Anyone who has been in high school knows that it is common for boys to talk about women’s bodies and pass objectifying comments. While it is only a small group of people who passes such comments, almost nobody intervenes. Most just act as bystanders and some might even laugh at those comments. This kind of behaviour is instilled into young minds by society.
The school also plays a significant role in encouraging such ideas and objectifying its female students. After all, nobody is a pervert by birth, they’re turned into one. They project what they see and learn from school and at home. It is schools that establish men as danger and decide that all men are perverts, pushing the idea of “boys will be boys”. And so, they change the school uniform from skirts to kurtas for girls and make boys and girls sit separately. Any girl seen being too friendly with boys is slut-shamed by her own teachers.
This is something I’ve seen and dealt with quite regularly, and unfortunately, most women have dealt with it, too. When a woman is objectified by a male classmate, his friends laugh at his comments and the ones who don’t laugh keep quiet and don’t intervene because it is apparently “none of their business”.
We’ve seen so many severe incidents in the past year itself, where women’s bodies were objectified and sexualised in school. The most notorious one of them being the ‘Bois locker room‘, an exasperating incident where a bunch of high school boys from schools across Delhi had made an online group called the ‘Bois locker room’. They’d have conversations around sexualising their female classmates and talking about what they’d do to them.
Another horrific incident happened just a few months ago in the city I live in, Chennai. In PSBB School, a mathematics teacher behaved inappropriately with his female students and harassed them. This has been happening for years in that school, but no action was taken against the teacher until a few students collectively came forward and the issue came in the news.
Schools should not be a place for this sort of fear. They are supposed to educate us against such behaviour. This is why all schools have to do better. It horrifies me how society sexualises minors’ bodies. There is nothing inherently sexual about a minor. We need to all stop sexualising women for simply existing. If you choose to project this kind of behaviour onto someone just for existing, it’s not their problem, it’s yours. The effects of the sexualisation of female bodies at school are very harmful and contribute to much larger issues by promoting sexism, misogyny and toxic masculinity.
If you are a survivor, parent or guardian who wants to seek help for child sexual abuse, or know someone who might, you can dial 1098 for CHILDLINE (a 24-hour national helpline) or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call NGO Arpan on their helpline 091-98190-86444, for counselling support.