I came across this news story yesterday. Some school official told a girl’s mother that, if her daughter wanted to end the harassment she was subjected to, she should get a breast reduction. Because, you know, how dare you have a body that might make people think of sex.
And then there is the video posted up at Womanist Musings a little while back. Teens were shown the story of Amanda Todd – the girl who was harassed, stalked, slut-shamed, abandoned by her friends, and eventually killed herself. Because god forbid you show your tits or have sex. And if you don’t have anything to show, you will get shamed for that too, as one of the girls in that video tearfully describes.
The school official that suggested a breast reduction isn’t some anomaly. @Pliny_theElder put it perfectly.
School is all about control and shaming. And the kids learn to shame and bully just like the adults. Look at some of the tweets that went out yesterday with the tag
Is it really a shock that, when a school spends all their time monitoring how much skin you are showing, you end up with comments like:
(92 retweets last I looked. The number of girls who retweeted that makes me want to vomit.)
People hear about Amanda Todd and ask what we should do about bullies in school. Administrators need to crack down. Parents need to get involved. We better do away with free speech because of bullies. We should put students in jail for filming a fight, because that is cyberbullying. Kids are so mean and out of control. How can we better control them?
Kids are mean. They are mean precisely because parents, administrators, teachers, and every other adult they grow up around teaches them shame, shaming, and bullying every day of their lives. They are mean precisely because people are constantly trying to control them – their sexuality, their thoughts, their appearance, their dreams.
And the tinier the box we push kids into, the more nasty they will be in trying to keep other kids smashed into those same boxes. You want to know how adults can stop bullying? Stop being bullies.
P.S. That pic is from a story by Dick Gregory about how he learned shame in school. Read it.