Prudish and prurient: teachers (and their professional body) teach rapists its not their fault

Sex obsessed and prurient. Who that? Why, teachers and their professional body, the General Teaching Council of England (GTCE), of course.

My attention was drawn, today, to not one, but two pieces in the Daily Mail of all places, underlining just this point. First up is a teacher – former music department head Debbie Lloyd-Jones – who faces being struck off for, inter alia, sharing a shower with teenage girls.

Come again? She, a woman, took her kit off in front of a bunch of girls, also women? Right.

Oh. I get it. We’re operating under the extreme Christian view of conduct here, under which humans are but one step up from animals and the sight of an unclothed body is guaranteed to inspire lust and a manic desire to wrestle the naked person to the ground and start interfering with their private bits.

Perhaps my view is coloured, in part, that I grew up in a private school environment in which personal nakedness happened from time to time. I remember one sadist of a PE teacher who took us on a x-country run during winter…and then terminated it by ordering us to strip off and roll in the snow. Apparently, this is meant to be healthy. The Swedes do it all the time.

Still. Any teachers. Any professional body – such as the GTCE – that finds nakedness in and of itself to be unprofessional conduct should, perhaps, examine their own consciences. Because personally, it is they who strike me as dangerous and deranged. There are many far healthier countries in the world where nudity is not seen as automatic precursor to naughtiness.

Announcing the scrapping of the GTCE earlier this year, Education Minister Michael Gove said that it “does little to raise teaching standards or professionalism”.

On the evidence of this case, it does far worse than that, actively intimidating young people out of perfectly healthy impulses, and setting students up for a lifetime of sexual neurosis.

In fairness, the Mail does report other allegations of concern. These include this teacher telling pupils she loved them, giving them gifts and telling them not to tell their parents. This only underlines the daftness of the GTCE’s focus. These are all serious issues and ones that should be aired and investigated. Given that, there is no need at all to attack nudity. Unless, of course, you yourself have a rigid puritan belief in the evils of the naked body.

Next up, the second story, also from the Mail, seems to follow closely in the footsteps of the above. Pupils at Bradley Stoke Community School in Bristol have been banned from wearing Miss Sexy branded garments.

Miss Sexy Trousers

These are unacceptable because of the way they ‘cling’ to girl students – making them ‘unhelpful’ to learning.

What a wonderful turn of phrase. Does the Headteacher mean that they cling so tightly that they, ahem, rub the girls up the wrong way, leaving them in a perpetual state of arousal – and therefore incapable of concentrating on their school work?

Or is this about boys allegedly letching at the girls, and themselves being so distracted by their own erections that they can’t concentrate?

Either way, we are once again back in the realms of the “beast”. Allow people one single whiff of sex – and all conscious thought departs thru the window.

I don’t believe it. Worse, it sets up a lifetime of excuses for abusers. Because of course, if we teach school kids, who later become adults, that where sex is concerned, how someone dresses may be “unhelpful” because it sexualises…and sexualisation leads to consequences because, well, it just does…we are also teaching that people, at some remove, are not responsible for their actions on the sexual front – and that if someone gets groped or raped, it is always, at some level, in some part their fault.



About janefae

On my way from here to there
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7 Responses to Prudish and prurient: teachers (and their professional body) teach rapists its not their fault

  1. Julian says:

    Welcome to Rape Culture. Enjoy your stay. 😦

  2. W says:

    What utter drivel.

    It is not nudity that is an issue but inappropriate nudity. Just as any professional should not go beyond certain boundaries nudity from a teacher is inappropriate. I never expected my teacher to talk of their relationships, children, political views etc… It is no different (and of course you rather ignore the crux of the argument, there was other allegations of concern).
    The second story is about school children. The sexualisation of young children is an issue, attempt to combat this cannot be crudely labelled with such a ridiculous title as you suggest. There is also the point that in schools there are uniforms. Does anyone seriously think uniforms are a grave attack on civil liberties and an attempt to repress us? No, of course not. Don’t over analyse the issue.

    You could perhaps consider writing for the Daily Fail given the similarities between both this post and the rubbish spouted in that rag.
    Gross emotional over reaction.
    This article seems to have the general formula of:
    Winge about a repressive society then admit there is actually a good point somewhere only to then lose sight of that and jump back to the emotional response about repression.

    • janefae says:

      Oh dear. We aren’t going to agree…though I do have some concerns about the circularity of your argument. Nudity is inappropriate. Really? Where? Why?

      Its only “inappropriate” if it is constructed as such by the rest of society and, across the ages, views on nudity have fluctuated back and forth according to fashion and moral climate. But to claim, simply that “nudity from a teacher is inappropriate” rather misses the point.

      No. Telling everyone that nudity from a teacher is inappropriate ends up by defining what appropriateness is: but it can’t be “inappropriate” of itself. In fact: head back 40…50 years or so, and you’ll find a great deal more nudity by pupils and teachers around schools up and down the country. Look up “Parson’s Pleasure” in Oxford. Just acquaint yourself with your own history.

      Basically, nudity is neutral: society teaches value; and if it teaches that it is inappropriate, it becomes so.

      And no: I don’t overlook the other issues either. I am well aware that this teacher is down for other allegations. But that is the point. Those other allegations are of genuine concern. Therefore placing nudity on a par with those allegations sends a message.

