Slut shaming in school

// 9 February 2009

A careers advisor at a Hampshire school told a 13-year-old pupil that her short skirt made her “look like a slut”, and was “not doing much for your cellulite”, reports the Daily Mail.

Good to know that schools are doing such a fantastic job, isn’t it?

Aisher says she was stacking chairs in the school dining hall when Virginia Green told her to lengthen her skirt.

Mrs Green is then said to have made the ‘slut’ comment before adding that the short skirt was ‘not doing much for your cellulite’.

The remark was overheard by staff and pupils at Bohunt School in Liphook, Hampshire.

Last night, Aisher’s mother Amanda, 36, said: ‘I couldn’t believe that a teacher would use such foul and disgusting language to a pupil.

‘It’s the kind of thing that you might expect another pupil to say but teachers should know better. It’s tantamount to bullying.

‘Aisher has a birthmark on her thigh which I think Mrs Green must have mistaken for cellulite.

‘For one of her teachers to make a comment like that about it was really hurtful and she was very upset.’

The mother-of-three added: ‘Teachers should be giving children confidence for their future lives, not speaking to them in such a despicable way.’

The teacher has written to Aisher’s mother apologising for what she said, but not, apparently, to the girl herself.

Even more ‘interestingly’, although the teacher has apparently admitted this is what happened, the headmaster headteacher of the school – instead of apologising profusely and dealing with an incident of a teacher bullying a pupil – appears to be denying the comment was directed at the girl at all:

In a letter of apology to Mrs Smyth, he wrote: ‘I find it regrettable that such indiscreet comments were made in earshot of any pupil and can understand why Aisher felt they were aimed at her.

‘I don’t believe they were, but sympathise with Aisher.’

What a school, hey?

(However, as Rhetorically Speaking points out, the Mail’s shock-horror tone in this story is a bit hypocritical, to say the least, considering how it repeats exactly the same messages as the teacher in its pages on a regular basis.)

*Good point, Alex! (see comments below)

Comments From You

magic_at_mungos // Posted 9 February 2009 at 11:33 am

*facepalms* Yes her skirt was probably too short according to the school rules (If it was anything like my school, skirts had to touch the top of the knee). Yes, a lot of girls do roll their skirts up at the waistband whether or not wearing a skirt that length flatters their figure. But surely there’s a more appropiate way of telling the student that the skirt was too short.

Hannah // Posted 9 February 2009 at 11:48 am

I wouldn’t advise reading the comments unless you’d really like an enormous dose of horrendousness. According to one comment, ‘What does the girl’s mother want – for her to be pregnant at 15?!’ – and of course plenty of readers actually do think she ‘looks like a slut’. What else would you expect, to be honest…

Kez // Posted 9 February 2009 at 11:59 am

Ohhh dear. Teenage girls do shorten their skirts… and “adapt” the uniform in various ways… it’s just one of those things that teenage girls tend to do. It’s often rebelliousness as much as anything else, rather than an attempt to look sexually provocative. I did it myself (not to quite that short, admittedly) and would have been completely, horribly, hideously mortified had a teacher said that to me, as it would never actually have occurred to me that I was potentially sending out “those” signals. I just thought I was being cool. (Ah, those days of innocence.) Yes, she should have been told her attire was inappropriate for school, but in a different, less shaming way.

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 9 February 2009 at 12:03 pm

Let’s imagine the teacher made a racist comment to a black boy because his hair style was not in accordance with the school rules. Would such a racist comment be excused/justified? Would the boy be blamed for causing the teacher to make the racist comment? I think not but when it comes to women’s and girls’ bodies it is open season and far too many men and a lot of women believe it is acceptable to dehumanise women and girls by calling them s….. The term itself is a male-defined one and all too often used to infer a woman/girl is not worthy of respect and dignity unlike males.

This female teacher engaged in sexually harassing a female pupil. She should have been severely reprimanded by the Head teacher and she should have apologised to the girl, not send a letter to the girl’s mother. What message did this girl receive? Why it is acceptable and normal for girls to be told they are s……. because if they do not adhere to male-defined definitions of supposedly appropriate feminine attire then they will not be treated with respect. Blaming women rape survivors for supposedly causing males to rape them is part of the same issue as calling women and girls s…….

