A teacher recounted the heartbreaking experience of a boy harassing her, saying, “He had hundreds of pictures of me… he was filming me and everything… I told people about it and they didn’t believe me.
For victims of sexual harassment, disbelief is the first great silencer. But denial and victim blame are also factors.
One administrator suggested that sex just didn’t matter and that she wasn’t the only one feeling that way. For her, it was the case that “naive teachers have a harder time if they are not firm enough”.
This mentality among some school leaders may explain why one teacher said she was “worried that people might think of us as having done something wrong.”
Another teacher said to me “even if I go further… what’s the point? Nothing is really going to be done about it ”.
But that same teacher excused the behavior as being that of “just boys“, who were “dumb” and “trying” it.
Another school principal, who herself complained of sexism, participated in this type of blaming of the victims. She said: “I have issues with some of my staff, they are adorable, adorable girls… they dress very feminine and the boys are just ga-ga… it takes its toll.”
To excuse such behavior is a form of internalization. It is then that the learned behavior of women can be inherently sexist towards themselves and towards other women. It is crucial to understand how insidious such logic can be.
Mamamia’s daily news podcast The Quicky shows how former Sydney private schoolgirl Chanel Contos helped thousands share their horrific experiences of sexual assault. The message continues below.
It also comes from peers.
Some teachers told me about the daily sexism of their male colleagues: “I experience sexism and discrimination every time I speak up… from day one I knew I was in a situation. place where women did not have equality ”.
Parents also played a role. A school principal told me that fathers “don’t like a woman telling them what to do […] a male staff member would not get this treatment when as a woman it does and it is disgusting […] how do you educate the body of the parents? “
Elite private schools, with high fees and high expectations, may struggle to cater to their clientele. Studies have suggested that when a scandal arises at such a school and puts its reputation at risk, it can seriously compromise its market share and viability.