      A bit like saying: so-and-so is accused of molestation; they also talked to children. Therefore talking to children is bad/inappropriate. Total nonsense.


      btw… i am intrigued by the fact that you remain as anonymous as you do. Almost no-one who posts on here hides in quite the way you do: how come? It is your right…but in general, i tend to associate anonymity wth sneakiness, ill-will and view it as mostly inappropriate.

    • janefae says:

      As for the trousers…again, who is doing the sexualisation here? You with you outwardly moral agenda? The teachers, who are alleged to have said the trousers are ‘too sexy’ for the classroom and “unacceptable because of the way they ‘cling’ to girl students – making them ‘unhelpful’ to learning”.

      Or the rather more grounded female student who said: “I wear Miss Sexy trousers because they make me feel good about my shape and size and are cheaper than tailored trousers.”

      Think about it: the school COULD have banned them simply because they breached uniform rules. But no. The school chose to ban them because they looked sexy. To whom? Presumably boys.

      And this was unhelpful. How? Well, because instead of telling boys to keep their dicks under control and to attend to lessons, it was for girls to modify their behaviour and conform in order not to lead on the boys?

      So what’s next on the syllabus? All about how when a girl gets into trouble, she was probably asking for it because of the clothes she wore?


  3. W says:

    I apologise if you misconstrued my anonymity as having a sinister undertone, that is not the case. I intended to post the link to your post on a site I frequent where I type many intimate experiences and posting my name would have breached that anonymity. As I am currently in the process of becoming a teacher (hence why I was dealing with this post) and because I have a small ‘internet footprint’ this post wouldn’t be in my best interests to be associated with.

    As for the nudity. Moral relativism is such a simplistic doctrine and inherently contradictory, appealing to historical examples doesn’t address the here and now that people do feel. You may not agree but as a teacher you do have certain professional standards to uphold (uphold, not create), if it would upset the students under your care to be naked, if it would upset them to make fat jokes etc then you have a responsibility not to do it. It is nothing to do with ‘extreme Christian views’ but instead being a professional. It takes some quite astounding levels of ignorance to miss that getting your kit off might generally not be taken well by the children or wider community, if you are aware that this is the case then the motives of the teacher must be questioned. Stupidity or sinister motives, both are not wanted in a classroom from the educator. There is another option of making a ‘stand’, nobility shedding clothes to stand up for one’s principles, well, if you can’t work within the rules you don’t work there hence getting the GTCE involved.
    Perhaps I’m more annoyed by your post not because it believes nudity is not inherently inappropriate, it’s not, but rather because you are quite obviously ignore the ‘baggage’ that comes with this particular instance of nudity in a school that was inappropriate. It’s a bit like complaining about the current recession cuts by taking the example of an 90% cut in smily face stickers at the Met. Choose your battles more carefully, it looks like you have no sense of perspective.

    As for the trousers, it is ludicrous to extrapolate this issue into teaching rapists ‘it’s not their fault’. You can live in your moralising bubble or not but that does not stop the fact that girls often do ‘sexy’ school uniforms up for the wrong reasons. The child may wear them to feel more confident (because she now fits in with the rest of her sexualised friends) but that does not negate the sexualisation of the child regardless of how aware of that they are. You miss the point about ‘getting men to control their dicks’, this sexualisation of the young is damaging for both genders. It is not just about women modifiying their behaviour but also men, women should be more than ‘sexy’ objects. It’s easy to label it as some assault on women’s right to wear what they want but I guess the point is that these are children, they wear what is fashionable, or cool or makes them look grown up…. they do not understand the consequences that comes with such adult behaviour. To be sexualised is not internal, but by definition external, it only makes sense of others to consider the child sexualised, a young girl isn’t aware others are now perceiving her as sexual, she is only aware she is now getting more attention (but not aware she’s little more than an object). The school could have banned the offending articles based on the belief they breached their uniform code, or it could have decided the sexualisation and ‘sex race’ (of what girls in schools often get in to by trying to get away with less and less) was counter productive to producing fully formed adults holding respect for one another.

    • janefae says:

      A pity that you reamin cloaked behind your anonymity. You say no sinister undertone, but it seems to me strange, that despite the fact that you consider your views to be pretty mainstream and to reflect fairly accurately the consensus within the gtce that you still feel It might be career-threatening to make your points publically. And not a terribly good reflection on the teaching profession and its standards’ body, either, if that really is the prevailing ethos.

      I do mean pity, by the way: I don’t think we are going to agree but, absent some of the personalised sniping on your part, you do seem to make some fair points.

      In general, though, it feels to me as though your points boil down to two. On the nudity, forget any considerations as to the intrinsic rightness or wrongness of the deed: if this makes pupils uncomfortable either by the act or by the fact that the person concerned is knowingly transgressing a social consensus, it shouldn’t happen. That’s a view, but its also an argument for absolute social conformity – and it is circular, since you are assessing the magnitude of social non-conformity on your own value scale that assigns to nudity – or non-nudity – a pretty high moral value.

      Reduce the value assigned to that particular act and, er, the argument disappears.

      On “sexy” trousers, again little agreement. Sexualisation feels to me like a double-edged process with both internal and external components. However, given the comments of some of the girls involved, that were around practical uniform concerns, this does feel like pandering to external sexualisation by the boys.

      Might help, too, if you explained what you mean by “sexualisation”, since this is rapidly turning (in the public sphere) into one of those “when did you last beat your wife debates”. Basically: label whatever you care to as “sexualised” – and instantly the debate shifts on to those terms.


  4. Pingback: The real sexualisation of youth | Sex Matters

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