Then we wonder why increasing numbers of girls are suffering and yes I use this word advisedly, suffering male sexual harassment and male sexual violence from their male peers with the school environment. It is happening because male sexual harassment and male sexual violence against girls is seen as not an issue but instead ‘just boys enacting male power over girls.’ Teachers too are responsible for allowing such male violence to continue unchecked and one way they do it is by enacting similar behaviour as boy sexual harassers enact.

Boys too alter their school uniforms and one could easily say they ‘dress inappropriately’ but I’ve yet to read/hear such boys called sexually insulting names because of their attire.

The focus must be on why too many teachers continue to reinforce misogynistic views that girls are either/madonnas or whores. We cannot change such attitudes and behaviour if teachers and Head Teachers continue to believe such behaviour has nothing to do with them and how they behave towards female pupils.

As for the Daily Male – well its agenda is a women-hating one and it refuses to see it enacts male sexual double standards against women and girls, but that does not negate the real issue, which is how girls continue to be treated by far too many schools as sexualised commodities not human beings.

Azure // Posted 9 February 2009 at 12:28 pm

What I find most distressing is that the Mail was so desperate to say that it wasn’t cellulite. As if the worst thing in the story is the accusation that the girl was – shock – a normal body weight!

Something about a 13 year-old wearing a skirt that short does make me feel uneasy, but the problem isn’t with that itself but patriarchal constructions of sexuality. Calling her a slut somehow normalises the idea that a short skirt means she’s meant to be sexually available, but then effectively calling her ‘fat’ a) reinforces normative beauty standards b) vindicates whatever ideas the girl has about how teenage girls are meant to act and look. That is, it’d be okay to wear a short skirt if she didn’t have ‘cellulite’ and if she wants to be valid, she should do whatever necessary to lose it. Everything about those comments and the Daily Fail’s response to them is absolutely wrong and very, very saddening. Even worse are the comments. The most highly rated read like “Shame, when people have to apologise for telling the truth.”.

Sabre // Posted 9 February 2009 at 1:31 pm

I was saddened that the girl’s mother felt it necessary to ‘justify’ the cellulite by saying it was a birthmark. Cellulite shouldn’t be something to be defensive about.

I also used to roll up my skirt at school as it came to an unflattering mid-calf length that was very uncool at the time. I had (and still have) what are considered by some to be fat legs. Luckily nobody ever commented on this, to my face anyway. If they had I would have been mortified, because I already felt the pressure to look a certain way, and knew I didn’t fit into that particular mould.

The comment is many times worse when it comes from a figure of authority like this, because while peers may not be taken as seriously, teachers are supposed to know what’s right and their influence is much greater.

I wonder if the career advisor also gives out gendered career advice?

Conservatorygirl // Posted 9 February 2009 at 1:36 pm

When I was 13 I insisted on having a foot length skirt that absolutely didn’t comply with uniform regs but looked great (I thought) with my DMs.

I was constantly told off for it being too long and had many afternoons off having been told to go home and come back in a shorter skirt.

YET, as a competitive figure skater I continued to put on skirts much shorter than Aisher’s and nobody would have suggested it made me look like a slut.

But anyway, it should have been dealt with in the same manner. I don’t know why Mrs Green didn’t just send her to the office to put on uniform spares (all schools have them) and send a note home to the mother.

Those sorts of comments are made frequently in staff rooms so perhaps the *slip up* (I’m being kind) made by Mrs Green was an effect of unhelpful attitudes lingering behind the closed doors of the staff room.

Naomi // Posted 9 February 2009 at 1:45 pm

The Mail could not normally print a close-up of a 13-year-old’s bare thighs, next to an article going on about he age, without looking a bit dodgy. (Though it may want to, if it suddenly got the chance…)

Unless – bright idea! – they print a story ABOUT a schoolgirl showing her thighs!

Relevant then – innit!?! And oh yes, SUCH an important story …

I think the Mail doesn’t give a toss about the teacher’s behaviour or the girl’s feelings.

