creepy teachers & why they’re an issue*

*Trigger Warnings: rape, abuse, molestation.

School has started and I’ve been too tired to blog even on break. I have decided that I don’t think I’ll be blogging as much about fashion anymore. I don’t like it enough. From now on, my posts will be writing-oriented rather than fashion (but I’ll still have cultural things here and there, like music or films if I think they’re relevant.)

A topic that I have been thinking about and contemplating for some time is that of creepy teachers, the ones at school who may never actually harm anyone but who stare at their students in such a manner that is more out place at a learning institution than Don Draper is being monogamous. In other words, for those who haven’t had the privilege of watching Mad Men, it’s ridiculous and everyone knows it.

First, let’s establish what a creepy teacher IS. We all may have varying definitions of creepy, but according to Merriam-Webster, it means something that is “producing a nervous shivery apprehension.” Oxford Dictionary’s is similar: “causing an unpleasant feeling of fear or unease.” If we took this literally, we could use it a lot more generally–a physics final with a terrible professor, being late to a birthday party where you don’t know anyone, starting college, getting fired from your job–all of these could be creepy. But creepy is a word that is almost never used in these contexts and instead seems to apply to people, usually men, who have “wandering eyes.” And let’s be honest–teachers being creepy are some of the worst types of creepy people ever.

The thing about teachers in general (just like the word creepy, in general) is that  they are supposed to be teaching you how to do mathematics or science or Spanish or history. Something that I doubt has ever been in a teacher’s job application under “criteria” is “must stare at female and or male students in suspicious manners. Must meet with specific “favorites” after class for hours on end and must try to do everything in their power to deny any accusations of peculiar behavior.” And yet, here I am, in high school, worrying and wondering about the fate of these teachers’ current students.

The issue really first came to my attention when my younger brother was in middle school. In a history class in which he was not a student, he informed me, the teacher would purposely line up all of the girls in the front row just so he could see them better. He would meet with them outside the classroom to talk to them about how they were doing but really just stare them down. The girls were forced to wear scarves and jackets to cover themselves up when they were around him. At one point, students claimed, he got a visible boner in front of the whole class because the girls in the front row were all wearing skirts. Now, obviously, seventh graders are going to be over-dramatic and we can’t always be sure if what they’re saying is what they actually mean, but when I started observing said teacher (who was also the dean of students,) it became clear that he was not just a weird person or “misunderstood.”

And yet, the teacher is still there. After all of the things I have seen him do to students (touching a girl’s bare back when it wasn’t necessary, starting at younger girls who don’t even attend the school until their parents have to whisk them away, making the dance group do an unplanned encore performance at a regular Monday assembly) and just being an all around peculiar person, nobody has filed any complains and nobody has been fired. For one thing, the teacher is white. This basically gives him almost all of the protection he needs against being a molester, let alone a suspected “creep.” I’ve attempted to bring it up with other adults, just to see what they think, and all of them try to justify his being in a position. “He’s a good teacher and he really cares about the students,” was one and “maybe you see it that way, but a lot of people like him,” was another. Overall, the vibe I received from adults concerning the issue was “why should we care?”

Well, that’s a damned good question. Why should we care? These girls and boys are only in this class for nine months out of their middle school careers, less than 4 hours a week. They don’t have to see him for the rest of their lives. Once they reach high school, they aren’t required to talk to him for any reason. He’s just a person, just another guy hanging around and doing his job. Ah, yes. Doing his job.

Is being overly touchy-feely with girls doing his job?

No, as mentioned prior, it is obviously and most certainly not.  Sure, maybe the guy hasn’t raped any of the students, maybe he hasn’t molested them, maybe he’s just doing what he appears to be doing. But apparently, that’s not enough to bother people. Until the guy does something like rape someone or molest them, then action MIGHT be taken (and even then people will doubt that it happened.) And more to the point, what does it tell the people going into his class everyday? That being unsafe in a work space is normal? Girls are already taught from an age that seems to be steadily decreasing that our bodies really aren’t our own–they are other people’s to talk about, abuse, and control. The problem with creepy teachers is that they reenforce this idea that a school, a space that is supposed to be safe and encourage people to reach their highest potential, is just another place. Another place where people in positions of authority (white men) can do what they want.

