear a female say oh no I don’t do that I need a man to do that, whether or not it is about cars or fixing something or even killing a bug. Now not all females say these things but there are a large amount that do and those stereotypes are still alive in our society today. However, just because these stereotypes are still alive does not mean that our society treats women unequally or as unequally as Briskin would suggest. To say that women cannot achieve or cannot break through the ‘glass ceiling’ would ignore the accomplishments of many women that have already fought and won this war of inequality. This is not saying that the world is perfectly equal and that everyone who pushes for womens rights should stop because we know that there are many countries where women don’t have rights; however, as of now, in most of the developed world, many of Briskin’s ideas are slightly less meaningful today than they were 20 years ago.With this being said, it’s clear that gender inequality still exists within even developed societies. In the workplace women still tend to be associated with less prestigious positions and are often paid less for their labour.


Something to think about:

Because this was such a major issue in the past and still is even today, you hear about how they have to have a certain minimum % of female employees however you never hear about having a minimum % of male employees. An example is if you look at co-ed sports team rules, you have to have a minimum of 2 females on the court at all times but you dont have to have a minimum of 2 males, so my team played as an all girl team. We would like to ask you, should equality be an all or nothing type of issue or should there be limitations or restrictions? Should pay be equal across the board as well as opportunities in general? What questions has this article brought to mind regarding gender equality?


Briskin, L., & Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women (1994). Feminist pedagogy: Teaching and learning liberation. Ottawa: CRIAW/ICREF.

York University (n.d.). Linda Briskin. Retrieved from http://people.laps.yorku.ca/people.nsf/researcherprofile?readform&shortname=lbriskin


Statistics Regarding Income Earnings in Canadian Households



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  1. In response to the question, I think inequality should be an all or nothing issue. The way I see it, the fact that teams require a minimum of two females playing at a time, but no guidelines for the number of males is yet another way that men are seen as more powerful or better than women at sports. Don’t get me wrong, I do recognize that men are usually stronger and taller due to the amount of testosterone in their bodies, but it does not mean that they are more skilled than women. And sometimes some women are bigger, stronger and faster due to their own genetics.

    In terms of pay, I don’t think that it should be equal all across the board for all genders. I do think that if there is one man and one woman, and they both have the same work ethic, skills and intelligence when it comes to their job that they should be payed the same. But if one person is harder working or just overall better at their job I think they should be payed more because they contribute to the company in a greater way.

  2. I love this groups question. I felt this way when playing for a co-ed volleyball team also and I really did not like it. It was almost like we were just there to fill a spot and the guys were important. Like you my team played with more girls and only had 2 guys.

    For the wage I again agree with Katie. I work for head office of a company and I never feel like men and women are necessarily separated based on wage. Yes the owner is male but there are a lot of powerful females and I would say this is for reasons like Katie mentioned: the work ethic, skill, intelligence as well as leadership and commitment. I actually feel empowered at work that working hard is the way anyone can move up in the company regardless of your gender.

  3. I agree with Katie’s and Kirsten’s response. I feel like most of the class would as well. In terms of the minimum # of girls issue, I understand your qualms and truly have no issue with making a rule stipulating a minimum # of males on the team. However, the rule was made to solve the problem of all male teams creating an unfair balance of competition within divisions. If the ESSC and other relevant sport clubs were having difficulty maintaining fair competition due to teams with all girls, then I’m sure there would be a rule for that too. My point is, do these clubs need another rule that would have little affect on maintaining fair competition just for the sole purpose of establishing gender equality? The rule would already be in place if there were issues with all girl teams, just as there were with all male teams. Yes, I am a male, so I am inherently biased I suppose, but like I stated before, I have no issue with this rule being created. I am just trying to raise a point and ask the question: should we do something, not in an effort to improve the quality of play (as past history would suggest), but just to create the optics of gender equality strictly due to a couple lines written in a rulebook? And this issue can be attached to many other concerns within society, not just these sports clubs. I would provide a few examples running through my head, but I don’t want to branch off of the topic being discussed here. Maybe if the discussion turns a corner later, then I will list them off (if I can still remember them).

  4. As with everyone who has posted on this discussion, I agree with their responses. I too can relate with the minimum number of males rule. To me, I never viewed this rule as anything sexist, but then, I never really thought about it. I’ve created teams in a variety of co-rec leagues and I’ve always found the rules to specify the minimum number of girls. The rule is more about quality and consistency of play and not meant to be a stab at gender inequality.

    As for consistency of pay, pay should be consistent when employees share similar skills and work ethic. Gender should not play a role in determining pay. Although I understand that men are often paid more, and I question whether these statistics include men and women who work at the same business, with the same responsibilities, and still get paid differently based entirely on gender.

  5. Rewards, benefits and pay should not be differentiated by if a person is male or female. These benefits and rewards should be differentiated based upon the effort a person is willing to put in, their dedication to their practice, their educational background and their position that has been earned through time in an institution.

    For a job that is the same, for example a LPN nurse, differences in pay, rights, benefits and responsibilities should not be based upon gender. Gender discrimination should no longer be a part of society. Men may be better as a group at some things well women as a group are better at others. However there are individuals within each gender group that do not fit within the norm of the two groups. I know guys that can cook and bake better then me and I know girls that are able to perform construction jobs and are excellent mathematicians. How can this be explained when women are the nurturing, homemakers and the men are the strong, intellectual breadwinners?

    Gender discrimination should no longer be apart of our society. Men and women should be on equal playing fields where their attitude, efforts and previous work/education are the things that differentiate their salary not their gender.

  6. In regards to the issue of there being stipulations for a certain number of girls on the field at a time in sports, but no similar enforcement for number of males, I find this to be a rather insignificant reality in the world of gender inequalities. Obviously I am all for equal treatment of men and women, however I really think there are much bigger battles to be fought than simple sports specifications. I am with Ryan on this one, the only reason this rule exists is to encourage equal play in often male dominated co-ed sports. Currently I am on an ultimate frisbee co-ed team which employs this rule and if it was the other way around (ie. specifying there must be at least 2 males on the field at all times) it would essentially be a completely moot point as there are always way more males present than females. In other words, although gender inequality is definitely still prevalent in our society, I do not necessarily feel that this represents a good example of it.

    On the other hand, in regards to employment opportunities and wages in general, I see this as being a much more significant issue in the realm of gender rights. Last year I took an Anthropology course which focused on sex and gender and some of the stats we were shown on the realities of men and women in the workplace were absolutely appalling. Often times equally qualified job applicants who were similar in all aspects of socioeconomic background, education, skills, age, etc. got hired/paid differently seemingly solely based on gender. An interesting study I would like to see pursued on this topic would be to create a group of highly similar applicants (differing solely on gender) and have them do blind interviews (ie. interviewer would only be able to see the person’s resume and talk to them via some sort of device/computer so as not to be able to decipher their sex) to see if this would change the hiring process. I would be willing to guess that the results of an experiment like this would be quite surprising!

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