High school, as far as I have seen at least, is one of the largest social hubs that educates kids about sexism. If you think that I mean teaching as in teachers with lesson pans and slideshows telling boys to keep it in their pants and respect women the way that they are perfectly capable of doing, then I have not come across clear enough.
There are no lesson plans for what I have witnessed. I am in year 9, all classes that could have had something to do with the teaching of kind and respectful behavior to kids have passed by with no more than a vague mention of too short skirts and stranger danger.
The way that sexism is taught in high school is taught like it has been since schools were first created and girls were allowed to attend. The little things, the dresses, the change rooms, the hushed whispers, the rumors and the gossip teach it. The way that sexism is taught is by not teaching it at all, by not talking about it because it’s inappropriate. It is inappropriate to do the things that we’re meant to be talking about, but nobody ever stands up and says to everyone who is still figuring out to function not to do it.
I have never, in my entire educational life, had an in-class discussion about catcalls and about how it sucks and it makes young girls feel scared and hunted. And I have never had a conversation about wage gaps, or sexual harassment in the work place, or date rape drugs.
Heck, they don’t even tell us that these things even happen in real life.
Because it’s inappropriate.
We don’t learn about police brutality or Internet scams, we don’t talk about racism in the present, we don’t learn about sexism in the military or the shaming of women in the tech industry. We learn algebra, and then we learn algebra harder, and algebra again and again. We learn to wear shorts under your skirt or you’re a slut, we learn that breasts and thighs are either the most erotic or the most dangerous weapons at your disposal. We learn that our jobs, as young women, are to avoid, not to feel safe. We are taught how to avoid the situations we are briefly told about, but nobody ever tells students how to treat other humans with respect.
I overheard, as you do, a senior in my school have a startling epiphany. He was sitting a few feet away from me in the library and I heard him say with wide eyes and a surprised look “you know, girls are just lying to us when they wear makeup!”
I know you must all be shocked but I have a few thoughts on this.
1) First of all, it was the all to innocent assumption that it was he who was being lied to. Sometimes, in this great big world of judgment and rage it’s nice to just entertain your own lie, for your own satisfaction, uncaring of everyone else’s concern.
2) Also, it’s hardly her fault if you can’t grasp the fact that someone’s eyelid isn’t green.
3) Self-fucking-expression darling.
4) Makeup is war paint and, my dear, that is our supply to your demand.
The ways that sexism is taught is not for the student; it’s just making someone else feel better, it’s someone telling themselves that it’s okay because we told this one class this one sentence an now I don’t have to feel bad about covering it up.
Women and girls have not been made for male consumption, we are not hear to entertain or please and men who think that maybe, just maybe, that statement isn’t insane are not gay or just trying to get laid, they are just thinking about their mothers!
I need feminism… because a man in a room filled with women is ecstatic, but a woman in a room filled with men is fucking terrified.
I need feminism… because, I like playing video games and nobody should to judge me.
I need feminism… because getting catcalled everyday on your way home from school is not fucking flattery.
I need feminism… because people are still asking what the victim was wearing.
I need feminism… because little girls are still being told that a boy hitting or teasing her means “he likes you.”