And maybe, just maybe, this idea could come into the workplace? Other people in positions of authority (partners at a firm, say, colleagues of the head of a department at a television network) are probably aware that the CFO (position of power, but not as high,) John, keeps making crude comments to the women and/or men and may even go so far as to touch them more often than is necessary. And will they do anything about it? Probably not. Because it’s annoying to hire someone new, and more the point, why should they care?

It seems that while there are many creepy teachers who don’t actually show signs of being weird and then abuse children, there are just as many who do show signs, and before the attendees of the school and their parents know it, someone’s life has been changed. I am not saying that every creepy teacher needs to be fired immediately, but the least we could do is create an environment in which its acceptable to talk to people in positions of authority if they make us feel uncomfortable and have the power to stand against them.

Creepy teachers bother me because they’re just another part of the puzzle of victim blaming since nobody wants to acknowledge their behaviors, which are already traumatic enough, until it’s “too late.”. Creepy teachers are often ones who never shut up about the dress code because they want to be able to act like they are letting “girls respect themselves” when in reality, they want to justify their feelings towards their students by acting like it’s how they dress since they are obviously dressing for other people, another large component of victim blaming. They just aren’t as innocent as they seem and their destructive actions need to be taken seriously. They can’t be waved off.

Comment↓ if you’d like, discussions are always fun to have!

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “creepy teachers & why they’re an issue*

  1. Thank you times a billion for writing this. It really had to be said. I just want to share my own experience with creepy teachers here (sorry if I go off on a rant.)
    so, I go to an ancient english grammar school where everyone gets a billion A*s (I am the exception obviously) and it’s one of the top 40 schools in the country or whatever. 99% of the teachers are the nicest coolest smartest most qualified most awesome most capable people ever who make us cakes and sing Simon and Garfunkel in their spare time and show us pictures of their cats and whatever. But of course, there are exceptions. The maths teacher I had last year was the ULTIMATE pervy teacher from hell. He made at LEAST one person cry every frikking lesson, he slapped me numerous times he, groped people, made obscene comments and his lessons were horrendous. One lesson on a monday I forgot my maths book which, y’know, happens to everyone from time to time. I’d spent the weekend clearing out a relatives house which made me ill from exhaustion, I’d had about 3 hours sleep in three days, I’d got home very late the night before after a four hour train journey and I was basically just exhausted and ill. He completely went mental and started screaming at me, really really really yelling like I’d stolen his fucking motor bike or something. Sure, teachers have a write to tell people off but his sheer level of anger was completely unjustified and he started acting like a total creep. The worst part was that, urgh this is really hard to explain, something super shitty happened to me one (you can guess I’m sure) and I’d pretty much managed to stop thinking about it and be okay again and then him yelling like that brought it all back (he sounded exactly like said person) which resulted in me crying and shaking uncontrollably for the rest of the lesson and most of that day. Obvs that just made him angrier. He assaulted one of my friends and she had endless nightmares about it, as did other girls (I’m at an all girls school if I didn’t already mention that which means creeps have more chances to be creeps) who he did similar stuff to. But ya know the most fucked up thing? When we tried reporting it to our form tutor she was TOO FUCKING SCARED OF HIM HERSELF TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT. Eventually after he slapped me four times in a lesson and one girl got ill from worrying about it, people’s parents started making complaints and my mum and stepdad came in a confronted him and – my mum used to teach- told him they would get him suspended if it continued he stopped.
    Another time after some girls complained about a teacher commenting on their legs or something similar our head of house told us THAT IT WAS OUR FAULT FOR ROLLING UP OUR SKIRTS SO THEY HAD NO CHOICE BUT TO LOOK AT OUR LEGS.
    Sorry but what the fuck? For a start most people don’t roll up their skirts, they might have outgrown them or whatever. Secondly WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU MEAN THAT THEY HAVE NO CHOICE? THEY CANT CONTROL THEIR EYES? OR MOUTHS? Oh I’m so sorry. Poor guy. Or rather, FUCK HIM.
    Urgh this makes me so pissed off, sorry for the ranting but URGFHHCFGHJDHJBVGHJ.
    I’m just so sick of all this. This doesn’t involve creepy teachers but relevant whatever- once my best friend and I were at a party. And we got got veryyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy drunk which was stupid as we were around a billion dudes we didn’t know and then we both passed completely out pretty much simutenously. I was looked after by a guy who became my boyfriend afterwards who was so sweet and my friend was looked after by the guy who’s beer we had drunk. As passed out people get cold really easily and it was november and we were in a forest in the middle of nowhere the four of us were just in a little tent together to stay warm because Rosina and I were so out of it. The rest of the people were running around the woods totally stoned and then I heard someone say to the guy who was looking after my friend “Why don’t you just shag her Jack? She wouldn’t even notice.” Okay no, she wouldn’t have done in the state she was in but it’s just so fucked up that guys think like that, and we were lucky to be with nice guys who weren’t too drunk. Except we shouldn’t have to be lucky. We shouldn’t have to be in danger around a bunch of guys. And I mean, my boyfriend is the sweetest person ever. I just don’t get why so many girls I know are FLATTERED to get attention from creeps?
    Sorryyyy for the mega long super articulate comment, I hope it makes some kind of sense, I would write more but this has taken like 40 minutes to write and I need to head off the my friend’s house. Oh and happy new year!
    – Flower x