Anna // Posted 9 February 2009 at 1:56 pm

What worries me is the close-up. Yes.. fantastic idea to show a close-up shot of a thirteen-year-old girl’s upper thighs/arse in the name of ‘investigating journalism’.

Ridiculous. And kind of very wrong.

I always had my skirt ridiculously long at school (for which I was told off), others in my year had it shorter than the girl in question’s.. and this was in an all-girl’s school in which homophobia was rife with an almost totally female staff (the few men were invariably 50+). It’s not for provocation, titillation, or anything of the sort. It’s a teenage girl doing what teenage girls do – rebelling a bit (and ironically trying to fit in at the same time).

God, I hate the Mail.

Catherine Redfern // Posted 9 February 2009 at 1:57 pm

When I was at school, the female PE teacher pointed out a girl’s so-called hairy legs in front of the rest of the PE class (all female). She was humiliated and started saying “What? I shaved them this morning!”.

I was appalled that a teacher could reinforce beauty standards in such a way.

maggie // Posted 9 February 2009 at 3:02 pm

This is an appalling news item. The young pupil deserves an unequivocal apology from the teacher and the head.

A short skirt is a short skirt. It’s not an invitation for someone in authority, or otherwise, to vent their hideous preconceived notions.

Aimee // Posted 9 February 2009 at 4:04 pm

I remember an incident from my school days (I went to an all girl’s school!) where one of my teachers (geography I think) told one of my friends that she looked like a prostitute. Admittedly, her skirt was more akin to a belt and she was wearing rather a lot of makeup, but obviously this language is simply not acceptable. My friend complained to the headmistress and the teacher was forced to apologise.

Just shows there’s such thing as backwards progress. Bah.

Emma // Posted 9 February 2009 at 5:59 pm

Ugh, this reminds me of my school… one of the well-established, respected teachers told some Yr 9s (13-14) that the length of their skirts meant that they deserved to be raped. >.

Alex T // Posted 9 February 2009 at 6:07 pm

I’m not sure that woman was actually a teacher: the article describes her as a member of support staff (i.e. unlikely to be a trained and qualified teacher).

I’m a teacher and I’m a bit tired of the profession being continually slagged off – especially since it probably wasn’t a teacher in this case. Those of us who are properly trained, qualified and monitored are unlikely to behave like this and actively work against discrimination and harassment.

Please just give it a second thought before you tar us all with the same brush. We’re not all bad, and unless you read the TES or the union publications, you’re unlikely ever to hear about all the good work the majority of us do.

By the way, Jess, I’m sure it’s an oversight, but there’s no such job as ‘headmaster’. The term you want is ‘headteacher’.

Aimee // Posted 9 February 2009 at 6:52 pm

Emma.. oh my goodness! That sounds horrific! I think you should complain.

We were also not allowed to wear trousers. At all. we campaigned HARD for it, but never got anywhere. Even though we had to walk through a pretty rough area of town in the morning and often received horrible comments on the way about how “sexy” we were. At 15. Nice. Not only that, but we were often BLOODY freezing. Because we had to wear skirts. Ridiculous. The justifications were uniformity and *ahem* femininity. You have to be “feminine” obviously, otherwise you’re just a degredant, but you can’t be “too sexy” otherwise you’re a slut. It’s difficult to see exactly where we’re *supposed* to fit, really. I wish I was articulate enough to have made these arguments back then.

Anne Onne // Posted 9 February 2009 at 7:31 pm

I remember teachers at my school had a very tactful way of saying that girls have grown, their skirts have not’. Rape or not inflaming male teachers was never mentioned, something I’m very grateful for, seeming as a lot of schools are really, really behind. It was merely a matter of presentability, and rules weren’t enforced incredibly strictly, so there was nobody going around measuring skirts to ensure they didn’t pass two inches above the knee or anything like that. People tended to get told to wear proper uniform for coming in in tracksuit bottoms or trendy microskirts or their year seven skirts as opposed to for being a bit provocative.

A member of staff is within their rights to point out a pupil’s uniform not fitting the rules, but this was entirely inappropriate. It’s not the job of staff to shame pupils or pass judgement on their sexuality or morality.

