When Will Schools Stop Slut-Shaming Teenage Girls?

Slut-shaming young school girls is the result of inculcating and promoting victim blaming culture! Hence, Sex Education is needed urgently!

Slut-shaming or shaming a woman for being sexually active is no longer an issue that we see only in the high school dramas of foreign shows. In fact, it has always been a part of the Indian school system as well.

I had seen my classmates spreading stories about some particular classmate who had shared a story about how a boy had confessed his feelings for her. My mother had listened to such stories about her classmates at her school, and many schools have made headlines in the last few years when sexually explicit conversations and content were seized from the students of their institution.

While sexual curiosity is something that shouldn’t be shunned but educated about, I was more concerned about the background story of slut-shaming. When I was in my teenage, few girls used to share the amorous details of their newly found love. Teachers from schools were however not keen to help these girls out and were always a party to the slut shamming and spreading of rumours.

Looking back, I feel that although these girls were perceived as bold and naughty, they were really shy and were not trying to boast about their romantic encounters but were rather a seeking help.

More than often, the first sexual encounter teen girls have is with someone they know

The first-hand account that I heard from each of these girls was the same.

A family friend, a distant relative, or a cousin who was in his early 20s was flirting with them, was very considerate and understanding of their rebellious thoughts against their parents and very often he used to make sexual advances under the pretext of consoling her.

Most girls confessed to feeling confused and torn between emotions after being kissed or hugged inappropriately more than once. However, no heed was paid to their confusion, rather every person who used to listen to their story would focus on the extent of involvement they had with a boy.

These young men use the difference in age to manipulate impressionable minds!

Since these boys were in their early 20s, even the girls who were thirteen years old didn’t think about their age gap. Instead, their age gave these boys leverage to make a promise of marriage soon after getting a job that they used to pretend they will be getting in the next few months. Their age helped them to convince these young girls of their maturity, emotional stability, and job security.

Never miss real stories from India's women.

Register Now

At the age of 30, we all can understand the truth of these claims, but it is not the same for a 15-year-old girl from an Indian household who has grown to believe that a husband is her saviour from the shackles and curfew of her parents.

Back then, my first thought at so many similar accounts of first love was feeling left out and honestly speaking as a teenager, was to judge the beauty of our classmates on the basis of their suitors. Thus, these accounts were often perceived as the vain attempts of beautiful girls to undermine the rest of us.

However, now as a 30-year-old mother to a toddler, I can see things in a different light, and it is sending horrors of shiver down my spine to think how we have not only ignored our classmate’s cry for help but have also been participants in slut-shaming and victim blaming.

I, now understand, that the reason these girls were telling each one of us these stories was not to brag but to find a validation for the normalcy of a traumatic experience they have had undergone. Most of us, including our teachers, failed to see that and instead have told the story shared by these girls after adding our own prejudiced versions.

When these girls were made aware of the rumours that were being spread about their account of the forced sexual contact by their well-meaning friends, they used to receive the shock of their lives, and we have seen them either becoming diffident or defiant.

Sex education is a necessity in India!

This is another reason why Sex Education should be a part of the school curriculum: to not only educate young girls to identify sexual abuse, but also to train them into identifying such cries for help instead of shaming them. The reason for such slut shaming at the school level, that I can understand, is the way such accounts were received at the home of the girls who described such incidents happening to their friends.

Most parents would have advised their daughters to stay away from “such girls” calling them either slut, characterless, dirty, or the like. I can understand that every parent was concerned about their own daughter’s safety and the possibility of their daughter coming under bad influence. However, this approach is not only problematic but also persistent in the present generation as well.

Thus, there is a need to educate both parents and children in combined classes of Sex Education in schools and community centres of housing societies so that parents can identify and relate to the responsibility of abuse happening to someone else’s daughter as well.  Young teenage girls are the most vulnerable targets of sexual predators because they can easily be fooled into believing that sexual contact has been established with the coy consent of the unversed teenager.

Even then, the impact of such an unwanted encounter is traumatic enough to have life-altering consequences. As parents, we need to understand that teenage girls are just children and not old enough to understand the life-altering implications of sexual encounters, leave alone indulge in such relationships willingly to satisfy their lust.

Why do teachers slut-shame young girls?

Even, teachers have a tendency to blame young girls at schools instead of understanding what they might be going through. It is always easier to slut-shame and blame victims without taking responsibility for the crimes prevalent in society. We can save our daughters by looking out for each other’s daughters because most of the sexual assaults happen in the near vicinity of family, neighbourhood, and workplace.

Men in the family should voluntarily take responsibility and stop ogling artists and actresses, calling them sexual objects because our children observe and learn to slut-shame at a very young age after watching elders of the family doing so.

Mass media had over-highlighted the role of hormones in the teenage years, so much so that we tend to turn a blind eye towards the fact that adolescents are not adults and there is much more to puberty than the desire to do so sex. The desire to explore sexual contact is most often the desire to understand sexuality rather than to indulge in a sexual relationship, and Sex Education is the key to tackling this.

Image source: Still from trailer of Ratsasan, edited on CanvaPro

Liked this post?

Join the 100000 women at Women's Web who get our weekly mailer and never miss out on our events, contests & best reads - you can also start sharing your own ideas and experiences with thousands of other women here!

Comments

About the Author

Dr. Nishtha Mishra

Dr. Nishtha Mishra is an internationally published author. She is a Doctorate in English Literature from one of the reputed Central Universities. She has been an all round topper and has 5 gold medals to read more...

25 Posts | 16,523 Views

Stay updated with our Weekly Newsletter or Daily Summary - or both!

All Categories