Personal Narrative: How Schools Are Our Teachers of Misogyny

The incident stayed with me throughout high school and then in college, I came to confront the surreal-ness of it and notice the actual rooted problem in it

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Sexist teachers: I remember back in middle school, I experienced my first official encounter with misogyny when teachers from the primary section had called girls from my grade, to “have a talk”. We formed a queue and headed on our way to the primary section. We were told to sit down, then one of the teachers gave us this look of concern and then started addressing the “problem”.

She said that we as girls were supposed to be prim and proper, and then talked about our hairstyles and how making two braids was essential, with the most disastrous reasoning behind it. She claimed the reason we need to make two braids, was not one that concerned discipline or neatness, but she said, “ you know, who makes braids and ponytails combed to the side of their head ?” she then took a pause and finally said “hookers”. The middle school me was not disgusted by her logic, but neither I did accept it as the truth of eternity.

The incident stayed with me throughout high school and then in college, I came to confront the surreal-ness of it and notice the actual rooted problem in it. The witty part of me laughed, and thought to myself, ‘of course, hookers braid their hair some way or the other, they have to ultimately pick a hairstyle right?'

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They can’t just boycott a particular hairstyle because somewhere in the universe a teacher was allegedly giving some students “the talk”, based on her personal prejudices, her generalisation that ‘all hookers must braid their hair that way’ and her internalised misogyny, that made her think of hookers in a demeanng manner and to teach the students the same. The logical part of me that had probably delayed to kindle back then now lit up like a bulb. I started recalling all those incidents of being “disciplined” because my skirt was not below my knees or that I was carrying coloured lip balm to school. 

I can not help but contemplate to myself, how many girls who were with me actually did consume the words that came out of the teacher’s mouth? And, a part of them carried those words as ‘morals’.

How many of them gave up styling their hair a certain way and told their little sisters not to do the same? I wonder how many of them that day sowed a seed of misogyny in their conscience? Or how many of them remembered to water their old plant of misogyny? It is a pity because even before we could think of feminism or get introduced to it, our minds had already been rooted in misogyny and personal stereotypes of such sort.

The sad part is I am not the only unlucky student, to not have teachers that were above it all, and could look beyond this, there are still young girls out there being told, how their skirt length is their character builder and how their face is a canvas best left empty with no makeup.

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