Journal of Nursing Education

EDITORIAL 

A Feminist Pedagogy in Nursing Education

Christine A Tanner, RN, PhD, FAAN

Abstract

As this issue of JNE goes to press, we are about to witness the inauguration of a president who is married to a feminist, is probably raising one, and all but claims to be a feminist himself While the so-called Year of the Woman left many of us bewildered that so few women were actually elected, and that their races were so close, there is also clearly a sense of excitement at the possibilities of major reform, with politics of inclusion, rather than exclusion, at its core.

Hezekiah's article in this issue is a call for a feminist pedagogy in nursing education. As Hezekiah correctly points out, there is no monolithic feminist theory; but shared by the many feminist perspectives is a commitment to explicate causes and consequences of women's oppression and to reform, rather than reproduce, prevailing power relations. She describes the use of feminist process in a nursing classroom in Pakistan - a highly paternalistic society, where both women and nurses are oppressed groups. Through her example, she illustrates what a feminist pedagogy might do for nursing and for health care.

Although the second wave of feminism surfaced in this country in the 1960s, nursing and nursing education have been slow to explicitly embrace its tenets. Yet, there are signs that feminist thought is creeping into our scholarship and our practice. The methodological and epistemological debates of the '70s and '80s granted legitimacy to feminist scholarship in nursing. The call for educational reform led by the National League for Nursing sought to open up possibilities beyond the institutionalized behavioral model - and feminist pedagogy is clearly among the possibilities. Ethical discourse, which has become so pervasive in our practice, is becoming increasingly informed by feminist thought. Not so many years ago, I was hesitant to proclaim myself a feminist; I dreaded facing the outrage of both men and women educators who saw feminism only as radical, separatist, and exclusive of men. I think there is now a more widespread understanding that biologic female sex is neither necessary nor sufficient to be a feminist, and that feminist pedagogy may be practiced by both men and women.

It is prime time for a feminist pedagogy. As you read Hezekiah's article, think about your own practice as a teacher, ways in which you reproduce the dominant paternalism in your own classroom (we all do, since we cannot escape the effects of our culture), and ways in which you might shape your teaching to change traditional power relationships.…

As this issue of JNE goes to press, we are about to witness the inauguration of a president who is married to a feminist, is probably raising one, and all but claims to be a feminist himself While the so-called Year of the Woman left many of us bewildered that so few women were actually elected, and that their races were so close, there is also clearly a sense of excitement at the possibilities of major reform, with politics of inclusion, rather than exclusion, at its core.

Hezekiah's article in this issue is a call for a feminist pedagogy in nursing education. As Hezekiah correctly points out, there is no monolithic feminist theory; but shared by the many feminist perspectives is a commitment to explicate causes and consequences of women's oppression and to reform, rather than reproduce, prevailing power relations. She describes the use of feminist process in a nursing classroom in Pakistan - a highly paternalistic society, where both women and nurses are oppressed groups. Through her example, she illustrates what a feminist pedagogy might do for nursing and for health care.

Although the second wave of feminism surfaced in this country in the 1960s, nursing and nursing education have been slow to explicitly embrace its tenets. Yet, there are signs that feminist thought is creeping into our scholarship and our practice. The methodological and epistemological debates of the '70s and '80s granted legitimacy to feminist scholarship in nursing. The call for educational reform led by the National League for Nursing sought to open up possibilities beyond the institutionalized behavioral model - and feminist pedagogy is clearly among the possibilities. Ethical discourse, which has become so pervasive in our practice, is becoming increasingly informed by feminist thought. Not so many years ago, I was hesitant to proclaim myself a feminist; I dreaded facing the outrage of both men and women educators who saw feminism only as radical, separatist, and exclusive of men. I think there is now a more widespread understanding that biologic female sex is neither necessary nor sufficient to be a feminist, and that feminist pedagogy may be practiced by both men and women.

It is prime time for a feminist pedagogy. As you read Hezekiah's article, think about your own practice as a teacher, ways in which you reproduce the dominant paternalism in your own classroom (we all do, since we cannot escape the effects of our culture), and ways in which you might shape your teaching to change traditional power relationships.

10.3928/0148-4834-19930201-03

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