Feminist Geography

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I can hear Roger Whittaker singing: Something’s going wrong with the singer and the song / And the music isn’t gentle anymore . . .

In the recent NCEA examinations for the geography paper for year 13, the students were given several images and asked to explain each from a feminist perspective. One of the pictures was that of a hill, one was a view of Hagley Park and the Christchurch CBD, and so on. It is difficult for me to understand what a feminist perspective has to do with geography.

The story in today’s NZ Herald mentions that some parents objected and includes the opinions of some “experts” in the field.

Feminist geographer Dr Julie Cupples, of Canterbury University, said feminist geography had been around since the late 1970s.

It incorporated women’s experience in a male-dominated area.“It’s really good if you can start to understand how gender shapes people’s lives and our world in different ways,” Dr Cupples said.

The suburbs could be highly gendered in that many women were at home with children “and the interesting stuff that is happening downtown they are excluded from”.

Dr Wendy Lawson, head of the geography department at Canterbury University, said the exam question, while sophisticated, was “perfectly legitimate”.

She suspected parents who regarded the question as politically correct were “taking a certain definition of feminism, and feminist, that is a colloquial understanding of that term – rather than an academic or intellectual understanding of that term”.

I can only go back to my pet conclusion. Whenever the Bible is honoured in a country, that nation advances and becomes a good and safe place. The coming of Ziegenbalg and William Carey to India resulted in an end to many evil practices such as Sati and polygamy and a renaissance of language and thought. Now in this new country of mine, the Bible is leaving, and I see change in a certain direction. I am afraid for New Zealand.

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