Teachers attack ‘rebranded’ sexism

Pole dancers in London Pole dancing was criticised by teachers

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Teachers are warning that young people are being damaged by an over-sexualised culture.

The National Union of Teachers annual conference heard claims sexism is being “rebranded” as something fashionable and mainstream.

Delegates criticised the “raunch culture” of lap-dancing clubs and pole dancing.

Teachers, meeting in Liverpool, say it can have a “disastrous effect on the self-image of girls”.

The National Union of Teachers heard warnings from teachers that “sexism and inequality are still a huge factor in shaping women’s lives”.

The conference heard claims that old-fashioned sexism has not gone away, but has been re-invented into something that appears to be “ironic or empowering”.

Teachers warned that pole dancing clubs and beauty pageants are turning back the clock on decades of campaigning for sexual equality.

There are concerns that pupils are growing up in a culture where pornographic images are widely available, cosmetic surgery is advertised and there is a “fixation” with staying slim.

Teachers fear this can undermine young women’s self-confidence and contribute to problems such as eating disorders and anxiety about their appearance.

This can disrupt both girls’ school work and their social life, say teachers.

The motion said: “Growing up in a world where it is normal for women’s bodies to be seen as sex objects affects the way that girls in our schools grow to view themselves and their place in society.”

There were also claims that this is linked to the number of sexual assaults and incidents of domestic violence.

Delegates called for recognition of the negative impact of sexism and the need to protect equal rights for women.

Start Quote

It is important for all children and young people to learn, in an age-appropriate manner, about respect for their own and other people's bodies and emotions”

End Quote Christine Blower NUT

In an earlier debate on the conference on Sunday, teachers described the problems of young people living in an environment with such widespread access to pornography.

A teacher from east London talked of pupils setting up websites showing sexual images of teenage girls in their schools.

NUT delegate Kiri Tonks said social media was making it easier for sexism to be spread and better sex education for both sexes was needed.

"It is having a real impact on behaviour," she told BBC News.

"Girls and women internationally are victims of violence that has come out of these kinds of attitudes, but if we want to change the behaviour, we have to talk to boys as well."

Sex and relationship education is compulsory in state-funded secondary schools, but it is up to primary schools to decide if they want to teach it.

'Young children'

Last week, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers’ annual conference also heard warnings of pupils viewing aggressive sexual images.

Teachers said they feared pupils could be “desensitised” by such images and called for more guidance on how schools should tackle such an over-sexualised youth culture.

Even very young children were inadvertently exposed to such images, the ATL conference heard, either by watching video games with older children or watching late night television.

Teachers said that they had heard sexually explicit language from young children.

NUT general secretary Christine Blower said: “It is important for all children and young people to learn, in an age-appropriate manner, about respect for their own and other people’s bodies and emotions.

“This is all the more important given the rising levels of pornography which is very much in the public domain. There also continues to be a high rate of sexual harassment and homophobic bullying in society at large, despite efforts in schools to address and reduce it.”

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said ministers were clear about the importance of PSHE (Personal, social and health education).

"PSHE encompasses a number of different areas, many of which are compulsory," she said.

"Beyond that it is right that teachers are given the freedom to tailor PSHE to the pupils whose needs they know best. We are funding the PSHE Association to demonstrate best practice in covering the subject."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 170.

    The school I work in has decided to make the school uniform trousers only as a result of some of the girls wearing inappropriate length skirts.

    You only have to look at some of the celebs and pop stars held up as role models for young people to see why youngsters see these images as normal and desirable. I agree that parents should share responsibility and look at what their child does & wears!

  • rate this

    Comment number 169.

    "This can disrupt both girls’ school work and their social life, say teachers."
    This can disrupt girls AND BOYS, making girls into objects; boys into predators, & generating body dysmorphia in both. Not to seem anti-religious, but part of the blame must fall on religions that teach we are born in sin & failing to teach that there is a divine spark (a part of God) in all of us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 168.

    144. "There's a bizarre feminist belief that man are offended by male nudes. Like most feminist ideas about men, that's total nonsense. We're not offended - just not very interested."

