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Barbara Spears does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. In an online petition launched by Chanel Contos in February, thousands of women have now disclosed instances of sexual harrassment and assault when at school parties.
But the petition was quickly swamped with personal testimonies, feeding into the broader national discussion about sexism and misogyny that had emerged after former government staffer Brittany Higgins alleged she had been sexually assaulted by another staff member at parliament house. In an opinion piece in The Guardian , Contos wrote that everyone contributes to rape culture, including herself.
She said:. Of course I called girls sluts […] of course I called people frigid and of course I made my friends feel insecure about their level of sexual activity. Of course I did, because everyone I knew did. Sexual bullying is not something we can ignore. It is an aggressive behaviour and overlaps with sexual harassment, which we often hear of as being perpetrated by men against women. But as Contos pointed out, women and girls may also perpetuate unhealthy sexual attitudes. This may especially be the case among teenage girls, who are just discovering their sexual identity and place within peer groups.
Bullying happens when a person abuses their power in a relationship to aggressively and repeatedly hurt another person. Sexualised bullying is not recognised officially in Australia. Sexual bullying is also pressure to act promiscuously and to act in a way that makes others uncomfortable.
This includes using homophobic language and insults. Sending the image to others without consent. In Australia, the above behaviours reflect our understanding of sexual harassment. We usually understand most of the above as harassment in the context of a workplace, and most often as males directing it toward females. : 'He had hundreds of pictures of me': tales of sexism from female teachers in elite boys' schools. But the gender of the perpetrator and target is not so relevant if the behaviour is weaponised and the impact is deliberately destructive.
In this way, sexual harassment may shift to become ongoing sexual bullying. And while we most often hear about this being perpetrated by boys, it happens among girls too. In , an Australian study aimed to provide the first estimates of the prevalence of sexual harassment among teenagers. It involved more than 4, teenagers aged The authors wrote sexual harassment was a pervasive problem in Australian high schools. They suggested teenagers seemed to use sexual harassment to enforce their learned cultures of masculinity and femininity, to police heterosexuality conformity and to establish power in peer groups.
An Australian study in collected data on the bullying behaviours of nearly 1, girls aged They wanted to see whether girls could sexually harass each other and if they did so as a form of bullying. The survey also invited girls to anonymously record the name-calling they used when bullying each other and the types of rumours they would spread. : Nearly a third of early adulthood depression linked to bullying in teenage years.
The authors suggested girls denigrated other girls to elevate their own status in the group. They did so by making other girls look bad, as either promiscuous slut shaming , frigid, or through saying they were gay. But they also noted girls were increasingly harassing girls and boys in a sexual manner. Sexually derogatory behaviours among girls are not always deemed as sexual harassment in the school context.
Nor are they explicitly recognised as contributing to the larger cultures of misogyny and sexism. But if we do not tolerate such behaviours from boys towards girls, we should not be ignoring it if girls use the same sexual put downs. : Let's make it mandatory to teach respectful relationships in every Australian school. If schools are mandated to have policies in place to protect young people from bullying, then the role sexualised forms of aggression play in the peer dynamic must be highlighted and explicitly addressed.
Sexual bullying is serious. It forms part of the continuum of aggression, power and violence. Schools need to acknowledge sexual bullying exists within and across gender and that it hits at the time when young people are their most vulnerable: as they are developing their sexual identity and orientation.
Edition: Available editions United Kingdom. Barbara Spears , University of South Australia. She said: Of course I called girls sluts […] of course I called people frigid and of course I made my friends feel insecure about their level of sexual activity. What is sexual bullying? Examples include abusive, sexualised name calling and insults such as calling someone a slut, or frigid spreading rumours of a sexual nature online or in person. Sending the image to others without consent inappropriate sexual innuendo that is persistent and unwelcome its most extreme form, sexual assault or rape.
: 'He had hundreds of pictures of me': tales of sexism from female teachers in elite boys' schools But the gender of the perpetrator and target is not so relevant if the behaviour is weaponised and the impact is deliberately destructive.
What we know about it Most studies on sexual bullying among young people have explored sexual harassment. In the digital age, sexual bullying can happen via text or social media. Shutterstock An Australian study in collected data on the bullying behaviours of nearly 1, girls aged Sexual bullying is serious Sexually derogatory behaviours among girls are not always deemed as sexual harassment in the school context. : Let's make it mandatory to teach respectful relationships in every Australian school If schools are mandated to have policies in place to protect young people from bullying, then the role sexualised forms of aggression play in the peer dynamic must be highlighted and explicitly addressed.Sluts girls
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When Girls Use the Word 'Slut' to Bully Each Other