Education is an important part of everyone’s life. School is the only educational institution where an average person spends most of their time. It is a place where children learn their first subjects, how to write, do basic mathematics and it is also the same place where they grow up and get prepared for college. Our school leaves a lasting impact on our overall mentality and behavior. Gender roles are often taught at school. Girls’ bodies are subjected to moral policing, shamed and treated as a distraction for boys. Often dress codes are imposed on girls and their privacy is violated in the name of checking the dress code.
Shamed for Femininity
Dress codes include not having long nails, not wearing nail paint, wearing skirts till a certain length, wearing hair in a certain way and a lot more. Girls start to face moral policing for talking to male classmates often making them believe that they are a distraction to boys.
Things that are associated with their gender are often looked down upon in school level. They are shamed for wearing make-up, hanging out with other girls or even for the mere length of their skirt. Slut-Shaming is often used in both schools and universities against female students. At the same time, students who choose to not opt for it are labeled as “tomboys” and treated with similar policing.
Girls’ bodies are subjected to moral policing, shamed and treated as a distraction for boys. Often dress codes are imposed on girls and their privacy is violated in the name of checking the dress code.
Girls are repeatedly made to believe that their education is not as important as their boy classmates by making them leave classes to change their attire or to follow the codes. It is also a common occurrence that when a young couple is policed by the moral police, women, and girls bear the most brunt of it. They face character assassination and are blamed for corrupting the minds of male students. It is an enforcement of rape culture which haunts them throughout their lives.
Shaming of Male Students
It is notable that when many queer men and femmes talk about bullying, school comes into the discussion. Many femme people are subjugated to constant policing at the school level. Gay men who were interested in feminine things during school are often called names and shamed by the teachers.
Boys at a young age are indirectly taught the toxic notions of masculinity by telling them that others are responsible for their behavior instead of them. When we blame girls for “provoking” boys, we teach boys that they are not accountable for their actions. It creates a justification for their behavior.
Even aggressiveness of boys is treated as normal but if a boy in school is hanging out girls not for seeking a relationship but for friendship, he is often told that he isn’t masculine enough. For instance, Raksha Bandhan celebration in schools ensures that boys and girls learn gender roles more widely as the “brothers” will protect their sisters from everyone.
Cultivating Body Image Issues In Children
This is also the time when people usually start dating. School Girls also face stalking and harassment at this time the most. The overall culture of porn celebrates school girls and puberty hence, their bodies are sexualized and over the years traits, like being docile, having hairless bodies like children, etc, are embedded into their heads as normal. It has negative impacts on their overall body image.
When children are constantly told in school that they should look a certain way to be presentable, they start feeling ashamed of their bodies. For instance, fat girls face sexualization due to their size. Feminine boys are told that there is something wrong with them in the way they present themselves. Thin girls are often policed for being “attractive” and so on.
At this time, relationships are demonized and treated as a temporary distraction. Kids are told that their interests will not last. Girls are told that they will be “used” by their boyfriends and they will be left alone. Homosexual relationships are treated as taboo which shouldn’t exist. Children at the school level are constantly made to believe that they need to be protected from the “epidemic” of falling in love and having relationships.
When we blame girls for “provoking” boys, we teach boys that they are not accountable for their actions. It creates a justification for their behavior.
They are also fed misconceptions about sex during teenage and it shows a lack of proper sex education in India. They remain confused about their emotions when they grow up into adults. Girls and Queer individuals feel ashamed of their sexuality while boys celebrate their sexuality. This also normalizes violation of consent as most of sex education is given by porn instead of textbooks. The very idea of family honor is fed to girls through different means and it stays with them outside their school life.
What Teachers Can Do Instead?
Often teachers are doing most of the policing due to their pre-existing notions. Teachers need to educate themselves and help in breaking this cycle of moral policing. This can be expected from them as they are the ones who can fix things. However, they shouldn’t be blamed for the behavior of their students’ as popular culture is a major reason behind all the issues mentioned above apart from the schools.
Teachers need to stop imposing gender roles of their children, understand that every child is an individual who will grow in their own ways. Policing girls’ bodies is not going to help anyone neither will imposing masculine ideals on men. It further creates inequality in society and this needs to be stopped by promoting equal ideals in society. Teachers also need to understand the Queer Students too, are their students who have feelings that need to be acknowledged and respected. It might take a decade or two to add such teachings in the teaching curriculum but it will help in the betterment of the students’ community.
Featured Image Source: DU Beat