Some of those girls can be real drama queens’: issues of gender, sexual harassment and schooling
Since the 1970s many feminists working for gender justice in education have highlighted the predominance and seriousness of sexual harassment in schools and condemned the enduring trivialization of such behaviours. This paper develops this body of work by focusing on how issues of sexual harassment are located within prevailing contemporary western educational contexts that position boys as 'victims' of feminism and 'girl-friendly' schooling. It is argued here that such contexts draw attention away from the powerful spaces that many boys continue to inhabit in schools. Counter to the popular notion that girls no longer face problems in relation to their schooling, the paper foregrounds the voices of four (14-year-old) Grade Eight girls from Tasmania, Australia who detail their disturbing experiences of sexual harassment. Pointing to the grave inadequacies of common remedies used to address these behaviours, such as prescriptive discipline systems that ignore issues of gender and power and boy-friendly remedies that collude in the perpetuation of inequitable gender relations, the paper highlights the imperative of disrupting the erasure of these issues from current dominant equity debates and the urgency of better addressing this problem in schools. Along these lines, the paper calls for teacher practice that acts against the grain of broader anti-feminist and performative school cultures to transform the masculinities of entitlement that contribute to these unacceptable behaviours.
Gender, Sexuality and Education