I went through the system never having heard anyone addressed in such terms or being adressed in such terms, and I saw some very obvious uniform non-compliance. There are lots of ways of pointing out uniform is not up to the rules without resorting to shaming the pupil, and the member of staff should have known better.

The fact that cellulite (real or alleged) was also mentioned, as well as use of the word ‘slut’ implies that for this staff member, it wasn’t about merely enforcing reasonable rules of dress, but about shaming the pupil (how many more times will I write the word ‘shame’ I wonder?) and expressing an ownership over her body. Cellulite has nothing to do with uniform regulations.

Even more annoying is that the headteacher doesn’t want to admit that the remark was adressed at the girl. This was a situation witnessed by other pupils and teachers: it’s not something that can be denied and waved away. Rather than offering an apology for a member of staff showing inappropriate conduct to a pupil,they sidestep the issue very sorry if the pupil thought it was directed at her. I suppose it was directed at the chairs? Grow up. The example of the head unwilling to admit that the adviser said an inappropriate comment TO a pupil, calling them a slut and giving them advice on their cellulite is as bad as the teacher, because they lack the guts to admit a situation nobody else is left in any doubt in.

They should have, as has been said, warned her and maybe sent her parents a note, if they feel it contravenes rules. Yes, dealing with teenagers is difficult, and they do like to rebel, but that doesn’t mean that the adults in the situation should result to childish name-calling. I mean, they’re supposed to be the ones leading by example, right?

A pupil would be disciplined for use of such a word, so a staff member should certainly have written the girl a letter of apology, as well as that letter to the parents.

Rose // Posted 9 February 2009 at 8:02 pm

She’s a kid.

She wasn’t ‘getting it on’ with anybody in the store room. She wasn’t stripping on the table. She wasn’t ‘indecently’ exposed.

I think kids should be able to wear short skirts without the threat of sexual harassment.

When I was her age I would wear skirts that short. I wouldn’t now, because I wouldn’t feel physically safe.

Potential violence from guys should not dictate who she is as an individual. Flesh is not a sin. I think that teacher needs to get her head checked.

Anna // Posted 9 February 2009 at 8:54 pm

Emma: you’re not alone on the skirt issue. Our school got around the legal decision of allowing trousers for girls (was an all-girls) by making the trousers you had to wear ridiculously expensive (I think something like £150), out of material that gave you hives to wear them and a really uncomfortable fit. About three girls wore them for three days then gave up. The school won!

Ach. I was going to be a uni lecturer but this thread – you in particular, Emma – has made me seriously think I might be better directing my feminist energies into teaching..

mary // Posted 9 February 2009 at 9:57 pm

@ JENNIFER DREW:

Let’s imagine the teacher made a racist comment to a black boy because his hair style was not in accordance with the school rules. Would such a racist comment be excused/justified? Would the boy be blamed for causing the teacher to make the racist comment? I think not

Do you have any basis at all for that assertion? Or is it just that you think that’s probably true, never having been a black teenage boy? Comparing oppressions is so not cool.

My memory of being a fairly well-balanced fourteen-year-old who wore very short skirts is that all I cares about is what my peers thought. Yes, I wanted the fourteen-year-old boys to notice that I had a short skirt on, but the idea of anyone over the age of eighteen noticing was just gross and wrong, and I couldn’t believe that any adult who mentioned it could be so crass. I still think that’s pretty close to the idyllic fourteen-year-old experience, never having to become aware of the fact that anyone over the age of eighteen can see you as remotely sexual. Shame on that teacher for destroying the illusion.

Mel // Posted 10 February 2009 at 12:00 am

While I normally agree with f-word articles, and join in the ranting (internally, at least) this particular post just makes me aware of the power of the media to distort. I work at the school in question and when I first read the story thought the same thing – however, the story is not factual. The male teacher quoted is not the headmaster either. I would like to go into detail but from a professional POV I can’t.

Jess McCabe // Posted 10 February 2009 at 12:11 am

Good point about headteacher versus headmaster/headmistress Alex – always got to work to rid ourselves of sexist language.

