“Bitches” teaching boys about respecting women

So, someone goes on SaveOurSchools Facebook page promoting a parent lecturing Wellington College Principal Roger Moses on the “rape culture” of his college and his response to it.

She also lectures him on the use of social media and what an outstanding parent she is (her son goes to WC) and how she is teaching her son respect for women and how to use social media.

This exactly encompasses my thoughts about Wellington College Principal’s comments about this week’s events. His focus on the fact that the boys should understand that social media is never truly private completely misses the point. The issue is boys who think that it’s okay to joke and boast about rape. That is the issue, as it speaks to a culture where so many think it’s acceptable behaviour so long as they’re not caught. It’s not.

Schools, whanau, the media and society as a whole need to work together to make very clear that only enthusiastic consent means yes, and anything else means no. Always no.

~ Dianne

In case they delete this post here is a screenshot:

A quick look at Marie Fitzpatrick’s Facebook page shows her letter to Roger Moses. She states:

You are quoted in several different publications talking about the lessons the boys need to learn about the public nature of posting in what appears to be a private online community.

Here’s one such quote: “In the supposed privacy of a chatroom things can be said that they think are either appropriate or funny or whatever without actually stopping to think of the implications.”

And another: “Sometimes stupid things are said by stupid boys in the context of what they think is a private page.”

And: “I guess it reflects the dangers of immature boys on social media and the damage that can occur by making these completely deplorable comments.”

What I’d like to address is the fact that social media isn’t the offender here. And neither is WC boys access to it. Social media is not the villain and likewise, it’s not a convenient excuse for headmasters in crisis to spout off when their students bring the school into disrepute.

Simply having the ability to post offensive comments on social media isn’t the trigger that turns an otherwise “nice” boy into someone who would threaten sexual violence against women.

No, there’s a whole bunch of other contributing factors to that. And I’m glad you’re bringing in the experts to help the school and parents navigate those issues better in future. It’s a shame the horse had to bolt for you to realise you should have shut the gate more securely many years ago.

Your repeated focus on the lessons the boys can learn about social media is misguided. And draws attention away from the real issues here: WC culture and rape culture and how the two intertwine.

Like everyone else, I was horrified at the content of those posts. But to me, as a new parent at WC, the most alarming element in those posts was the fact that these boys genuinely believe that showing that sort of sexual dominance and violence is the very thing that helps define them as a “WC Boy”.

I sincerely hope that the percentage of boys at WC who equate sexual violence with their school pride is very small.

But it speaks to a wider problem with the macho school identity that I genuinely believe you encourage – sometimes explicitly (sporting dominance over other schools, etc), and sometimes more subtly and complicitly. Several other recent incidents (including some vandalism on my son’s school bus by older students) have led me to seriously question our decision to send our son to your school.

The school culture has been demonstrating itself to me as aggressive and narrow minded. Perhaps a switch in focus from “creating great men” to “creating great people” is in order?

So, please stop using social media as an excuse. The issue here is the fact that the boys THINK it’s okay to say things like that and they equate that sort of behaviour with their school pride, NOT the fact that they got caught out owning these attitudes by posting them on Facebook.

And save the “be careful what you say in private groups because all of the internet is public” classes for another day.

I don’t want the valuable lessons they can learn about rape culture and sexism as a result of this incident to be diluted by a message that undermines that important work by effectively saying to them, “and even if you do think these awful things, make sure you don’t get caught by posting stuff online.”

As for my son, we’ve had a number of important conversations this week, which form a wider dialogue on equality, sexuality and consent that we’re having with him regularly as he grows older. We’re also teaching him about how to navigate social media safely.

I wonder if that talk she had with her model child included not using disparaging terms to talk about women, like “bitches”.

I say this because she is also promoting a cooking page called “Good Bitches Baking” – which she is proudly a co-founder of.

Her website states:

Two years ago we decided to try to make the world a little bit less shitty, by baking treats for people having a tough time. We asked if anyone else wanted to join in. We truly had no idea that hundreds hundreds would.

In fact, so many people have joined us, we’ve gone from a tiny group of 15 people based in Central Wellington to a national registered charity that’s growing all the time. Right now, we have 10 chapters already bitching around the country, and at least 10 more in the pipeline. We have close to 1,000 volunteer bitches, and so many people joining every day that in some places we even have waiting lists.

And we’ve lost count, but we reckon we’ve given close on 100,000 moments of happiness.

Lovely…all that angry talk on social media and a public website describing women helping bake things as “bitches”. Perhaps she should take heed of her own advice to Roger Moses and tone down the angry anti-women stance of her words. Except of course they describe “good bitches” like this:

Good Bitches Baking is all about spreading a bit of sweetness in our communities. We aim to give a moment of happiness to people going through a tough time.

Anyone can be a Good Bitchit’s a very admiring and gender-inclusive term. Good Bitches are people who want to help those in their community who are having a tough time. You don’t have to be a master baker, because it’s the kindness in your intentions that matters more than the final product.

“Admiring and gender-inclusive”? What sort of mental gymnastics is she using to come to that conclusion?

Misogynists say “Bitches get Stitches”… this use of the term isn’t that far removed from that. it is derogatory of women in general and I’ve love to see her explain it away after her lecturing letter to Roger Moses.

 

– Facebook

 


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