Gender discrimination

Discussion of the SES, particularly in the UK.
NYC
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Joined: Mon Feb 21, 2005 10:17 pm

Gender discrimination

Postby NYC » Tue Mar 15, 2005 2:13 am

I would like to start a new thread focused on personal experience of gender discrimination in the SES, SoPP, etc and affiliated children?s schools. I?m hoping that it will be possible for posters to limit themselves to first person accounts, which are the most powerful and convincing. If you will, imagine you are in court and report exactly what you can recall personally seeing and hearing regarding gender in this organization, and the effect these teachings have had on you. It is very instructive to those of us who are new to this board and/or to the Schools.

I would also like to invite posters on this particular thread to avoid debating each other. There are plenty of threads already where contributors critique other posts. I?d like for this thread to be straightforward personal testimony, without criticism or response to other peoples? experiences.

To get it started, I went through the ?Just discovered this! From ex pupil of Girls school? thread and pulled out quotes regarding gender discrimination where people reported their direct experience of SES/SoPP policies or teachings regarding gender, and the effect this policy or view had on them personally, whether positive or negative. Brackets are for deletions [?] and my additions, usually the antecedent of a pronoun. I have tried to be fair and represent quotes accurately.

I?m afraid many new readers of this board get bogged down in the back-and-forth and do not find many of the most compelling posts.

SEScaped
I attended stj for my entire education [?] Being young and impressionable I grew up really trusting and loving the philosophy ? [?] As I grew older and they began to come out with all that crap about women I cannot begin to describe the sense of betrayal and frustration.


Shout
The reciprocal effect upon me of being isolated from female existance for me entire life is that I remain sexually retarded and unable to communicate with women.


SEScaped
In every situation we [child students at St. James] were role locked - the boys as much as the girls. Attempts at pushing these boundaries invariable came up with the response that we were doing things in order to have contact with the boys showing the sexual predator instincts "typical" of women - not because we might have interests of our own!!

Despite this growing feeling of frustration and anger I joined foundation group in the vague hope that I might be able to salvage some sense of that childhood trust and faith. I began to realise that in their world view I could not hope to reach any kind of philosophical goal without being married to a man who I completely submitted to and served without thought of myself.


Grimep
There's a very serious allegation raised here which I feel is in danger of being buried: that the SES has subtle mechanisms in place to encourage girls who enter the Youth Group to be married to much older SES men?their reward for many years of loyalty and service to the school. Even if only one girl a year goes down this route isn't that one too many? As I have said in another thread, if this is true and gets known, either in OFSTED, the NSPCC or the press, it would be Game Over SES / St James. Seriously.


TS
Re: Grooming -yes- yuck! At 16 a dinner was organised with older men from the SES. I didnt get it immediatley even though there was an exact number of these weasels to match the girls, Someone asked why one man who we knew wasn't there and the answer as if it was obvious-'Hes married'. One girl got drunk and found herself in the back of a car ( consentually whilst very pissed) then I got asked out by this man in his 30's who was our chaperone in our school holiday in Italy.


Shout
I did briefly encounter some of the girls at Old Boys/Girls events to ask them if they were told to marry an older man: 'Yes...take care of you', one said, bewildered, as if it was the most normal thing in the world. A different girl didn't seem to mind telling me about the sex on Foundation girl weekends, and another proudly defended it, even when it was between girls and men who were 'tutors'.


Shout
When I was in Foundation Group we were instructed that it was 'the natural law' to marry a woman 2/3 our age I think, or as the Freudian slip sometimes came out: 1/3. (maybe that was 3/4 and 1/4 -can't remember)

We were also told something like 'A man is intelligence and reason, and a woman intuition and emotion.'


daska
Part of our career/education advice was to go to a local college or university so that we could stay at home. This would be 'safer' for us than moving away and not having our fathers to protect us. And it would be cheaper so we would be less of a burden on our parents.

Now, this, on the face of it is sensible and caring advice. BUT did any of the boys get the same advice? And if they didn't, why is a girl's education a burden when a boy's is not?

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a different guest
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Postby a different guest » Tue Mar 15, 2005 9:04 am

sorry nyc - I know you wanted personal testimony but I just can't help myself because

1) this is happening NOW and
2) it is happening HERE.

from the sydney school website a testimony from a 10 year old girl subjected to their "senior girls philosophy". http://johncolet.nsw.edu.au/Articles/se ... sophy.html

When I obey instantly what anybody asks of me, I feel light and happy.


