This post deals with sexual assault and might be triggering for some readers.
Recent allegations of sexual misconduct at parties involving private-school students have exposed the toxic culture in many schools.
The ex-schoolgirl who launched the online petition that led to the revelations, Chanel Contos, told the ABC schools needed to address: "locker room talk… and throw-away comments because I really think they lay the foundation of the rape culture."
Contos also pointed to all-boys schools where she said objectifying women was normalised.
The interview came after a prefect at an all-boys school wrote an opinion piece talking about the need to shift the way boys see women. He wrote, "There have been times when I’ve heard about disgusting behaviour and not done anything about it, times when I’ve tolerated boys referring to women in derogatory ways… times when I’ve stood by."
I interviewed 32 teachers in three elite private boys’ schools, in two capital cities. I conducted this yet-to-be-published study between 2015 and 2017 just before the #MeToo movement really took off.
At the time, I wanted to understand the teachers’ moral purpose and their ability to seek and make change in the privileged schools they taught. I was unprepared for the accounts of sexual harassment and sexism female teachers relayed.
How boys behaved.
One young teacher described a troubling account that had her almost leaving the profession: "I had year 9, year 10 boys, being very sexually explicit to me… making nasty rumours up, being quite, very sexual, very, very sexual. Telling me I’m wearing hooker shoes and I look like a hooker to claiming that they saw me on the weekend doing particular things with particular people."
I also heard stories of up-skirting (taking a sexually intrusive photograph up someone’s skirt without their permission), boys participating in sexually explicit discussions about their teachers on social media, and propositioning them. I observed inappropriate personal questions and teasing with sexual innuendo in classroom interactions.
The first step in smashing patriarchy: take the hammer to elite boys schools. This is where the rot sets in. https://t.co/UNQKFL92kP— Mel Thomas 🥾🥾 (@photogramel) March 2, 2021