Reading the testimonies so far has highlighted just how normalised misogyny was at KEGS. A number of the accounts detail things which myself and other boys were almost definitely unaware of, but, more worryingly, there were many events and happenings mentioned which we were all perfectly aware of, and in some cases participated in to some degree, knowingly or not (e.g. the frequent “ranking” of female students which took place). This shows the problem is far deeper than just the individuals committing vile acts of abuse and harassment; the inaction of the majority (both students and staff) in preventing these things from happening, is another whole side of the problem.
Early on, misogyny was subtle, but completely existent. During Charity’s Week, lower school boys were exposed to the female Sixth Form students in a greater capacity than the rest of the year, and around this time, comments and seemingly benign “rankings” were more frequent. In particular, the Pledge Auction (which no longer exists, thankfully, for a myriad of other concerns surrounding it) saw classes bidding as much as they could to “win” the groups with the most women they felt were attractive, and throughout the day they would constantly make comments towards them, and disrupt lessons with their behaviour. More needs to be done at this early stage of development, to ensure boys (many of whom do not have much, if any, experience with young girls and women) learn respect towards women.
More recent anecdotes are particularly shameful for me, knowing myself and others were, in some cases, in a position to do something. One individual I used to be friends with, had a disgusting attitude towards women, and at a party during Sixth Form, proudly stated “[Female student] is drunk now, I’m going to try and get with her”, to which me and my friends shared a look of concern, but ultimately shrugged off. Since leaving, I’ve bared witness to him doing the same thing to another female ex-student. During Sixth Form, I heard a couple of stories of sexual assault, always from a male student to a female student they were dating, and again, the complete lack of action from myself and others was and is unacceptable. There was no ignorance here; we were all aware, and simply did nothing. An emphasis on calling out friends, and preventing these events from happening before they occur, should be given in sexual education.
Because my experience at KEGS from Year 7 through to Sixth Form was largely a good one, I’ve fallen prey to a false perception of it being a perfect school, and it must have been a great experience for anyone who attended. The testimonies shared show just how wrong this view is, and how far KEGS has to go in in educating its young boys early on in their development – I would urge anyone who shared my perspective to read the testimonies carefully, and consider just how damaging the environment was to the women who attended our school.