Two key points
1) that a 10 year old would say such a thing
2) that the school would find the sentiment so worthwhile they publish it on their website

Keep in mind that the girls are taken OUT of the academic curriculum for this garbage
In the philosophy class the girls can take time out from the pace of the general curriculum. They can ask questions, listen to each other and give time to consider matters of real importance to their lives.


so I guess maths etc isn't "real" important - at least not for girls.

and one more scary quote
It is inspiring to hear girls describe how they made the effort despite their feelings because they realised their own personal preferences would not lead to happiness for themselves or anyone else.

hmm - despite "THEIR " feelings"? and is it more particularly the "anyone else"?

When I find it in my heart to forgive, especially my brother, I look back and see that it was such a silly thing to fight about."
(10 yrs old )

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Free Thinker
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Postby Free Thinker » Wed Mar 16, 2005 6:06 am

ADG - thanks for posting that

As you know, NYC, I was a SoPP member for many years and this is exactly the sort of thing I experienced. The emphasis is very much on women to ignore their feelings and eithe defer to men or those in positions of power over them to obey and listen to the others. I can't begin to describe how it damaged my mother's personality and ability to feel and act upon her emotions, and how my childhood was affected by this.

One of the big sayings, at least in the NY school was "not this, not this", to say to yourself when you feel negative emotions. They really want you to ignore those emotions or act as if they aren't there - as if somehow pretending to be happy leads to real happiness. It's really sad.

I remember one particularly infuriating incident when "serving" in the house in Boston where Mr. "I am God" himself was staying. I had cut my hand with a knife while preparing food and it really hurt. One of the men there who was at the same level of school as me but was about 10 years older was helping me to clean it up and get a bandage. I was about 17. I can't remember exactly how I acted or what I said (but remember that I had been taught for years to surpress my emotions, especially when sick) but he accused me of getting hysterical (not his exact words) and how I had to calm down, etc. This to a girl who almost never cried despite years of physical illness!!!!

That episode really describes the whole attitude of the SoPP/SES in a nutshell. I'm not surprised that nothing has changed. What generations of miserable, zombified women they are churning out!

FT

sescaped
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Postby sescaped » Wed Mar 16, 2005 12:10 pm

Would like to add a few more colourful experiences on this topic that demonstrate how the ses stjames attitude towards women creates potentially vulnerable situations for its pupils.

When i was 15 I told my tutor at SES that there was an older man that I found attractive (happened to be the only man in the whole of SES who had ever taken time to be nice to me). I talked to my tutor in (what i believed at the time) was confidence - i wanted her advice and just to talk about it with someone (yes - i know it was foolish!). Within a week my father had been called in for a meeting with one of the top men in SES who had suggested to him that a meeting was set up in order to get me and the man I had mentioned together with a view to potential marriage. Luckily my father was completely horrified by the suggestion and point blank refused to take it any further. Here is an example of how a school girl crush could have turned into a lifetime nightmare.

Example 2 is a little different but in many ways more sinister and involves an older man (he was 33) outside the SES. When I was 17/18 an older brother of one of the teachers came to give us a talk. A few months after the talk I recieved a letter from him saying that he had noticed me during the talk and thought i was attractive and would like to take me out. For a start he should never have been able to access my address through the school just because his sister was a teacher. I agreed to go out with him for a meal - and we met up a few times subsequently - I did not find him at all attractive, he took me round to see his friends in order to show off that he had managed to get such a young girl, he also constantly tried to get me to have sex with him saying that many women had been very grateful to him for the experience!! Needless to say I was backing away very quickly at this point! What happened next is, I think, completely out of order. As we were coming to the end of our time at St J we had to have a leaving ball (the girls had to organise / pay for / cook for this event and then ask a man to go with them). I had not yet decided who to ask to the ball when I recieved a phone call from the same older man WHO I HAD NOT ASKED AND NEVER INTENDED TO ASK saying that of course he would go to the ball with me. My own form teacher had taken it upon herself (without consulting me) to invite him for me through his sister.

