Dr Variyan says it’s important to stress that not all of the boys who attend these schools become misogynists or sexual predators. However, he says the sense of privilege that comes with tuition fees, amazing campuses and facilities, cloistered environments, and cultures that promote hyper-masculinity can turn toxic if left untreated.
“These schools sell privileges. There is one born to rule aspect that parents choose these schools for in the first place, ”said Dr Variyan.
Solutions must start in schools
A review of sexual harassment, intimidation and assault in the Australian Parliament by Gender Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins last week revealed shocking statistics.
More than half of those who currently work in Parliament have experienced at least one incident of bullying, sexual harassment, or actual or attempted sexual assault, while 77 percent have experienced, witnessed or heard of. ‘such behavior.
The review found that power imbalances, male-dominated workplaces, a culture of silence and a ‘work hard, play hard’ culture all contributed to high levels of inappropriate behavior, as did the structure of the job. which makes each parliamentarian their own micro-enterprise.
As one witness to the review said: “It’s a man’s world, and you remember it every day from the top-down looks you get, the representation in parliamentary chambers, the preferential treatment. that politicians give to high-ranking male journalists. . “
Dr Variyan said the solution had to start in schools, but programs that pretended to talk about respectful relationships lacked impact and the problem was more complex than previous sex education.
Even in the post- # metoo movement, there is plenty of evidence that elite boys’ schools are not undergoing fundamental cultural change. In 2019, boys from exclusive St Kevin’s College Melbourne were caught on camera on a streetcar chanting vile and sexist lyrics.
In October 2020, an end-of-year scavenger hunt among Shore School boys on Sydney’s Lower North Shore included agenda items such as’ get with an Asian chick ‘,’ get manual work ”and“ hook up with a random girl ”.
Dr Variyan said the only way to combat such behavior is for schools to engage in emotionally uncomfortable and difficult conversations with boys.
“The dangerous issues are not so much about masculinity as it is about the practices of elite boys’ schools that allow the worst aspects of these behaviors,” Dr Variyan said.
Some of these practices include exclusivity, gender segregation, valuing hyper-masculinity, and power imbalances between affluent student families and teaching staff.