In the professional world especially, double standards are majorly dominant and the teaching profession is not an exception.
Teachers are undergoing tough times with their school administration and parents of the students they teach for things they do outside work and if one was to be keen enough, more attention is paid to what female teachers do outside work as compared to their male colleagues.
What exactly are school administrations afraid of with our female teachers? What questionable activities are our female teachers doing that could possibly jeopardize their reputation and the reputation of the school they teach? And most importantly, why aren’t male teachers getting so strictly monitored by the school administration and parents?
Just a couple of weeks ago, the tales of two teachers featured in numerous blogs that made so many people wonder what sort of double standards are applied in our schools here at the UK when it comes to male and female teachers.
One of the stories that caused rants in social media was the story of a young 21 year old teaching assistant named Gemma Laird.
The parent immediately notified the school head mistress Laura Liddell and had the assistant teacher dismissed.
Gemma Laird was called into the head mistress office and was informed that her lingerie modeling and the pictures of her in lingerie were inappropriate and could possibly damage the school’s reputation.
The head mistress went ahead and added that she did not want her students to think that it was acceptable to be a model.
Gemma Laird reports that she was made to feel dirty and also made to feel like a prostitute during the confrontation.
The other story that also made headlines all over social media just the other month was a story of a male teacher who was branded ‘world’s sexiest teacher’ after his students googled him and found pictures of him modeling.
Pietro Boselli who is a math lecturer at the University College London is now doing quite well since he was outed by his students as an underwear model and has since gotten himself a contract with Armani.
These two stories have brought a lot of controversy among teachers, students, school administration and parents.
The stories have also raised a lot of concerns as to how damaging a modeling job can be for teachers and whether or not it does damage the school’s reputation.
Though the story of Boselli and Gemma are different, they clearly illustrate how the society we live in reacts to a case of female and male sexuality.
It also shows how harshly treated women are when they decide to take sexual agency over their own bodies as opposed to how men are treated in the society.
Why is acceptable for a male teacher to model underwear as a part time job and it is considered morally and professionally wrong for a woman to model lingerie.
The case of Gemma is specifically difficult to comprehend since she claims that the school administration was aware of what she does out of the school and were absolutely okay with it.
How then did the school administration shift from being okay with her modeling lingerie to seeing it as a possible jeopardy to the school’s reputation? It also makes one wonder what criteria was used to discern whether or not it was unacceptable for a female teacher to model outside their job.
There are numerous of concerns that have been brought about by the story of Pietro and Gemma, and one of them is that teachers are clearly being monitored outside the school environment not just by school administrations and parents but also by students.
Teachers are being stalked all over social media by their students and parents and to a certain extent this becomes an invasion of privacy.
There are similar cases like one where a teacher was fired after a student stole an intimate picture from her phone and spread it all over social media.
The firing of that teacher clearly shows that schools have absolutely no regard to teachers’ privacy and only care about impressing parents and protecting the reputation and image of the school.
While it is important that schools maintain a good reputation, some of these practices are taking us back to the days when women were being bashed and looked down upon for expressing their sexuality.
It also shows that there is very little progress going on in schools in effort to get rid of chauvinism.
If a teacher is getting fired for coming out as a lingerie model, something that clearly doesn’t affect her ability to teach in any way, what happens to teachers who come out as LGBT?
It would be very naïve of us to think that teachers cannot and should not model, especially female teachers.
It is also unfortunate that teachers are being treated this badly and we are busy asking ourselves why there are fewer teachers and why teachers prefer teaching abroad or even why newly qualified teachers are quitting barely a year after joining the profession.
How are we going to get young and newly qualified teachers to stay in the profession when they are being stalked all over social media and prevented from expressing their sexuality? We are literally screaming to twenty year olds not to join the profession and begging the ones who are already in the profession to quit.
There was an incident where a female teacher was fired after an intimate photo of her was uploaded on the internet even though the photo had been taken 17 years ago.
If this doesn’t yell to our newly qualified teachers to quit the profession immediately, I don’t know what does.
We need more teachers in our classrooms and we need to come up with ways to treat them better, not firing them every chance we get and definitely not by applying these sorts of double standards that clearly scare them away.