Woman Crush(ing the Patriarchy) Wednesday: Ileana Jiménez

Woman Crush(ing the Patriarchy) Wednesday: Ileana Jiménez
Jim Gipe

While many mujeristas start learning about intersectional feminism in college, the students of this week’s WCW’s classes get woke in their high school days.

MORE: Woman Crush(ing the Patriarchy) Wednesday: Melissa Madera

Ileana Jiménez, also known as Feminist Teacher, has been teaching youngsters about social justice for nearly two decades, with her work – and those of her teenage estudiantes – even going viral.

Ahead, learn how this New York Boricua is using her class syllabus to create a future where her students won’t have a patriarchy to crush.

How long have you been teaching feminism in secondary schools, and why did you start doing this work?

I've been teaching literature at the high school level for 19 years, and I have always brought a feminist lens to my work from the very beginning.

When I started teaching in 1997, I wanted my classroom to be a place where they could have game-changing moments. I wanted them to read books that allowed them to see themselves and to act in the world through their reading and writing. I wanted young people to experience the powerful moments of epiphany I did when engaging with feminist texts.

Can you talk about your own "game-changing moments?"

I went to Smith, a powerful women's college in Massachusetts, and it changed my life forever. It was there that I took classes on Latina women writers that provided me with the stories and language to understand myself. I will never forget reading Loving in the War Years by Cherríe Moraga. I was a first-generation student and 18 years old. Moraga taught me that it was beautiful and even important to be brown and queer and feminist. She taught me that it was radical and revolutionary to understand our Latinidad not only as a cultural and ethnic identity but also as a gendered and sexual identity. She confirmed so much of what I felt at 18, and still now at 40.

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