THE EDITOR: I refer to the recent publication of the issue of male students inappropriately touching female teachers which was raised at a joint select committee meeting at Parliament on January 30. While TTUTA has indicated that, according to their records, such incidents were infrequent, executive members of the National Parent Teachers’ Association (NPTA) shook their heads in disapproval and did not hesitate to point their fingers at female teachers, blaming them for dressing “too provocatively.”
I hope that the NPTA followed due diligence in investigating these incidents to understand the contexts in which they occurred. Did they know the background of the male students involved? Or, were they aware of the attire that the female teachers wore when the incidents occurred? Nevertheless, the NPTA has missed the mark, becoming preoccupied with the clothes that Miss wore, and so misunderstood the bigger picture.
The bigger picture is that, for some males, poor socialisation at home has molded them to be disrespectful to women. Combine that with a deficit of positive male role models and a pornographic culture that objectifies women and we have the perfect gender storm. One where women’s rights and safety are disregarded, and where we hear both male and female voices finding ways to excuse the perpetrator and/or blame the victim. “Boys will be boys! She looked for that! She was dressed too provocatively!”
When we do not hold males accountable for inappropriate behaviour against females, we open the door for the perpetuation of a rape culture – an environment where rape is prevalent and where sexual violence is normalised and excused.
We must look carefully at the ways our males are socialised and assess the messages being sent to them via the media and popular culture. We have the perfect opportunity now for all stakeholders (civil society, Government, and corporate) to collaborate on a sustainable initiative that will support the development of males within our society. If we do not, we will continue to experience the alarming rise of gender-based violence in sweet TT.
Kevin Liverpool, The Fatherhood, Resource Centre