Pernicious

Everyday Sexism founder says she made chilling discovery about effects porn has on schoolboys

Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism project and author of 'Misogynation'. (Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)

High school rapists are so influenced by pornography and so lacking in sex education, they think their victims’ tears are “part of foreplay,” says Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism campaign.

Bates shared this shocking finding at the Edinburgh Book Festival, as she warned of an epidemic of sexual assault in British schoolyards — where a rape a day occurs during term time. In the three years to 2015, 600 rapes in U.K. schools were reported to police, according to the Times of London.

Due to schools’ lack of sufficient policies for dealing with the problem, victims of assault are then being returned to classrooms with their attackers. The ongoing absence of mandated sex and relationship lessons — which Bates thinks should begin before students reach their older teen years — also means there are no correctives for the “misogynistic and dehumanizing” nature of pornography that can be easily accessed online. And with schools using guidance formulated 20 years ago, “for all these people experiencing online porn and sexting there is absolutely no advice at all,” Bates said.

“I went to a school recently where they had a rape case involving a 14-year-old boy and a teacher had said to him, ‘Why didn’t you stop when she was crying?’ and he looked straight back at her, quite bewildered, and said, ‘Because it is normal for girls to cry during sex,’” Bates recalled.

“I go into schools and talk to children around that age all the time who think that crying is part of foreplay because they have seen so much online porn that normalises violence and treats women in a way that is incredibly misogynistic and dehumanising.”

Bates’s Everyday Sexism project began in 2012,  as a website to record stories of everyday instances of sexism in the workplace, schools, relationships, and in wider society, to demonstrate how rife the problem remains — despite claims being made to having achieved gender equality. The project has since provided a platform for hundreds of thousands of stories, and brought pressure to bear on the British government to update sex education in schools and make it compulsory, plus produce guidelines around students not having to share classes with other children who have raped or otherwise sexually assaulted them.

It also spawned a book in 2016, Everyday Sexism: The Project that Inspired a Worldwide Movement. Bates’ new book is a collection of essays, originally published in The Guardian, titled Misogynation: The True Scale of Sexism.

Read the full story at The Times and The Mirror.

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