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Priorities for a new government: advice from our academics part 2

Blog Editor, IOE Digital12 May 2017


The IOE blog has asked colleagues from across the Institute what’s at the top of their wish list. We are publishing their replies during the run-up to the election.
Primary Education
The new government should take a new approach to primary education that sees this stage as a unique time in children’s lives. This will require them to look again at the purposes of primary education.
The current statutory assessment system is not fit for assessing children’s learning and needs radical change. The government should:

  • Move to national sampling.
  • Abolish the current SPAG test and phonics screening test and replace with more appropriate measures.

When it comes to the National Curriculum, the government should: (more…)

Tackling teaching about Trump: lessons from Black feminism

Blog Editor, IOE Digital11 November 2016

Jessica Ringrose and Victoria Showunmi
Many school and university teachers around the world have been asking how to discuss the 2016 USA elections with children, young people and students in the aftermath of what has been called the most divisive election in American history.
Wednesday night, in the wake of the election results, we were presented with the timely opportunity to re-tune our planned MA lecture in Sociology of Education on “Racism and Black Feminist Intersectionality” into a discussion about the global significance of Donald Trump’s election as President of the United States. Since the lecture was on Black Feminism, we would naturally be addressing the issues of racism and misogyny and also the deep class divisions that became powerful focal points throughout the battle between (more…)

Has Halloween become ‘Slutoween’ even for toddlers?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital16 October 2015

Siri Lindholm, Emilie Lawrence, Hanna Retallack and Jessica Ringrose
“In the regular world, Halloween is when children dress up and beg for candy. In girl world, Halloween is the one night of the year when a girl can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it,” explains Lindsay Lohan in the 2004 cult teen movie, Mean Girls. This statement is testament to the existence of a set of complex unwritten rules that girls must navigate and negotiate with on a daily basis, to avoid being shamed by adults and peers.
skankoween
Even small children aren’t immune from these pressures; the tweet quoted in the headline asks us ‘has Halloween become slutoween even for toddlers?’ Whilst the tweet poses ‘toddlers’ as the subject of debate it (more…)

School uniforms and double standards

Blog Editor, IOE Digital5 August 2015

Jessica Ringrose and Rosa Tully.
A school in Stoke-on-Trent has banned skirts on the grounds that they are ‘distracting’ to male teachers and pupils. The head teacher said that as girls ‘get older their skirts get shorter’. Jessica Ringrose, Professor of Gender and Education at the UCL Institute of Education, took part in a discussion on Radio 4’s Women’s Hour triggered by this news. Here, she and Rosa Tully, 16, founder of a feminist group in her London secondary school, extend the debate. (more…)

Consenting or consuming? What kind of sexuality is 50 Shades of Grey selling to young women?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital12 March 2015

Emilie Lawrence and Jessica Ringrose
On 8th March we celebrated International Women’s Day – a day to reflect on just how far we have come in achieving equality. This presents a good opportunity to discuss how the intricacies of sexual and emotional relationships are navigated in two of the biggest blockbuster films and novels in recent times – 50 Shades of Grey and Twilight. These representations raise questions over how we engage in a meaningful dialogue with young people about sexuality in a world where stories like these reign supreme
From toilet rolls to sex toys, 50 Shades of Grey spin-offs show that the support for the trilogy has been huge and the backlash even bigger. The book has been criticised for romanticising domestic violence, mental health issues, and for its childish repertoire of words used to describe body parts, experiences and sex. But the pressing question about the enormous success of the book trilogy and now the first instalment of the movie is why now?
Why during a period of proclaimed postfeminist equality for women and girls in education, work, and the public sphere do (more…)

When it comes to 'sexting' the risks are greater for girls

Blog Editor, IOE Digital16 May 2012

Jessica Ringrose
What is “sexting”? In the law and from the perspective of much mainstream media sexting is typically understood to be the exchange of sexually explicit or nude photos. Concern has so far focused on the illegality of underage images. However as our new report published by the NSPCC demonstrates, we need to move away from a focus on “stranger danger” and the abstract threat of pornography on the internet. The report shows that young people need help in managing the everyday use of technology and their peer gender relations at school including those that are sexual or likely to become sexual, especially if these become coercive.
Technology is not neutral. It creates more intense and prolonged degrees of contact between peers. It facilitates the visual objectification of bodies via the creation, exchange, collection, ranking and display of images. But the report, A qualitative study of children, young people and “sexting”, demonstrates how boy and girl bodies are treated differently and technology can amplify sexual double standards. This is important, and links in crucial ways to Lynne Featherstone’s body confidence campaign. We must find ways to encourage young people’s confidence and well-being about their physical bodies and sexuality.
Girls are most adversely affected by sexting because of a sexual double standard. Boys are to be admired and “rated” for possessing photos. Girls are encouraged to send images, then blamed and called “stupid skets” if they do. They are also vilified in the media.  Collecting images of boys’ bodies does not carry the same kudos for girls. Girls are also at risk if they openly speak about sexual activities and practices, where boys are actually at risk of peer exclusion if they do not brag about sexual experiences. 
This means it is very important to differentiate if and when sexting becomes coercive. Sexting does not refer to a single activity but rather to a range of activities typically motivated by sexual pleasure, flirting and fun. But given the wider culture of sexism and sexual double standards it is not surprising that this can sometimes become coercive.
Sexting reveals and relates to a wider sexist, sexualised culture. Young people are managing globalised consumer oriented cultures. There are gendered expectations on appearance and bodies (being very thin, having large breasts or big muscles) and gendered scripts of masculinity and femininity with pressures around certain forms of sexuality where coercion may be seen as normal.
My co-authors Rosalind Gill, Sonia Livingstone and Laura Harvey and I believe we urgently need better educational resources. E-safety strategies need to address the type of peer generated content I’ve explored, and include up-to-date, realistic resourcessuch as film clips. We need gender sensitive support that does not treat sexting as the fault of girls, and also we cannot simply demonise boys. We need resources that offer practical and ethical ways to challenge and overturn the sexual double standard whilst empowering both girls and boys, considering the sexual health and pleasure of all young people as a right.
Sexting itself is not inherently coercive or harmful, but there are some clear legal aspects and social consequences which need to be understood and avoided by young people.
Watch a video clip of Jessica talking about her research at Cardiff University.