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Opinion: How Misogynistic Attitudes are Internalised by Young Girls in Schools

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Opinion: How Misogynistic Attitudes are Internalised by Young Girls in Schools

Prevalent misogynistic attitudes cause women to be trapped in a position of lower social status. Although things have been done to move forward from this ideology we still, to this day, live in a patriarchal society, with these ideas buried deep into our lives.

We all have experience of the way gender stereotypes are internalised in us from very young age. We learn about what boys and girls should be into. Girls are expected to want to wear dresses and makeup and play with dolls, but if they were to decide that they want to do something that is generally expected of boys, such as football, they are still ridiculed and mocked. Setting up this sort of environment and mind-set is detrimental to young girls’ mental health and doesn’t do boys any favours either, as they too are trapped in limiting gender stereotypes. When so many of us recognise the problems caused by gender stereotyping, why do these outdated attitudes continue to thrive?

Everyone is subjected to sexism even if it isn’t completely obvious like in primary schools where teachers may ask for “a strong boy” to carry something for them. This may seem like a completely innocent request; however, it can still instil a mind-set that boys are the only ones that can have these specific characteristics, making girls believe they are unable to have these typically “masculine” traits and isolating them from others. This can lead to them to wonder why they are considered to be different and can begin to see themselves in a negative light, due to them not understanding why they seem so different to others their age. What’s more, according to the National Education Union, over a third (34%) of primary school teachers say they witness gender stereotyping in their school on at least a weekly basis.

If you have attended a uniformed school before you may have noticed that these stereotypes become clearer prior to a non-uniform day. For example, there may have been a PowerPoint highlighting what you should and shouldn’t wear. This usually targets the girls pointing out how skirts must be below the knee, or that crop tops are not allowed. Although you should still dress appropriately for a school environment, it is a time for children to express themselves and providing them with strict set of rules on what can and can’t be worn is unjust especially when the boys are provided with no restrictions at all. If girls are going to be provided with a dress code, should the boys not be as well?

It isn’t just the way women look or dress either; misogyny is evident in many different ways. Have you ever noticed that boys are often picked first when it comes to PE or any type of sports activity whereas the girls are usually left till last? These attitudes can often be carried on into later life as one recent study concluded that in the UK 1.5 million fewer women than men participate in sport at least once a month.      

Even our potential physical skill is used as a way to ridicule other people's capabilities, by associating being feminine to negative characteristics. Using language such as “you throw like a girl” implies that women are unable to do physical activities. The way this language is commonly used in a casual way degrades women and can fuel a quite harmful and narrow mindset non how you should represent yourself in today's society.

Why is it that so many people agree and believe that women should be set at the same standard to men, yet we are brought up with such ideals that counter argue this? We need to move away from this ideology and stop discrimination towards girls just because of who they are.

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