First published on Medium, May 3rd, 2018

Can I just interrupt your night to say that my student, whom I was supervising this evening for a test he missed two days ago, stopped writing to inform me that the poem he is planning to write for our class’s poetry slam which I’m organising is on male feminism. Yes. You read that correctly. I looked up from the papers I was grading and asked:

Me: Male feminism? What do you mean by ‘male feminism’?

Him: Yes. Or maybe I should call it male-ism.

Me: Male-ism, like an opposite of feminism? But boys are hardly treated badly or disrespected because of their gender the way the girls are.

Him: You wouldn’t know Ms Jennifer, because you’re not a boy.

You guys. As a warm up for our poetry slam, I did this deep-thinking lesson with the kids where I asked reflective questions about gender roles and change and teenage life and issues about family and identity. I wrote these questions on cardboard papers and pasted them all over the walls of our classroom. Students moved in groups to answer these questions and I encouraged them to use acronyms for responses they considered really personal. Today, we watched a couple of spoken word performances criticising sexual abuse, bullying and encouraging acceptance.

These kids, who had hated the tediousness involved in poetry analysis, are apparently charged up. A girl said she would be writing on the effects of Boko Haram, especially on girls. Another says she is writing something so deep, she won’t share with anyone until she’s done. Now I’m very scared about this can that I have opened. Male feminism? Male-ism?

I can’t wait to read these poems. My poetry class is on fire! 😀

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