    Really? Because your pornography is full of them =)

    I don't know where you get the idea that women don't like looking at pictures of naked men. Seriously. How are you getting that vibe?

  • rate this

    Comment number 167.

    'All these so called educated women'....This: 'Just keep on going, they don't have the courage of their convictions' attitude is the outdated one and the one that will fail. There's too many people in this country and in the world who are up on this basic right and it's the ignorant who should try a bit harder or they're going to get really left behind. Or mind their own business :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 166.

    I personally agree with the teachers, children aren't being allowed to be children, the media, trashy magazines aimed at pre-teens full of makeup tips and the celebrities they are supposed to idolise, scaled down "sexy" clothes for small girls, the pressure to look attractive to the opposite sex at a young age, surely this is adding to the massive pressure on young people in adolescence already

  • Comment number 165.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 164.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 163.

    THE UK HAS THE HIGHEST NUMBER OF UNDERAGED PREGNANCIES IN EUROPE! Maybe it is time to learn something from other countries?! The sexual education at very early age is not beneficial! Kind become interested in sex and start experimenting. I cannot believe that nobody sees connection between the two. :(

  • rate this

    Comment number 162.

    Teachers are right to speak out against sexism but they'll get no support from Gove and Wilshaw. Gove is only concerned to introduce the kind of schooling that is satirised in Hard Times. Wilshaw just barks at anyone who wants kids to think rather then memorise lists of whatever Gove thinks is jolly good. What a pair.
    The Tories' omnishambles will take some clearing up after 2015.

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    151 Republic..134. ruminations

    Kids need media literacy lessons,

    Kids need to read, write and add up, a task seemingly beyond most school-leavers these days.


    Fair enough, I`m not sure it represents the majority tho..

    We could try talking to them, and highlight the culture they live in, with emphasis on healthy emotions, attitudes, informed choices..

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    Leo do you think that 11, 12, 13 yr old girls should have the freedom to choose pole dancing or lap dancing as a potential career choice? Or do you think that society as a whole should aim to protect the young from themselves until they are mature enough to make an informed choice?

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    As an NUT member I don't see why they are debating this. There's no action they could take that could have any effect on 'sexism inour culture'.

    @139.Wulf Sternhammers Happystick

    "... remove socialist worker ... from all staff rooms in the country!"

    Taught for 25 years in 4 schools and never seen one. Why not remove your trashy Daily Mail fantasies?

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    It is probably the genes and generations, I develop low blood sugar level, breathe fast, speak incoherently when I see women with short skirts


  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    Comment 130 - NO it means that politicians should stop sticking their noses in and constantly changing the system year after year and let us teach! 60% of the paper work that I do is for the benefit of ofsted! And I am not exagerating! I also care passionately about the children in my School. A happy child will be more confident as an adult and less likely to be a victim!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 156.

    All these so called educated wemen dont see that they have brought it on themselfs. Lets uneducate them and get them back to having and looking after families. Then the world will be a better place.

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

    Teachers are doing their best to neuter society.

  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    Teachers don't just retire earlier but there is also an "understanding" that as you are about to retire you may be able to call it a redundancy. This results in a further payout and, more importantly, having your pension enhanced (which costs a fortune). As far as I know this does not happen elsewhwere in the Public Sector (at least not in my case). 4 teachers I know benefitted from this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 153.

    139. Wulf Sternhammers Happystick
    I have had this removed once before thanks to 73 Donald Deed so I will try again..
    Nope. I responded to your post, I didn't refer you, I don't need to, I am quite happy with my reaction to your comment to a degree I want everyone to see what I commented on. That's why I also quoted your original post in my comment. Sigh.

  • rate this

    Comment number 152.

    "Last week, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers’ annual conference also heard warnings of pupils viewing aggressive sexual images."

    Last week?! Have their heads been stuck in the sand for the last 20 years.These are the people who, next to parents, exert great influence over children, yet all they can do is talk about it. Presumably we can expect the action plan will follow?

  • Comment number 151.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?


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