Hello GFPs, this week I’ve been feeling, for want of a better word, triggered by the Everyone’s Invited
story. Quietly waiting for the name of my old school to come up. The school where girls bodies were discussed in class and up for grabs, literally. On a daily basis. Then I opened The Times app and read this column
by a mother of a boy at Dulwich College, one of the schools at the centre of the scandal. The allegations, she writes “risks damaging an entire generation of innocent boys.”
And I couldn’t not say anything any longer. Because what about the entire generations PLURAL of innocent girls who have been being damaged for decades? I know I and my fellow female classmates have been scarred by that for life.
I texted an old friend the other day to talk about it because I was so upset and the stories we shared, which we had never spoken about, have scarred us.
I went back to that school to give a talk about fifteen years after I left. It was the same. The same toxic atmosphere from the boys. The girls kept apologising for them, were clearly intimidated by them. I felt so sad for these girls. What about their scars?
As for “the nice boys getting tarred by this,” yes, not all boys. But how many of the “nice” boys sniggered along as it happened? How many of the nice boys have had the niceness bullied out of them, moulded by the diktats of toxic masculinity into joining the pack? Why doesn’t this mother want to address the toxic lad culture that exposed one boy I know at my old school to sexual abuse as part of a relentless campaign of bullying that ended in a suicide attempt. Several attempts, in fact.
If you are the mother of a nice boy, your son is at risk too – of becoming either predator or prey. You should be on the side of the girls.
GFPs, unusually, I have some homework for you.
First, watch Promising Young Woman, which brilliantly explores the dilemma of what we do about nice boys who snigger along to rape. It’s thought-provoking as well as being a cracking film.
And read The Double X Economy
by Linda Scott (
which I reviewed a while back for The Observer
). She doesn’t talk about schools, but she does very shrewdly explore the dynamic where all you need is a few bastards at the top to set the culture and turn the other men into not-quite-as-bad bastards if only to avoid getting picked on themselves.
So there is something in it for men to stand up to the bastards too. But they have to choose to support women over solidarity with their own sex first. The question is: will they?