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Schoolgirl hits back at sexist uniform critics: “I don't want to be ladylike, I want equality”

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Kayleigh Dray
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Faith Sobotker is only 15 years old. But, when she and the rest of the female students at Kambrya College, Australia, were hauled into an assembly and told to stop wearing makeup, wearing “distracting” short skirts, and sending “sexy selfies”, she knew it was time to take a stand against slut-shaming.

The Year 9 student made an impromptu speech during her textiles class, in which she challenged the sexist norms that her school was perpetuating – and demanded that she be treated like an equal.

Looking directly into the camera, she begins her message by saying: “No matter how I present myself I am confident and I am comfortable.

“My self-respect is doing what makes me happy. When I am hungry I eat, when I am thirsty I drink, okay? I have self-respect.

“I look after myself. You can’t tell me what self-respect is, what ladylike is, because we don’t live in the 50s anymore. I am looking for equality.”

I am 15 years old. You do not get to sexualise me like that, you do not get to tell me that my body is sacred, because it isn’t.

Faith continues: “I am looking forward to being able to show off my body without being sexualised. I am 15 years old. You do not get to sexualise me like that, you do not get to tell me that my body is sacred, because it isn’t.

“Half the population are females. We’re not sacred, we’re not a new discovery, okay? People know that I have legs, I have knees, I have thighs, and I have periods once a month.

“I get angry and frustrated and I still have to deal with those boys saying, ‘Omg are you on your period ?’”

Watch Faith’s speech in full below:

She finishes by expressing her hopes for a future of equality for women.

“I am sick of the sexism,” she says. “I don’t want to grow up in a society where these girls think they have to be a certain way because they can be however they want to be, they can be whatever makes them comfortable.

“When I leave this school and go to university, when I have independence, more independence than I do now (I do have a little bit but not much), when I do get to that point, I want to know that this school has raised a society of people who treat each other with equality, with respect, no matter how they dress, how they have their hair, no matter they wear their makeup.”

I get angry and frustrated and I still have to deal with those boys saying, ‘Omg are you on your period?'

The video has been viewed thousands of times since the Melbourne student shared it on her Facebook page, with many viewers praising Faith for her bravery in standing up against discrimination.

Meanwhile Catherine Manning, whose daughter attends the same school as Faith, also criticised Kambrya College for “fighting sexism with sexism”.

Read more: Why we need to stop telling schoolgirls that their uniforms are 'distracting'

Taking to Facebook, she wrote: “As a parent, I am MORTIFIED that my daughter was subjected to such appalling messaging at the hands of those entrusted to care for her, and as a provider of a successful respectful relationships program (seedworkshops.com.au) that effectively addresses this very issue.

“I am disappointed that despite offering my program free of charge, as yet this opportunity hasn’t been taken up by this school. This is not the first time it’s been made very apparent to me that these students would benefit greatly from it.”

She continued: “The problem is not with the girls and the length of their skirts, nor whether or not they choose to share photos with their boyfriends or anyone else.

“It’s with the boys themselves; their sense of entitlement and sexist attitudes towards women and girls, their lack of respect, and the trust they CHOOSE to break.”

You can read her full post on Facebook.

Kambrya Collega have yet to comment on the criticism levelled against them.

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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