Between 2012 and 2015, 600 rapes were recorded in UK schools. “Why didn’t you stop when she was crying?” a teacher asked a 14-year-old perpetrator. “It’s normal for girls to cry during sex,” he replied.
Blanche Girouard, basing herself partly on a report published last September in a pithy piece in Standpoint magazine on the sexualised nightmare many schools have become. Don't click on the links if you are of a sensitive disposition.
Girouard argues that we need to see the difference between normal flirtation and violent sexual assault, and that children need to be educated in this difference also. It doesn't sound much to ask, but the 'me too' phenomenon, and the heavy-handed policing of sexism in schools, seems determined to blur the distinction. It is true that flirtation coming from a person with great power over the other party, as has been the case with Weinstein and others, is a serious matter, but it is still different from a violent sexual assault. And the 'me too' hashtag has not been limited to such cases.
If super-sensitivity to imagined sexist slights is not the answer to sexual violence, what is? It is to be hoped that the argument that adults have a right to pornography (or that it imbues them with nice, liberal attitudes) will be worn down by its hideous social cost, but pornography is only part of the picture. Why are children looking at pornography? Yes, it is available, but their access to it speaks of something wrong in the home. Why are they using it as the basis of their relationships? Yes, it has a dark allure, but it is most attractive to children who don't have much else. Boys and girls are both, in their different ways, particularly vulnerable if they don't have fathers in the home. The wider picture is of family breakdown and a collapse of values.
Hashtags cost little, and acheive less. Who wants to campaign to make divorce harder and dis-incentise single parenthood? It won't make you popular. But unless we start talking about it, this problem is not going away.
See also my posts:
'Sexual abuse of schoolgirls by schoolboys'
'What exactly is wrong with Sex Ed for four-year-olds?'
'Sex education and sexual exploitation'
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