With regards to gender equality, education is integral in ensuring a child’s basic comprehension regarding the evolving parity between women and men. On 28 January 2014, the House of Lords voted against making sex and relationship education compulsory in English schools which would have included teaching about zero tolerance of violence in relationships, the importance of respect and sexual consent and same-sex relationships.
Logic tells us that if we educate children on the importance of gender equality and acceptance in sexuality, then they are likely to advance in to a more welcoming and less misogynist society. Without education, our future generations will inhale and accept the patriarchal culture that is firmly embedded in to society and will merely result in a revolving circle where women are subordinate to men, where gay people are subordinate to straight. Without education during primary socialisation, archaic theories and chauvinistic thoughts are going to reincarnate within the children of today and the adults of tomorrow.
The inclusion of pop culture to the debate fuels the importance for change in the education system even more, particularly with regards to gender inequality. The lack of education regarding gender equality is pernicious as is, without the growing sexualisation of females that exists within today’s pop culture, particularly the music business. The fact that pop culture moulds and socialises young generations cannot be stressed enough, and thus the sexualisation of pop icons – such as Rihanna and Miley Cyrus – causing an immersion in to the patriarchal culture teaches the young girls of today that this is normality and the sexualised treatment of women is something to aspire to. Without an education on this, young women will treat the behaviour of pop culture icons as equitable, following just what the hypodermic needle theory argues. Without this initial education, how are children going to know any different?
It is sickening and simultaneously concerning that one of the most purchased singles of 2013 and a multiple Grammy nominated track is essentially about the servitude of females, with some arguing that the song discusses and even legitimatises rape. The lyrics, “I always wanted a good girl,” and, “I know you want it,” reverberating radios, iPods and TVs everywhere has been substituted in favour for the – what I thought would be – the natural next step in society: songs that discuss the empowerment of women.
Fashion – another indispensable part of pop culture – is another thing that needs to be considered and alternated. I draw particular cogitation to the controversy that surrounded Urban Outfitters with regard to their ‘Depression’ and ‘Eat Less’ t-shirts. The retail chain, popular amongst youth culture, are essentially encouraging eating disorders amongst young women whilst synchronously using a mental disorder, affecting millions, as a capitalist gain despite the negative implications on society.
With recent revelations and allegations, it has also been revealed that many previous icons of pop culture, such as Jimmy Savile, and current icons of pop culture, Lost Prophets‘ singer, Ian Watkins, have sexually abused many young girls. Thus, we can tangibly see that the abuse of women is occurring within the entertainment sphere particularly. So how are things ever going to change if we do not initially educate the young but instead allow them to freely roam the sexist pop culture that suffocatingly cocoons them?
In January 2013, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Home Office released statistics which showed critical information with regards to the sexual assaults against women. The statistics were, and still are, heinous to the uninformed eye: 85,000 women in England and Wales are raped per year, with one in five women (ages 16 to 59) having experienced some kind of sexual assault from the age of 16. Although a year ago, the figures still ring true and are only distressing because of the lack of discipline with regards to gender equality and patriarchal-driven crimes that we receive.
Hence, it is key for society to change these sexist and patriarchal ideas as early as possible and the rational answer to this is to insert our new, developed and sophisticated ideas regarding gender equality into the education system. It is necessary that we ensure that children who are undergoing internal turmoil due to sexual confusion are also accepted and assisted to ensure that they grow into someone who is content with how they were born into this world. Without this prior education, sexuality is going to continue to be an intangible tangle of thoughts and emotions, with a child potentially fighting against what they were born to be with the influence of pop culture and tradition promoting hegemonic gender and social roles. Education can fight against pop culture by developing a child’s mind at school way before it is tainted by the chauvinistic likes of Robin Thicke.
Times have changed. The education system needs to also, because without altering the beginning, how are we to ever re-create the end?