Teachers condemn 'raunch culture' for fuelling sexism under the guise of irony and empowerment

National Union of Teachers will today claim women's liberation has been set back 40 years by a culture that has led to student union beauty pageants and pole-dancing exercise classes

Women's liberation has been turned back 40 years by a new “raunch culture” that has led to “beauty pageants” being staged by student unions and pole-dancing exercise classes, teachers are expected to claim today.

A resolution due to be debated at the National Union of Teachers (NUT) annual conference raises fresh concerns that sexism and inequality is still shaping women's lives.

It says: “Far from being 'ironic' or 'empowering', the rise of the new sexism is damaging.”

Schoolgirls are growing up in a world where it is normal for women's bodies to be seen as sex objects, the union is expected to say - and warns that this affects the way they see themselves and their place in society.

The resolution calls for the NUT to express its concerns about “the rise of what has become commonly known as 'raunch culture', where the old sexism of the past has been rebranded by big business”.

The motion says: “In particular, the gains of the last 40 years in terms of women's sexual liberation are being turned back on women and girls in commodified form.”

It adds that “pole dancing is sold as an 'empowering' form of exercise, and that the 'beauty pageants' of old have become a staple of student union life.”

The resolution urges the union's executive to take action, including working to increase teachers' confidence in giving sex education lessons and campaigning to raise the profile of sex education in schools.

Speaking before the debate, NUT general secretary Christine Blower said: “There have been legal advances, but women still suffer significant inequality. Austerity is making women poorer and sexism still needs challenging to ensure that all women can achieve their full potential.

“Teachers are in a good position to empower girls and gay women to be self-confident and to reject stereotypes.”

The resolution comes the day after delegates at the NUT's conference passed a resolution raising concerns that schools are not required to teach personal, social and health education - or sex and relationships lessons.

This was resulting in many young people leaving education ill-informed or unaware of their rights or the relevant services, the union said.

Speaking after the debate, Ms Blower said: “It is important for all children and young people to learn, in an age-appropriate manner, about respect for their own and other people's bodies and emotions.

“This is all the more important given the rising levels of pornography which is very much in the public domain. There also continues to be a high rate of sexual harassment and homophobic bullying in society at large, despite efforts in schools to address and reduce it.

“If schools do not have the time and are not encouraged to invest in this area of the curriculum, then some pupils will be left to struggle with issues that can seem insurmountable and they will miss the chance to acquire vital life skills.”

A Department for Education spokesman said: “Ministers are clear about the importance of PSHE (personal, social and health education) - that is why it remains part of pupils' education. PSHE encompasses a number of different areas, many of which are compulsory.

“Beyond that it is right that teachers are given the freedom to tailor PSHE to the pupils whose needs they know best. We are funding the PSHE Association to demonstrate best practice in covering the subject.

“Sex and relationship education is compulsory in maintained secondary schools and it remains for primary schools to decide whether they want to teach it. All teaching of sex education must be age-appropriate and have regard to the Secretary of State's guidance.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
News
Tottenham legend Jimmy Greaves has defended fans use of the word 'Yid'
people
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West, performing in New York last week, has been the subject of controversy as rock's traditional headline slot at Glastonbury is lost once again
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living