Toxic patriarchy is something that has plagued our nation for centuries. Whether it’s at home, at work or even within your friend circle, it is very much prevalent. Schools are a breeding ground of toxic patriarchy as well. Fortunately, times are changing and sexism has reduced in schools, but most of us still remember facing it, and it was never a pleasant experience. We recently had a conversation on Malini’s Girl Tribe and women shared the toxic patriarchy they faced in school, and they are extremely relatable.
Ever wondered why girls always had to wear skirts and dresses as a uniform? They always gave us issues when we had to sit on the floor, do physical activities and play games. Furthermore, teachers always commented on the length of the skirt, even if it was 0.1 millimetres above the knee. Girls with short skirts would get stereotyped for having loose morals and being attention seeking. But no one ever said anything if a boy’s pants were too short or tight. Imagine how much better girls would feel wearing shorts or pants! No discomfort and no judgement.
People (especially teachers) were all too quick to judge girls based on how they looked, how they wore their uniform and who they spent their time with. In a co-ed school, if a girl had many male friends, teachers were quick to assume she was seeking male attention and label her as a sl*t. However, if a guy was always surrounded by girls, everyone thought he was popular and cool. Great double standards and toxic patriarchy, right?
Physical Education taught us more about toxic patriarchy than it did sports. Boys were made to play sports like football and basketball, while most girls had to stick to badminton, carrom or volleyball. In many schools, girls were not allowed to play “boys’ sports”. The dress-code was a barrier to this too, as skirts and dresses were not ideal for running around. It was as if girls were being taught that sports were a male domain only.
While this is oriented towards toxic masculinity, it is relevant to toxic patriarchy. In school, teachers preferred guys who looked and behaved predominantly male – tall, muscular, sporty and outgoing. Boys who didn’t fit this image were referred to as pansies, feminine and cowards, not only by fellow students but also by teachers. It ingrained in us that boys who don’t look like society’s standards of men are not men, which is just plain horrible, and probably caused a lifetime of trauma for those boys.
If you felt like your teachers were partial towards guys, you aren’t alone. If a boy came late to class because his sports training or even oversleeping, he was allowed in easily. Some teachers would even throw in a praise or two about his multitasking abilities. However, if a girl came late due to sports practice or terrible period cramps, she was asked to get her priorities right and reprimanded. Boys were always given partial treatment by teachers and students alike. How was that fair?
Toxic patriarchy may not have been taught in school, but we all learnt it. Some schools today are a much more feminist and accepting place, but there are many that are not. We hope this changes soon, because it is a disease that needs to be eradicated… urgently.
Did you ever face toxic patriarchy in school? Share it with us in the comments below!