The Daily Mail calls her a teacher, but who knows how accurate they are. But I don’t think all teachers are tarred with the same brush; teachers are humans in society, and surely it’s not unexpected that things like this happen from time to time, just horrifically disappointing. Other people in the thread have talked about similar incidents, albiet probably a few years ago.

Ruth Moss // Posted 10 February 2009 at 10:03 am

@Jennifer Drew

I do appreciate what you’re trying to say, but you might want to go and check out this post.

http://www.womanist-musings.com/2008/12/imagine-if-you-said-that-about-blacks.html

Kez // Posted 10 February 2009 at 10:32 am

Jennifer Drew – actually, I strongly suspect that had the teacher/careers advisor/whatever she is made a racist comment along the lines you suggest, she would have found just as many defenders among the readers of the Daily Mail.

I’m not sure all this comparison of racism and sexism is helpful or productive.

Jess McCabe // Posted 10 February 2009 at 10:36 am

Quite, Kez, you only need to see how the Daily Mail has rushed to the defence of Carol Thatcher to see that.

venky // Posted 10 February 2009 at 4:10 pm

check out this:

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/laplaza/2008/08/miniskirts-and.html

Mexican university bans miniskirts, says sexy coeds ‘provoke’ rape

Miniskirt_2A Mexican university has banned miniskirts and other “provocative clothing” in an effort to stop “provoking” violent attacks against women.

Héctor Melesio Cuen Ojeda, rector of the Autonomous University of Sinaloa, said that minskirts worn by many of the pupils are an invitation for attacks both inside and outside the university, according to El Universal.

He advised the women among the university’s 46,000 pupils to lower their skirts to knee-level.

The Mexican Catholic church has asked women not to wear “provocative clothing” or to get into “spicy” conversations or jokes with men, in order to avoid sexual assault.

Shea // Posted 10 February 2009 at 5:18 pm

I wonder if the comments are also owing to fact that this girl Aisher appears to be of Asian origin, at the very least she isn’t caucasian. I suspect there was a bit of casual racism thrown into the mix.

It always pisses me off that apologies are made to the parents, like the child is just an appendage or something. She was the one insulted, apologise to her, cowardly spiteful woman!

Eleanor T // Posted 11 February 2009 at 1:32 am

I was once removed from classes for a couple of weeks in Year 8 for wearing trousers instead of a skirt. The problem wasn’t the fact they were trousers, it was that they weren’t the only pair of trousers girls were permitted to wear. Never mind the fact skirts and boys’ trousers could come from anywhere and cost anything…

Bleugh.

The good news is that I won that battle. I insisted on wearing the trousers (I was the only girl who wore them for non-religious reasons) but because they were sensible (and my parents supported me the whole way, even to the point of arguing face-to-face with the head) I was finally and begrudgingly allowed to wear them. So I did, for a few weeks, and then I stopped. All I wanted was the choice to wear skirts or trousers, so as soon as I wanted to wear skirts again, I did.

This memory always brings a smile to my face.

aishers mother // Posted 11 February 2009 at 9:37 pm

Firstly can i say thankyou, as these seem the only positive comments made. I wanted to get the story of bullying out their, nothing to do about a skirt.Firstly, let me get this straight i do NOT allow my daughter to leave the house like that- That picture was solely taken to accentuate the 2nd bullying comment in regards to the birthmark, “apparent celluilte”. – well i wasnt going to allow her to be photographed stacking chairs was i? The whole purpose, no matter what, was to highlight bullying. Bullying by a teacher to a child, but as britain, it has just proved what parents you are, would rather judge than listen! Dress her in cotton wool, why not? A child is innocent, the world outside is not. There are measures in school to make parents aware of innapropriate dress codes- i was not made aware, then or previously! But to approach my daughter was in a manner that is of complete disgust. Ms Green had NOT told Aisher to pull her skirt down previously, but pursued the comments directly in earshot of other pupils. What kind of parent would you be if you brushed it under the carpet? Children are impressionable and this should NEVER have happened to ANY child. Well done britain (well THE MAIL)- they have just proved you are on the right path, to allow those comments to be made to their children when they are out of your juristiction. What great great parents THEY are!

