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My 12 year old DD shouldn't have to be subject to sexism and unwanted male attention so frequently

(110 Posts)
crispandcheesesanwichplease Thu 20-Oct-16 21:13:22

This post has arisen from a discussion on an earlier thread about single sex v co-ed schools.

My 12 year old DD frequently gets called a slag or slut by boys at school. This is for little things like being in someone's way in the corridor. The boys at school regularly rate the girls on their 'fitness' in public and comment about their breasts. Some of the girls, including my DD, keep their sweatshirts on in school even when it's really hot to stop boys from commenting on their breasts.

I regularly see adult men eyeing her up when we're out and about (first time was when she was 9). She's a normal, young for her age, 12 year old. She doesn't wear any make up or clothing that could make her look older her look older. She's not particularly well developed physically for her age. She just look likes a kid.

She said she feels like a piece of meat sometimes and the boys at school only rate girls in terms of their physical appearance and 'sexiness'.

I consider myself to be a feminist and have raised her to think critically about gender stereotypes but despite this she thinks it's just something that she must endure, particularly at school.

I've contacted some other mums of girls who attend the same school to find out their experiences and am seriously thinking about approaching school when I have a fuller picture.

Is this awful culture of sexism and hypersexualised behaviour standard in secondary schools these days?

Any teachers/school staff out there with advice on how such a culture can be changed in schools?

user1476140278 Fri 21-Oct-16 02:01:46

Yes. Approach the school. I am of the opinion that sexist language is on a par with racist language and should be classed as hate speech. In fact some police forces in the UK ARE classing it as such.

Gather some other opinions and make an appointment to discuss it.

Cisoff Fri 21-Oct-16 02:10:31

I agree to speak to the school and go in with the message that such objectifying speech is up there with racism. I would not fucking put up with it. I"m not sure what the parents at your school are like, but I know I'd have the support of many of the parents at mine, so I'd take the strength in numbers approach.

KoalaDownUnder Fri 21-Oct-16 02:53:26

That is vile.

I find it hard to reconcile with my own experience of being a 12-year-old.

Small Catholic primary school (1980s), nothing like this ever happened. I would certainly remember if it did.

All-girls highschool from 12+, so obviously not an issue there.

None of these things (feeling like a piece of meat, bring called a slag shock, comments on my 'fitness', etc.) were a feature in my childhood aged 12. I don't remember any of this sort of thing until at least 15.

It is very sad. It's stealing girls' childhoods from them, really.

RelationshipAdvicePlease Fri 21-Oct-16 03:07:51

That's terrible. Certainly I remember at about 13/14 the "lists" coming out rating girls (and we did the same to the boys) - not great, but in my whole school time I was never called a slag or slut or any other misogynous word.

I would absolutely approach the school, this is terrible. As a mum of two sons I would be down on them like a ton of bricks if I heard this language.

As it is, I am always on at them when they make small gender assumptions ("that Lego is for girls") because it's my job to not accept these weak stereotypes.

As someone who came of age in the late 1990s I am horrified about how girls are treated these days.

Italiangreyhound Fri 21-Oct-16 03:48:50

Re "I've contacted some other mums of girls who attend the same school to find out their experiences and am seriously thinking about approaching school when I have a fuller picture."

Go for it, and let us know how you get in, please.

Totally agree with user1476140278 re "Approach the school. I am of the opinion that sexist language is on a par with racist language and should be classed as hate speech. In fact some police forces in the UK ARE classing it as such.

Gather some other opinions and make an appointment to discuss it."

Totally, sexist language is hate speech. It should be just as unacceptable to use terms that are misogynistic as it is to use terms that are racist or homophobic. If any school official argues with you about this you might ask:
Is misogynistic language any less damaging than racist or homophobic language? No, of course it is not. It is just as damaging.

Are women of any less value than men of different racial groups or gay men? Of course not. Women and girls are of equal value to men and boys, any males, gay or straight, black or white, - all women, any women, of equal value to anyone else.

