Deterrence by Shaming
Updated: May 1
Story by Anonymous
I have been a teacher’s pet ever since I can remember. Top of the class, good at disciplining classmates, good at making models, charts, scrap books; and I was proud of it. As a result, I naturally held teachers in high esteem.
My ninth-grade English teacher was my favourite, she was kind and friendly. There were two boys who used to flirt with me and my best friend. We knew but used to see them just as friends. They used to forcefully move people who were sitting behind us and sit there instead and go out of their way to make us notice.
We didn't know what to do because this was our first encounter with boys imposing themselves. We knew something wasn't right, but we didn't say anything and continued to treat them like friends.
After some time, a surprise parent-teacher meeting occurs. My parents were habitual of receiving my praises at school so they undoubtably went and I had no reason to think this meet would be any different.
When I came home the day of the meet my parents confronted me that I was flirting and getting inappropriately close to boys. It turns out my teacher had told our parents that me and my best friend were getting dangerously close to boys and were behaving in a tasteless manner. The parents of the mentioned boys were not invited to the meeting, and no one thought to question or speak with them about their actions.
Before raising questions about our character in front of parents, my teacher made no attempt to get our side of story. I was shocked that a teacher whom I revered could be so inconsiderate.
Those boys were unaffected by the ordeal that nearly cost us our parents’ trust and continued to hound us for quite some time. In retrospect, I realise they were borderline harassing us, and we didn't really understand or know how to deal with it.
My sports teacher once pulled me from the assembly line and made me stand in the back because I dared to wear kajal. I was told to apply cooking oil from school kitchen because there wasn’t enough oil in my hair by the same teacher.
On my 15th birthday I was berated in front of the whole class because I got my bangs cut above eye level. On that day I went to distribute chocolates with tears in my eyes.
The hurt and shame I endured because I was a girl who wanted to explore new things still weighs on my heart. Most teachers’ basic mindset is that girls who sit next to boys, who don’t apply oil in hair, go to school with any hairstyle other than two plaits or apply makeup have poor character.
We are most stupid and vulnerable during adolescence and yearn to explore the fascinating adult world. We should be made familiar with the changes and unwanted/wanted advances in an educational and compassionate way. Policing teenage girls has not and would not result in any solution.
Our society has a history of girls and women being deterred into a good girl and a good housewife by shaming. It is past time for educational institutions, which bear the weight of instilling rational thinking in youth, to stop doing this and discontinue the practice of female sports teachers bullying girls to death.
Women who are deterred into submission by shaming will do the deterrence by shaming women later in life. When is this toxic cycle going to stop?