Sabre // Posted 12 February 2009 at 4:09 pm

Hi Aisher’s mother!

You are totally right to pursue this, it is bullying. It’s not about how short her skirt is or whether it was cellulite or a birthmark. It’s about the fact that she was ‘shamed’ this way about it, by a figure of authority who should know better.

A boy would never be shamed for his clothing in this manner, even if he wore his trousers around his ankles! Kids aren’t trying to be sluts in the sense that adults understand the word.

Best wishes to your daughter. I hope this situation doesn’t get her down too much and she’s able to get on with her studies.

Princess Rot // Posted 12 February 2009 at 6:26 pm

Those disgusting Daily Fail commentators summed up: “A woman/girl who dares to overstep what we find acceptable in regard to feminine attire deserves to be forcibly penetrated by a strange man to put her in her place, the filthy fucking succubus.”

God, I hate people.

aishers mother // Posted 13 February 2009 at 6:10 pm

EXACTLY- people missed the morale of the story- language and bullying used against a child- but those sick people -Daily Mail comments-(god i feels sorry for their kids) thought it was acceptable? How is that? Why? I can only believe that should she have been white in pigtails, then our morale society may have taken a different view- I think it was just another excuse for people to vent their anger- Oh and for the men to get some sick perversion of slagging a child off , when they are the most likely ones crawling the streets late at night for their own pleasure. Im angry at the mail (and NO i didnt get ANY money or was i doing it for money) JUST to make bullying by an elder to a monor exposed- But the mail never let or showed me the picture to approve it- that picture, which she had to hitch to see her birthmark – went public and made me look like i sent her out like that. What happened to all the other pictures when she was properly attired in them? No matter what, even as a parent,as long as i send her out the door appropriately, then is aisher was to put her skirt at that length, she should never be deserved to be spoken to like that. I dont use that language to my children, why should i allow any others- Thats just like saying- Oh the victim deserved to be raped as she deserved it – Sick. Looking and telling someone they are a slut are 2 different things- This teacher didnt tell her politely, i have asked the other pupils parents to talk to the pupils, who put me right and told me she said it outright. What parent would i have been if i had allowed my daughter to be spoken to like that. Ignored it?? What so she may one day turn to drink or commit suicide– I dont think so- Children take things to heart- Maybe i shouldnt have gone to the press to expose this women but i thought i was doing it, for all those kids that cant talk to their parents (and there are alot – im so glad my daughter could tell me)when they are experiening the same thing. I am SO ashamed to be british right now. All those vile comments from those poeple just prove that they think that language is appropriate for their kids/ household – i mean why is their kid any different from Aisher??? Im so glad i have a lovely home life with my children and show them the right path in life- not that VILE abusive language

terese // Posted 1 March 2009 at 12:01 am

Jennifer Drew said:

“Let’s imagine the teacher made a racist comment to a black boy…”

Ruth Moss said:

“I do appreciate what you’re trying to say, but you might want to go and check out this post.

http://www.womanist-musings.com/2008/12/imagine-if-you-said-that-about-blacks.html

As the “oppression olympics” line of argument seems to get invoked on a regular basis in the comments section here (and the challenges seemingly not beeing taken on board) maybe it would be a good idea for one of the bloggers to raise this in a separate post, with links to Renee’s post etc?

Ellie // Posted 1 March 2009 at 3:19 pm

After reading the article and comments, I decided to try and find out more – whether trousers or skirts are more popular, etc – so I did a quick google search for “school uniform statistics +skirt OR trousers OR girls -attendance -discipline” and I just had to share the results: the very first result was “school uniform porn” – which actually seems quite obvious in hindsight.

Other findings of interest: the Equal Opportunities Commission’s FAQs on School Uniform. Too many problematic statements to quote here! (Link:

http://83.137.212.42/sitearchive/eoc/Defaulte3f9.html?page=15368)

manda // Posted 5 March 2009 at 2:45 am

Imagine my horror when my child came back from school and told me a “careers advisor” told her “she looked like a slut “ and “that her skirt didn’t do much for her cellulite? “

Imagine your child coming home and telling you that? A Parent wouldn’t have believed such foul language and comments would have come from a person who is in authority of these children! My partner and I were in disbelief.