The only reason males use this language is because they are not challenged enough on it, not sanctioned for using it, IMHO.

As far as how society goes, it is much harder how to impact society, but if we can make a difference to girls and boys in schools, we will change society in the future.

I am not sure what we can do about adult males eyeing up girls. I wonder what is happening within 'male society'! Comments might be made, are men speaking up among other men? This is why shithead Trumper and his vile comments are so toxic, men really should be looking to their elders and people in positions of power/famous people/role models etc and seeing good examples of how to live, not this shit.

I wish there was a way to stop the porn industry, which often (I am told) presents adult women as shaved 'pubic hair free' adolescent looking girls and which now is adding to the feeling that women are meat and a commodity, and which is so fucking toxic and so fucking accessible to children and adults nowadays.

Sorry, I am really sweary these days!

I am really not sure how we can campaign for this, for limiting access to pornography to be a priority. Maybe we can speak to our politicians, making it clear if they do not take the safety and comfort of our girls seriously we won't fucking vote for them! You know if porn was all about degrading males, we would not have this epidemic!

OK, rant over, night night and do tell us how you get on. And please keep your daughter aware of and involved in what you are doing. We do need to empower our girls (and boys, I have one of each) to know this sort of shit is unacceptable and ultimately unhelpful for all (both females and males).


User100 Fri 21-Oct-16 06:31:44

I think this is probably far too normal nowadays (and happening younger and younger) but definitely still speak to the school - the only way we stop this is one school at a time.

Thisjustinno Fri 21-Oct-16 06:47:34

I agree and think ALL pupils should be educated on sexism and the use of misogynistic language.

I went to an all girls school and slag, ho, slut etc were all used by girls to criticise other girls. It's still rife that women use such terms (just look at any threads on MN about OW).

Bruce02 Fri 21-Oct-16 06:49:25

Please do contact the school. Dd started year 7 last year. A few things (though not as much as in your op) occurred that really bothered me.

I spoke to a few of dds friends parents who agreed. We all approached the schools. We ensured the dad's attended too, because this isn't just a women's problem.

We outlined our daughters experiences. Some who had sons in the school also came to support us.

I don't think they viewed a lot of it as sexist. While they took a child being called a slag seriously. They had never related it to sexism. We did have to explain it.

The school did lots of work around sexism. They related it to racism and homophobia. They had workshops, assemblies and they really clamped down on it.

Dd said it still happens occasionally but it's usually challenged by other kids who witness it. And the staff treat it seriously. It's not going to stop. Some people will always use this sort of language, but it's good that it's not ignored.

Our school is an academy so I don't know if that changes how much they can do.

hesterton Fri 21-Oct-16 06:51:45

Bruce has it. I'm so glad your school responded in that way Bruce.

hesterton Fri 21-Oct-16 06:52:16

I hope op, you can do the same and that your school responds like that too.

Bruce02 Fri 21-Oct-16 06:54:43

Oh and yes I experienced this myself as a teen. I remember being shouted at from a building site at 14 with my mum. Mum didn't take it laying down. She pointed out I was 14 took all the vans names and went to the head of the companies and tracked down the man.

I hope he thought twice about it.

I would also like to point out that dds friendship circle includes a large amount of boys that are absolutely lovely. It's certainly not all or most boys in dds school.

I also agree that girls need educating in this as much as boys. Girls are often just as bad at using this language. I also think many girls don't recognise it as sexist educating girls will enable them to recognise when it happens and also stop them doing it also.

ForalltheSaints Fri 21-Oct-16 06:59:01

I agree you should contact the school

Sophia1984 Fri 21-Oct-16 07:00:40

When I was in Y6 I remember a group of boys had nicknames for the girls they fancied based on their breast size. By the time I was 15 I was being sexually bullied (I hesitate to say abused or assaulted but it was pretty horrific). I wish school had addressed it earlier. I think I just accepted it as normal. Wishing you luck x

Nataleejah Fri 21-Oct-16 07:13:59

Certainly I remember at about 13/14 the "lists" coming out rating girls
I remember this at my school. The girls who felt lost offended were those who were not on the list hmm
We girls had also been pretty "dirty", discussing (trying to imagine) which boy had a biggest cock or who had the smallest grin

ErrolTheDragon Fri 21-Oct-16 07:24:26

I'm sorry your DD - and so many others - is going through this. I don't know whether its normal because my DD went to a girls' school.

