‘What Did You Do?’ Is The 1st Thing A Teacher Asks A Girl Complaining Of A Boy Harassing Her!

Teachers bring their patriarchal conditioning to work, discriminating against girls. And if the family of the student is also patriarchal and supports this world view, then the child suffers.

Patriarchy is a part of our society whether it is at home, at work or in our social circle. One area where we believe our children and the youth of today are free are the schools and colleges.

We all look at teachers as someone who will guide our children and teach them from the right and wrong. But over the years I have realised that they are as much a part of society conditioning as the parents and students. And as a result a lot of their conditioning gets transferred to the students and shapes the children’s thought process and behaviour.

A few examples I have come across in the last few years,

School uniform, skirts for girls and pants for boys

This ensures that the girls are always uncomfortable when they have sit on the floor, do physical activities, in sports period and climbing or coming down the stairs. And then the teachers are always after them to check the length of the skirt and how tight their shirts are. The boys are not held to the same standards.

Discrimination on the sports ground by teachers

During sports classes most often the teacher differentiates between girls and boys. The vocabulary, behaviour and instructions are all biased against the girls. Even if a girl is good at sports, she is discriminated against by the teacher or by the boy students if she is the only girl student. This dissuades the girls from actively participating in sports.

Career options are looked at as ‘for boys’ and ‘for girls’

When career options are discussed in high school, the teachers stick to conventional options for girls and boys. It further strengthens the world views of the students and discourages girls from choosing careers in so called “boys dominated” career.

‘What did YOU do?’

When a girl complains of a boy harassing the first instinct of the teacher is to ask the girl what did she do? This dissuades the girl from approaching the authority or complaining the next time something happens, and also puts her in self doubt about her behaviour. In the long run it has an effect on her emotional well being and her decision to pursue higher education.

When a girl and boy are friends in school

The teacher is the first person to separate them thus creating unhealthy boundaries in the student’s mind. Both genders are conditioned that girls and boys cannot be friends and there is something indecent about interacting with the other genders. And especially the girls who are judged for being “free” and seeking male attention.

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And there are so many more examples of the teachers and the principals bringing their patriarchal conditioning to the students. And if the family of the student is also patriarchal and supports this world view, then the child grows into an adult having the same thoughts and beliefs and the cycle continues.

So it is important that we start looking at teachers / schools / colleges as a product of the society and take active part and engage with them in a positive manner. It is time for us to have more of the likes of Nikumbh Sir from Tare Zameen Par and bring about a change in the mindsets and structures of our education system.

Share with us the patriarchy that you faced in your school or college in the comments below.

Image source: a still from the film Gippi

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About the Author

Deepti Arora

Strong believer in the power of conversations and finding comfort in uncomfortable conversations. Love to encourage both genders to break the chains of patriarchy and come into their own indentity. Also love exploring the space read more...

8 Posts | 5,392 Views

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