Rape Culture Is Real
And so are rape schools.
Eton College. Tonbridge School. King’s College School. Dulwich College. Latymer Upper School. Those are just a few names of prestigious educational institutions in the UK, some of which accept boys only. While they pride themselves in an excellent reputation and raising public figures like Boris Jonson or Princes Harry and William, recent stories shared on the platform Everyone’s Invited make a blot on their escutcheon.
Everyone’s Invited, found by Soma Sara, is an online safe space, created for assault survivors to share their traumatic experiences. Thousands of horrifying stories show that what recently happened to Sarah Everard was not a single case but a part of a horrible, blameworthy, disgusting pattern. This pattern, called rape culture, is purposely ignored and swept under the rug by educators and teachers.
Yes, I point the education system out because a frightening number of assaults, published via Everyone’s Invited, was experienced by survivors in their school age. “In 2018 I was sexually abused by a pupil at your school who graduated that same year. This sadly was not an isolated incident as it was followed up by more sexual harassment from a group of his friends,” shares one of them. The institution in this account is identified as prestigious Dulwich College, advertised online as “a boarding school where pupils from all backgrounds feel equally valued.” Sounds painfully ironic.
Zan Moon, sexually assaulted by a boy at another reputable school, Eton College, went a step further than sharing her traumatic experience anonymously. She published a 15-page dossier of incidents at different institutions as an open letter to their heads. While some of the headmasters vaguely express concern and promise to listen to their students, simultaneously, they claim to teach consent and therefore, don’t recognize the significance of the problem.
Stories like Zan’s prove that consent is actually not being taught or, at least, not being taught effectively at privileged institutions which spend money on lacrosse lessons instead of sexual education. Because rape culture doesn’t start when women are chased on their way home, raped and murdered, like Sarah Everard was. Quite the opposite, this is where rape culture reaches its most frightening extreme.
We need to start from scratch to stop those extremes from happening. If British prestigious institutions don’t want to turn into ‘rape schools’ forever, they need to teach what consent is in practice, call out misogynist behavior and monitor not only their students’ scores but also their approach to one another. Little boys pulling their friends’ hair or using the word ‘pussy’ as derogatory are likely to catcall, objectify, harass, abuse, humiliate or assault women in the future. Because those little boys are going to be grown-up men sooner than we think. If nobody is going to teach them that violence doesn’t equal power and women are not objects, when they’re kids, they’re not going to understand it as adults.
Rape culture won’t stop without rape schools taking responsibility. But it won’t change soon if elite institutions will continue to prioritize ‘the boy's prospects and the school's reputation,’ as Zan Moon describes the top private schools' system. Her conclusion is sad but painfully true and relatable: "what happens to us girls doesn't matter to them."