She shouldn't have to put up with this sort of behaviour at all. Apart from being sexist, its bullying. Being called a vile name for 'being in someones way' FFS - do those boys think they're superior beings with more entitlement to the space? (I fear the answer is yes).

Absolutely you need to raise this with the school and keep at it for as long as it takes - you've got examples that show that change can occur, theres simply no excuse for this in what should be a safe learning environment for all children.

KERALA1 Fri 21-Oct-16 07:32:31

I went to a mixed school. My dds are going single sex. Know that may bring other issues but being rated out of 10 daily and having breasts groped hopefully less likely hmm.

Think wide availability of porn has made it worse. So depressing. Keep fighting op.

LumpySpacedPrincess Fri 21-Oct-16 07:33:44

It seems to be getting worse, not better. Dd has experienced some harassment at her primary school ffs and the language used towards girls is awful. sad

MouseholeCat Fri 21-Oct-16 07:35:25

Really feel for you and your daughter OP. No further advice but just wanted to comment and say how great it is that you want to take action on this.

I was at an all girls school until 16. I remember that within weeks of moving to Sixth Form our male "friends" had ranked us all by attractiveness, and people were frequently being called "slag", "slut" and "whore" at every opportunity.

I also remember how terrifying it was aged 12 to be honked and catcalled for the first time.

This was 2002-2009, so not long ago, but the prevailing attitude was that the boys just "fancied us" and were being silly. Apparently the men honking and catcalling were just "giving us compliments" and we'd "miss it when it stopped" hmm

Slowtrain2dawn Fri 21-Oct-16 07:36:21
No idea how to link!

Slowtrain2dawn Fri 21-Oct-16 07:36:36

Oh it worked!

FurryLittleTwerp Fri 21-Oct-16 07:44:42

As for "lists" - pretty normal teen behaviour to eye up, discuss & rank members of the other sex IMO.

What is not acceptable is the name-calling, overt ogling & making girls feel uncomfortable & intimidated.

DS's school was pretty hot on this sort of thing - on a par with racism & other forms of "social" bullying.

And yes, some Police forces are classing this as a Hate Crime - I think Nottingham's was the first. (I'm originally from Nottingham <proud>)

LIttleTripToHeaven Fri 21-Oct-16 08:16:55

Yes, speak with the school and carry on educating her.

My son is now in year 13 and regularly challenges sexist attitudes in school. Until he introduced them to the tea/consent video last year, most of his peers (boys and girls) believed that a woman held the majority of responsibility if she is raped (being drunk/provocatively dressed/out on her own after dark).

It's not all boys.

But I do hear a lot of adults in school perpetuating sexist attitudes. We need to start with the adults if we want the children to think/speak differently.

ThenLaterWhenItGotDark Fri 21-Oct-16 08:24:24

I teach secondary and dd is 13. Tbh, the only list she has mentioned has been from the girls rating each other on breast size.

A boy in dd's class had to have his elder brother speak to the girls in dd's class on the phone because of the constant harassment he received via social media and whatsapp from the minute they started the school.

It's not all one way. That doesn't make what happens to the OP's daughter any better, but it really is not only the boys who do it. I have 7 classes of secondary and I'd say, at least within the school, the most sexist behaviour definitely comes from the girls.

Teenage girls (and I speak as the owner of one and the teacher of about 300) can be appalling.

LIttleTripToHeaven Fri 21-Oct-16 08:27:05

That's why I think it's the adults' responsibility to model acceptable attitudes.

I teach primary and this week I heard a TA telling off a group of "big, strong boys" because they were letting a couple of girls carry boxes rather than doing it themselves. Such a subtle message, but one that is reinforced all the time.

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