Two senior students at elite private boys’ school Brighton Grammar have been expelled after operating a vile ‘Slut of the Year’ Instagram account that sexualised unsuspecting young girls.
The account was plastered with images of girls degraded to “young sluts”. Many were simply dressed in school uniforms.
One was wearing only bikini bottoms and a singlet, with an accompanying caption detailing sexual acts she would perform, according to Fairfax.
Followers of the account were invited to vote for the ‘Slut of the Year’.
Girls who had barely hit puberty. Girls as young a 11, in Year 6. Pre-teens.
The punishment the ringleaders received was exactly what they deserved. Because as far as I’m concerned, this is violent behaviour that’s beyond ‘boys being boys’.
And with police now investigating, charges may well be laid.
Many were expecting the Year 11 boys would cop nothing but a suspension before being ushered back through the school gates when media interest dies down, as is so often the case.
But in a breath of fresh air, the school has shown it has grasped the gravity of the situation at a time when rape culture at Australia's prestigious schools and universities is being exposed at an alarming rate.
What this does is add to the growing chorus of voices demanding a zero-tolerance approach to sexual violence and objectification. And that's powerful.
But of course, it never takes long for the distorted 'boys will be boys' remarks to ooze.
Melbourne's 3AW shock jock Neil Mitchell didn’t hesitate to spout his view this morning that booting the boys from school was “going too far”.
“Those boys were very, very foolish but what are they? 16 or 17-year-old boys? That’s what 17 and 16-year-old boys are, stupid,” he said.
Immediately, I was jerked back to Q&A last week when Steve Price downplayed Eddie McGuire and co for "joking" about drowning journalist Caroline Wilson as just " a bunch of blokes laughing about things they shouldn’t."
Another week, another man making excuses for violence.
Mitchell feared the punishment didn’t fit the crime of the Brighton Grammar boys because it would “change their lives for the worse” -- a sentiment I have seen echoed online.
What about the school girls whose images were being hideously sexualised over social media?
Have their young lives not been changed forever, for the worse?
Have they not been traumatised because of the actions of these "stupid" boys?
Women share experiences of sexual violence on Twitter. Post continues after video...
As the mother of one victim reminded Fairfax Media: "I am still left with a little girl who is confused, who has had her innocence taken away from her and is embarrassed."
There are no winners here.
But what we do have is a step in the right direction.
This is not about putting the school's reputation ahead of the perpetrators.
This is about putting the victims ahead of perpetrators.
This is about saying, we, as a society, do not accept violence against women.
Just yesterday, another five young men were expelled from a prestigious college at Australian National University for circulating seedy photos taken down the tops of unsuspecting female students with sexist slurs.
Expelling young perpetrators is a start. A strong start.
From this case, it's clear the behaviour starts young. The school is now reviewing and implementing education programs, as they should. Nationwide, a lot more work remains to be done on education.
The parents of these boys should no doubt be horrified and my hope is they are enrolled in comprehensive programs about respect, objectification and misogyny.
And if they still don't manage to learn from the whole experience, then not only are they "stupid" boys. They are also very dangerous boys.