The Gender Police (page 6)
These shootings reveal other problems in schools too, including a high level of sexual harassment and dating violence.
Chapter 4, “Gay Bashing,” examines the fate that awaits many boys who are perceived as failing to meet accepted parameters of masculinity and whose peers label them “gay.”
These boys, judged as wanting by students as well as adults, the school’s gender police, are taunted and abused. Many of the school shooters were heterosexually identified victims of relentless gay bashing; many cited revenge against such masculinity challenges as a motivation for their shooting.
Boys are expected to demonstrate what I have called a flamboyant heterosexuality, flaunting and bragging about sexual exploits with girls, with aggression and disdain. A successful image imbued in sexist and heterosexist expectations can vault a boy to the top of his school’s status hierarchy. Conversely, failure to conform to this image (by being respectful to girls, for instance) can quickly render boys vulnerable to harassment and assault.
As discussed in chapter 5, “Girl Bashing,” girls are themselves driven to conform to superficial and destructive gendered standards. Female teens and tweens navigate a minefield: they are judged by conventional standards regarding their body type and their ability to attract boys, but they are also increasingly pressured to be “tough” in today’s hypercompetitive and pervasively masculine society.
These pressures encourage girls to use violence as a means of proving themselves and help explain the dramatic increases in violence committed by girls as outlined by recent research.Much of the violence girls (and boys) wield is through text messages and in cyberspace, as addressed in chapter 6.
Slut bashing and gay bashing are common and persistent in these venues. Each technological innovation (texting, instant messaging, e-mail) makes this type of insidious bullying more painful and intimate.
It was bad enough when students were harassed on Facebook pages, but now they are tormented by text messages sometimes nonstop; or they may be victims of “sexting,” in which sexual photos of them are widely distributed to embarrass and humiliate them and ruin their reputations.