  2. Oh my god, Flower, it’s horrific that you had to experience such a fucking crazy teacher. And it must have been even worse to have the form tutor, the person in charge, be scared of his behavior as well. I can’t believe someone like that would be at a school for so long, the whole experience sounds horrrific beyond belief. And the fact that he did that to your friend and actually really hurt people emotionally is so horrible. AND (this is the 3rd and) that he triggered you too after such an exhausting night before. He doesn’t just sound like he was a creep, he sounds like he was abusive, which probably made it 20x worse, since he hit you and other people so many times. And that other teacher with the skirts seems just as irritating.
    Yes, exactly, if someone is drunk they obviously can’t consent to anything, and comments that I hear people make about intoxicated girls at parties (or really anywhere) completely disturb me. The worst thing is that people would consider you “lucky” in your situation since nothing actually became of it, but as you said, there shouldn’t be any “lucky” when these things happen.

    I think we can all agree that this whole teacher thing really feeds into a lot of other parts of rape culture. (And happy new years to you as well.)

  3. gillian

    Okay so I’ve never been personally victimized by a teacher but at my middle school one of the gym teachers was a total creep. I think that gym is like the worst class to teach if you’re creepy because you have access to the locker room /at any given time./ He once cornered this girl I was friends with and told her that she was making him “crazy” by wearing such low cut shirts and that she shouldn’t anymore. He also later told her something along the lines of “If you take off your shirt, you can get an A in my class.” None of us had the mental capacity to realize “oh shit we should tell someone because he’s FUCKED UP” so he stayed there for a while. He has since been fired, and while I don’t know the details, I am sooo relieved to think that he’s probably not allowed near schools anymore.

    • Wow that’s almost as shitty as Flower’s former math teacher. Gym is definitely the weirdest for obvious reasons–one of my friends went to an all-girls school and the gym teacher (who’s still there) would make them do “dance” exercises so he could watch them and they had to learn how to monitor their heartbeats and he’d try to “help” all the girls in the weirdest way possible even if they didn’t need any AND he asked a senior out on a date (!!!??) and he’s still there. It IS ALWAYS SO WEIRD when grown men say things like “you’re making me _____” when it comes to something they’re wearing. And that thing about the shirt is insane too–male P.E. teachers can sometimes be the shitiest of the shitty.

  4. *Crawls out of the shadows* HELLO. I love your blog so I gave you this: http://theoriesabound.wordpress.com/2013/07/07/liebster-liebster/

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