Niamh

I’m 15 and my school’s usually pretty good for equality but I remember in my Maths class the boy right next to me was making a sexist joke to some other boys, something about how a woman should stay in the kitchen and such. There were three boys he was talking to and two of them were laughing along. The other one was obviously uncomfortable and trying to make more pleasant jokes but didn’t feel comfortable calling him out on it. When I did, the boy who was making the joke started to mock me for it until another girl backed me up. This boy and I are friends so the mocking is far from the norm.

This isn’t the only incident, of course. I could mention hundreds of cases but most prominently I’ve heard a lot of comments by boys starting from 12 like “there are no good-looking girls at this school”. In fact, there was recently a case of sexual assault by a boy in my classes and they tend to joke about it a lot and no one says anything. If anyone tries to explain that it’s sexist and disgusting then they’re seen as too easily offended and unable to take a joke. These are the school’s most intelligent students too and it’s worrying me that I’ll be going into a male-dominated apprenticeship and career next year. We’re not even into the real world yet and we’re still being told how we’re supposed to conform to gender stereotypes.