I have since heard rumours that I am not the only st j girl that this same man got involved with in this way - he told me that he found the mysterious, untouchable , innocent aspect of st James girls facsinating and attractive.

In actual fact this whole episode makes me laugh now - but that does not alter the fact that through the school I was put in a position that made it difficult for me to distance myself from this man.

NYC
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Joined: Mon Feb 21, 2005 10:17 pm

Postby NYC » Thu Mar 24, 2005 6:33 pm

Hello all,

Although the enormous number of posts providing very consistent details about the abuse and bullying prevalent at St James and St Vedast schools is deservedly the big topic of this board, I am also stunned at the high level of institutional sexism. As Matthew Woolf wrote in his initial post on EXPERIENCES AT ST VEDAST (now St. James) AND THE S.E.S. ?Female subservience to men [is] another classic SES doctrine.? To those of you who grew up in the org and have since left it, this might seem like old news. But for people new to the board and the Schools, and also for people still a part of the School, I wanted to pull together some material regarding SES attitudes towards women from other threads. While these attitudes are not criminally prosecutable (as I think many of the abuse cases are) I can not imagine that a parent would want their daughter or son to be exposed to the attitudes described below. Also, I can not imagine that current teachers would want to defend most of these attitudes either.

Here are excerpts from Clara?s thread ?St James Girls School ? remembered?. If you have not yet seen the first post on that thread please read it. It is a heartbreaking post, and difficult to excerpt from. But it offers a very clear-eyed picture of a school run by teachers who lacked the commonsense and empathy to care for children.
Other posters respond:

sescaped
I would have been just starting in St J girls school at the time you describe. What your experience brings to mind for me is being told that women bore the entire responsibility for the effect that they had on men. In philosophy lessons we were told that women who were raped brought it on themselves by the clothes they were wearing ? hence the ankle length skirts.


Tamsin
you have also highlighted the common practice at St James of isolating and humiliating girls by painting them as sexually precocious and therefore dangerous.


daska
if something bad happens to you, you must have provoked it because you're female, therefore it is your responsibility not to let this happen and if something does happen then, because you're female and it is therefore your fault, you must apologise and be punished

because eventually it becomes habitual, you learn to punish yourself for your crime of getting people to be nasty to you



Below is an excerpt from Matthew Woolf?s thread ?EXPERIENCES AT ST. VEDAST (now St. James) AND THE S.E.S.? which can be found on pg3 of that thread. This was posted on Tue Mar 2, 2004 by someone who was then a student at St James School for Girls.

ANON-from the girls' school
Well now a days, the idea of women being equal to men is totally wrong! It is NOT the fact that both are equal, they cannot be compared! They are DIFFERENT. This great sense of women wanting to be independent, and wanting to show independance can in certain ways hurt a lot of people. It is evident enough, when a boy opens the door for a girl, hold's her bags, etc they do naturally show care, wanting to protect? Do correct me if I'm wrong.


Apparently the SES is a last bastion of 1) very strictly defined gender roles, 2) an emphasis on female subservience, and 3) the confusion of natural differences between the sexes with cultural roles. If other current students or teachers have personal experiences which contradict this picture, please post them. A person posting anonymously on the same page of this thread, stating he that in Feb of last year he was a current student at the Boy's school wrote:

ANON-from the boy?s school ?(for the purposes of this board, I name myself Antises)?
Although I oppose the SES on several major issues, I agree with them on treating women your own age as sisters. Men I know who have followed this principle have had happier and more successful relationships with women than those who have not.


Sounds reasonable. There are far more posts detailing other attitudes, however.

I myself can report that in the New York adult school, at a day-long Plato workshop, three people were cast to read some of Plato?s writings aloud. This was a special workshop, so some thought had been put into preparations. The readers wore a semi-costume (toga over the regular dress code). Two of the readers were men, and one a woman. Can you guess who read for Plato, who read for Socrates, and who read for Glaucon (the one who doesn?t see)? Glaucon in the dialogue has to continually say things like ?I?m afraid I don?t understand. Will you please explain??

Of course, since women in ancient Greece were not allowed to speak in public, it?s not historically accurate to have women read at all. But by having a woman read Glaucon?s part women could be included in a way that the School seems to prefer ? as assistants, underlings ? as people in need of protection, not as equal partners.

NYC


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