I remember picking up my 5year old grandson from School and was shocked by what I saw. The thing is that respect needs to start very early, and he and his mates were not respecting the girls in their class. What shocked me even more was that the teachers did not stop the problem.
The boys were flicking elastic bands at the girls, who were running away.
When I got my grandson in the car, I had a serious discussion with him. Apparently, it was a game they all played, pull the elastic out of the girls’ hair while they are sitting down, the flick them later.
I asked him to stop and think about how much to girls enjoyed having their hair pulled, then being flicked at. I also asked him to think about how the girls felt when they were telling their mother they had lost yet another hair elastic. I told him very firmly that this was bullying. It must never happen again, and he must tell his friends to stop as well.
I remember when I was in primary school, I wore my hair in 2 plaits and the boys sitting behind me in class used to try to dip them into the inkwell on their desk. I had to have my plaits pulled forward to prevent this.
It was just a joke! Can’t you take a joke? NO! It was not a joke; it is never a joke, but boys do this to girls all the time. My brothers still try their hackneyed old jokes on me and are surprised when I tell then, yet again, No, it is not a joke, it is bullying. And the men just don’t get it.
Respect needs to start very early.
And respect needs to be taught at home, doing what their mothers ask, when they are asked, is also a fundamental part of learning to respect women.
We all need to remember that every one of us matters. Every single person needs to be respected. Then people will not invade each other’s spaces, either physically or emotionally, without invitation.
And it’s not just about respecting women, its about respecting anyone who is not you. Age discrimination is very alive and well… although I don’t think “well” is the right term.
I work with many people who suffer for years with the trauma caused by not being respected. I doubt if the perpetrators have any idea of the harm they have caused. And the perpetrators are certainly not all men!
If you or someone you know needs help to sort out the harm caused by lack of respect, please come and see me. I very probably can help.