According to a report in The Sunday Times, “volunteer squads of girls” are being recruited in schools “to police sexist language and behaviour and report back to teachers.” Keen to support these juvenile ‘thought police’ the Government is issuing back-up guidelines. Head teachers will be advised to appoint senior teachers to the position of “gender champions”. It is all part of its campaign to crack down on the use of so-called sexist terminology in the playground and in the classroom. Apparently, even five year olds are guilty.
In addition, schools will be told to have clear policies in place to persuade girls to choose ‘male’ subjects such as maths, physics and computer science at A-Level. Boys will be encouraged to study ‘female’ subjects, such as English, psychology and foreign languages.
That the Government feels a need to get so involved, even in the detail of what should amount to straightforward anti-bullying policies in schools, is surprising. Clearly, in the eyes of the DfE, not all schools are demonstrating sufficient zeal in pursuing breaches of the Government’s politically correct agendas. The use of female pupil thought police and “gender champions”, however, takes us into new and rather sinister territory.
Who would be a male pupil these days – assailed as they are, on all sides, by a modern version of ‘witch-finders’ or should that be ‘warlock finders’? And it seems that ‘sexism’ is pretty much one-way traffic of boys on girls. No talk of male pupils being employed as guardians of gender equality! This is odd, since a term very commonly seen as sexist is the word “sissy”, which is used to demean boys rather than girls. Similarly, “man up” is regarded as sexist but, again, is used of boys rather than of girls.
What terms, then, will the girls’ ‘thought police’ be listening out for? “Cupcake” seems to be high on the list, alongside, “Go and make me a sandwich’. There will have to be lots more, though, in order to give the sexism police something to do? How about, “Little Miss Bossy”? Too tame? Perhaps the pupil police girls will exercise their newfound powers and make up a few choice words. Girls can be quite potent when it comes to bullying. How about ‘pleb’? Not sexist enough! Better stick with “bitch” but not “son of a bitch”!
And there we have the problem. The new anti-sexism strategy is an open invitation to bullies of the female sex to lord it over the lads. In primary schools, Hermione Graingers, of Harry Potter fame, have long been dominating the boys. As head of a boy’s prep school it was obvious to me that the biggest advantage of single sex education for boys of a young age was that they could be liberated from domination by girls.
By the teens, of course, boys are beginning to assert themselves, which is another argument for single sex education. Girls’ schools do not suffer from any problems with the choice of which A-Levels pupils study. Maths and the sciences are often the most popular subjects. Equally, in all-boys’ schools, the pupils are not put off what in co-ed schools are considered the ‘girlie’ subjects.
We should not be creating an atmosphere of threat and intimidation for boys by placing them at the mercy of volunteer squads of girls acting as thought police. Instead, the Government should offer parents the choice of single-sex schools.