I was angry and disgusted. I called the school and made an appointment to meet with this advisor. Folder in hand, with the schools bullying policy, I wanted answers. I wanted to know exactly what happened. I wanted to ask her why? What is the meaning behind the derogative word was, to explain it? And why she felt she could say that to an impressionable young child? After the vile language, that i would never use to my child, I wanted to ask her what gave her the right to speak to my child, or any child, like that and then proceeded to bully her further by ridiculing her and proceeding to make remarks about my daughter’s birthmark! To say to child “that it doesn’t do much for your cellulite” is worse than bullying from a pupil. Pupils were in earshot and were disgusted, with one pupil in particular addressing the careers advisor to say what she said were wrong!

I received a text from my daughter at 13:57 on 15 / 12/2008. It said “a teacher made me cry today”. I was a bit concerned as i thought; i hope my daughter hasn’t been disruptive, as I have always brought her up to respect her teachers. Manners and respect cost nothing and they are the values I relay to my children. With Aisher being the eldest, she has always been polite, had manners and I have been lucky that she has been a child I can trust, respects me and her elders and that I am proud of. Her grades are excellent and, when I received that txt, I was concerned. I was desperate to find out what had upset her. When she returned from school, I approached her and she retreated to her room in tears. It took me persuasion and lots of cuddles to extort what had upset her so bad. When she told me, I was in disbelief. I trust her, but admittingly, I was so shocked that, although I believed her, i had to ask if anyone else had witnessed it. She told me, straight after she ran to the toilets where another teacher helped her dry her tears as she explained what was said.

I have her friends parents home numbers on my phone, so i proceeded to call the parents, explained the situation that happened today and asked if i could talk with the children who had witnessed it. There were 3 children who told me the same story, what aisher had said & confirming what was said! All gave the same evidence to support aisher. The other child who said they didn’t hear the exact words, But had been in the room and knew from the careers teachers manner, was not the manner that should of been in her attitude to aisher, but expressed her manner was not right of a teacher. Children heard the comments and made statements to the schools acting deputy master. One in particular who approached the careers’ advisor and said that was disgusting. That poor child, who stuck up to the careers advisor has now received, what they said is “dirty looks” from the careers advisor, being Ms Virginia Green.

I attended the school, after i rang then to arrange a time to come to the school to discuss this with Ms Green present, and Aisher, as so I could put to Ms Green, why those comments were made. I wanted to know, did she know what they meant, why she said them and why would someone in her position feel that it was right to talk to any pupil like that.

She never turned up for the meeting! It was confirmed from Mt Foster, acting, that she admitted the accusations’ and would be apologising.

3- 4 weeks later, I received an apology letter from Ms green, stating the first words “ I apologise for my use of foul language & I apologise for them! I am a mother myself”, with that, I wanted to tear the letter up and throw it away. As a mother, you would NOT speak to a child like that. The letter was addressed to me, not to aisher or the pupils that witnessed her actions.. A mother would NEVER speak to a child like that. If I had a problem with my daughters skirt / dress, I would tell her that the length was inappropriate regarding school rules. She wore the skirt as was sold. If there was a problem with the length, I would be expected to be told by the school, it was innnapropriate! The school have strict rules on dress code and before my daughter leaves the house, she is properly attired. I have NEVER received ANY complaint to my daughter’s dress code. She properly attired with, skirt ( M & S school wear skirt), blazer, shirt & tie and because the weather was cold, wore tan/ sometimes black tights) . On the occasion mentioned, she was stacking chairs, (in tan tights) – It was NOT for any teacher to watch/ point out. Adhere to or even comment that a Childs skirt may rise due to her bending to pick up chairs!” Ms Green had made it a point to focus on aisher school stacking duty whilst eating her lunch, I’m sure her lunch would have been more interesting thank the vile comments she devised in her own head. Yes, maybe my daughter should have bent at the knees to stack chairs, but who , themselves, would just stack the chairs accordingly without worry that some perverted reason someone was watching them, talking about them & decided to aim their own insecurities on a child and make comments that were unjustified to cause a child such impact on their own self.

