When people say Australia, you probably think of beaches and bikinis and the Hemsworth brothers. You might even think of deadly snakes and spiders the size of your fist. But this week, in Reasons Why We Still Need Feminism, news has emerged from south of the equator that’s scary for a whole other reason.
Melbourne high school Kambrya College has been under fire, for ‘slut-shaming’ its students.
The news follows on from last week’s horrifying story that female students in 70 Australian schools have been targeted for a website set up by men and teenage boys to swap sexual images of schoolgirls. Kambrya College, one of the schools targeted, responded by calling all of their female students into an assembly and telling them to check the length of their skirts.
But Year 9 student Faith Sobotker hit back at the message the school was sending: that this whole situation was somehow the girls’ fault.
Holding up a crumpled piece of paper that read, “The length of my skirt or dress does not matter,” Faith then delivers a beautifully eloquent speech that has since gone viral.
“My self respect is doing what makes me happy,” she says. “You can’t tell me what ladylike is because we don’t live in the 50s any more. I am looking for equality.”
A chorus of “preach” and “yes!” can be heard in the background from her peers.
Following the backlash, one of the students’ mothers posted an open message on Facebook to condemn the school’s attitude:
“At the assembly my daughter and her friends said they were told they had to check the length of their skirts, and that anything that doesn’t touch their knees or below by Monday morning would be deemed inappropriate. They were informed that this was to ‘protect their integrity’. They were also told not to post photos of themselves online, and to refuse any request from a boyfriend for a ‘sexy selfie’, as their boyfriends will only be around for a couple of days; maximum a year; but definitely not in ten years’ time. They were told the boys are distracted by their legs, and that boys don’t respect girls who wear short skirts.”
Obviously, the problem is not with girls and the length of their skirts, it’s with the boys (and grown-ass men) who chose to share these images online. This is not the fault of young girls and women who trusted their privacy would be respected, only to have it thrown back in their faces. The real issue here isn’t the length of anyone’s skirts, or that girls are sending these photos in the first place – it’s about boys and their lack of respect. The way they talked about their peers as if they were animals to be ‘tracked’ and ‘hunted,’ rather than the real flesh and blood humans who sat next next to them in History class or let them copy their Maths homework.
Kudos to Faith, for spreading the message that slut-shaming and victim-blaming is never ok.
You’re our Shero.