Educational Institutions and Their Everyday Sexism Project : How Schools Contribute To Rape Culture

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If you have been living under a rock and do not know what the whole “Boys Locker Room” fuss is about, a bunch of boys from Delhi was found to have a group where they shared pictures of women and passed objectionable comments on it. Some of the pictures were also of underage girls and their comments involved body shaming and objectifying them. Another screenshot from a conversation that took place on Snapchat between two people, their conversation read, “We can rape her easily. I’ll come whenever you say. We will together gangrape her.” These screenshots created havoc on social media and people have been increasingly discussing toxic masculinity and issues of entitlement in young cishet men. 

This case has also led a movement on social media wherein people are discussing how educational institutions have been a part of rape culture. A lot of womxn have come up and discussed how they were slut-shamed and body-shamed in their schools, which has led to nothing but a promotion of rape culture. One such tweet read, “schools normalize this behavior, tying your hair in a ponytail is slutty, wearing a skirt without stockings is slutty, have short socks is slutty, putting on lip balm is slutty, wearing accessories is slutty, every kind of self-expression as a woman is slutty.” 

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All these years, institutional administration has been picking out girls and telling them how loose their clothes should be, how tightly braided their hair should be, how to sit in a way their bra strap does not show, and million other things. While there are uniforms codes for the boys too, they are not given a character certificate when they defy those codes. Not only this, upon defying uniform codes or doing something “provocative”, school girls are also told that whatever they are doing is to attract male attention. When you limit the freedom of a womxn from a young age and tell her how to behave around men, you tell her that it is your actions that will make men harass you. Never have I ever seen a counseling session for boys in schools where they are taught how to respect womxn. It is through actions like those of school administration, that womxn from a very young age regulate their behavior. They think twice before dressing in a certain way, before saying things in front of a man in a certain way, before posting a certain picture because they are taught that when a woman is harassed, it is because of her actions too. “It takes two hands to clap”, womxn have been conditioned from a young age to think so. What is even more saddening is that this comes not only from educated people but from people who have been employed to educate people. 

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I remember being in class 6th when girls in my school used to have workshops on menstruation. At the end of each workshop, we were specifically told that we should not let boys know about what happened in this workshop. Like menstruation is a secret term and only the girls are supposed to know about this. We were also told that under our uniforms, we should also wear tank tops or slips to cover our bras. While sitting, the shape of the bra becomes apparent, our uniforms get too revealing. To cover them, we were asked to wear slips so that the boys never come to know about it. 

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A young mind cannot argue with such claims, it does what it is asked to. It is only after years that we realize how from the beginning, our schools have been an avid promoter of rape culture. Wearing kajal was considered as an act to attract boys, sitting too close to them was an open invitation for them to be intimate with us. School administration feels like it has an open pass to humiliate girls for not acting according to their rules, to slut-shame and demean them is a right. 

“On Fridays, we had a tracksuit and there was something wrong with my pants so I wore the regular skirt that day and my teachers called me out for doing so because I wanted to attract guys. In another incident, my best friend was the basketball team when she was 13 and unlike the boy’s teams, the girl’s team didn’t have a proper jersey, so they used to wear shorts and the water cooler was outside the boy’s’ washroom and she was drinking water and a teacher scolded her saying that shorts pehnke boys washroom ke bahar khadi hain”, shared an ex-student from a top South Delhi school.

When you spend 6 hours in a day, 5 days in a week and 14 years at a place where the so-called educators and role models pick out girls and tell them how they behave is inappropriate and tell them that it makes them characterless or for the purpose of getting male attention, you contribute to rape culture. When you do not spend a minute of your education towards modeling boys’ behavior, towards telling them that no matter what a girl does, you are not supposed to go against her will, you contribute to rape culture. 

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