I wrote my letter to the chair of governors and they said the matter was dealt with! By whom? I proceeded to ask Councillor David Kirk`s advice, for children’s services for advice. I also wrote to Kiscapape, also, who deal with bullying, although this was the first case where it involved a teacher against a pupil.. The chair of governors refused to reply to my letter where green “apparently said” “you need to pull your skirt down because …..” i asked for the….. Phrase to be re-apprehended to me in an accordingly manner for me to fill in their gaps of the ……………..”, telling them i knew what was said, and what was admitted by Ms Green , yet they did not reply and sad, that was the end of the matter! They refused to take Councillor Kirks calls!

The matter was not dealt with appropriately! I asked for a reply letter, I asked for MS Green to apologise in person. I should have asked that she apologised in front of the pupils who witnessed it, for her to explain it should never have happened and that her actions were appalling and would never happen again. I received no reply.

I explained that if they did not deal appropriately in this manner, that I would have no other choice to make this public, locally and nationally. Bullying is a very serious matter. Children sometimes have no one to talk to. Imagine that your child was bullied by a pupil, but a person of authority has so much more impact”!

If I did nothing as a parent, and swept it under the carpet as the school have done, what sort of parent would I be? I explained to my daughter, this exposure was for others that may have gone through the same thing! Imagine the children who have no one to turn to, think no one cares, then decide to then spend their life from impact of a teacher, suppressing their hurt through drink or drugs! Can you imagine that child who has that said to them from someone in authority, going to their room and committing suicide! This person ( Ms Green ) was never ever suspended pending further investigation. Imagine your child having to see this person daily at school, knowing that nothing was ever done? Because i know for a fact, words like that have impacting effects, but it’s okay. This teacher can carry on her job daily, working with impressionable children. You never know, maybe it may be your child next and what would you do?

It is NOT right! Yes society uses that language, but to allow that language to be used in your household is no way of bringing up your children. Would you call your child a “slut” and then proceed “ it does nothing for your birthmark” NO you wouldn’t because, although the world has changed, we still need to hold on to morals.

Yes, my daughters skirt was short in the picture to “accentuate” what Ms Green would have seen with her bending down. If her skirt was that short, when she left my jurisdiction at school, yes i would be annoyed/ concerned and then i would have expected a letter from the school stating, “your Childs skirt is too short”. My daughter rolled her skirt, with my consent, as I was with her as a concerned parent, (many of you must have done this at some point) when leaving your parents house BUT, she NEVER left the house with a rolled up skirt band) I would like to know what happened to the original pictures – Murray sanders- Janet (daily mail) where her skirt was at its original length, even pictures with me have gone to.

The daily mail gave a blog to say what they thought, and to be truthful, forgetting the length of the skirt to see her birthmark, the majority (say 98%) thought it was acceptable for the teacher to say what she said! Is this how we are living. Is this how we bring our kids up? Is this really acceptable? So your child comes home, say what the teacher had said and its ok and acceptable? Well, don’t join an anti bullying, because when your child comes home and suffers bullying, then it will be okay, because maybe she deserved it!!

Sabre // Posted 6 March 2009 at 2:10 pm

Manda, I have very little faith the Daily Mail and its readers, who are probably the most narrow minded, xenophobic, woman-hating people in the country. Still it shocks me to hear that 98% of them thought this behaviour was acceptable.

It would be a good thing if the school provided some kind of gender equality training to teachers and pupils, and yes your daughter does deserve a direct apology.

Sadly this will probably not be the only time Aisher faces some kind of sexism in her life. Being realistic about the world, she should develop an ability to cope with stuff like this in future, it will perhaps be more valuable to her in the long-term than an apology.

Alessandro // Posted 6 December 2009 at 8:51 pm

If the girl’s thighs had actually no cellulite on them the teacher had no right to make that comment.

Jess McCabe // Posted 7 December 2009 at 10:33 am

@Alessandro I think that’s missing the point!

Jackie Bather // Posted 7 December 2009 at 11:26 am

It may be worth considering home-education:I did. Then one does not have to contend with the (allegedly) low teaching standards operating in schools today, nor this type of truly crass incident.

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