Women and girls are sharing their experiences about being harassed at school. Here’s why it’s so important that the Twitter thread is going viral.
For far too long, we’ve been expected to accept the narrative that “boys will be boys”. From putting up with boys touching our bodies without consent in high school classrooms to ignoring constant cat-calling while walking down the street, women are told to “put up and shut up” with harassment.
It’s a stereotype that licenses men to do what they want without any regard for the consequences. This kind of thinking is part of the reason why Harvey Weinstein victims felt silenced for so long.
And that’s only one high-profile case.
One in two women have been harassed at work, and nearly one third of women who take public transport have experienced unwanted attention. But a 2018 survey showed that men greatly underestimate the level of sexual harassment experienced by women. If we’re all brought up to accept harassment as part of daily life, perhaps it’s little wonder that it continues to happen.
But a viral Twitter thread is proving that we’ve had enough of being expected to put up with such behaviour, especially during our school years.
The discussion was started by a woman who tweeted: “How fucking mental is it that in school random boys would grope you multiple times per day and girls just sort of begrudgingly accepted it as a part of growing up even though it was disgusting.”
And the reaction shows just how prevalent a problem this has been, and continues to be, for women around the world.
One woman pointed out how easy it was for us to brush off the harassment in school, writing: “How has it taken me until this very moment reading this tweet to realise how fucked up some of the boys behaved in secondary school.”
People then started to share their specific and, sadly, relatable, personal experiences.
One Twitter user wrote: “It was a running joke with the main ‘popular’ guys group in my school that they’d always try and look up girls skirts… and teachers would be like ‘lol watch out Sally you’re next !!’ as if it’s not absolutely disgusting behaviour.”
Another added: “Didn’t think about this till recently; one of my classmates I sat next to used to grab my leg and squeeze it in the middle of class. I would laugh awkwardly and thought that’s just how he jokes around cause he would laugh as well.”
“Remember when boys would just run up behind a girl and snap her bra strap in middle school?” asked another. “I used to get WELTS. I have way too many “accidental” groping stories from middle school and high school.”
Another then pointed out why girls so often keep quiet about it, writing: “Plus there were boys who’d walk past you in the hallways and touch your breasts/butt or even like… cup your crotch?? But they’d do it in such a way that you almost second guessed if it was an accident and never felt comfortable telling anyone in case u were ‘overreacting’.”
For the people who denied this kind of behaviour takes place, one Twitter user said: “The people in the comments like “this doesn’t happen everywhere” Yes, it does. If you didn’t experience it, good, still happens all the time. Girls experience this behaviour from a very young age. The first time a boy at school groped me, I was 10. He was 11.”
Girls who are still in school also contributed to the conversation, proving that this is still an ongoing problem.
“I remember getting upskirted for the first time earlier this school year, and when I went to go complain about it to an acquaintance, I was told “hey, at least boys pay attention to you and like you” and they started whining about how they want the same treatment. ew,” wrote one student
But many teachers also made a point of explaining what they are doing to tackle harassing behaviours..
On wrote: “Every single time a student of mine tells me someone touched them in a way they did not consent to, that person gets an automatic referral. No questions asked. Every time.”
Although it’s at least promising to hear that teachers are taking action when girls speak up, it’s still important to ask why this is still happening in the first place?