Tackling age-old misogyny must start in the classroom | Letters

Cynthia Gallaway on her experiences as a young adult 40 years ago, Dr Sue Roffey on how boys need to be educated, Helen Gunn on the sexism that pervades society, and Peter Stewart on the police’s role

Your print headline, “Women facing an ‘epidemic’ of indecent exposure” (Report, 1 October), is in the wrong tense. Women have been facing an epidemic of indecent exposure for decades.

I am 69 years old, and in my teens and 20s I was a victim of it at least four times that I can remember. I am not unusual. My generation felt that we had to take this kind of male behaviour in our stride, and were advised to not wear provocative clothing, to not lead men on and to be vigilant when on our own, particularly at night. Forty years after my experiences, we are only just starting to have a conversation about how to prevent this “epidemic”.

The behaviour and attitude of men and boys towards women and girls, and indeed vice versa, must be discussed at school from a young age if we are to achieve a balanced society of mutual respect and equality. It is shameful that it has taken the murder of a young woman at the hands of a police officer for women’s safety to be taken more seriously when we have lost so many already. I now find myself wondering if the men who exposed themselves to me and so many others also went on to assault, rape or kill – I will never know.
Cynthia Gallaway
Twickenham, London

• Concerns about misogyny have dominated the media following the abduction and murder of Sarah Everard, but there has been little attention given to how toxic masculinity might be addressed in education. Boys need to know how to have healthy relationships and regulate their emotions. This will only be achieved by consistent input on social and emotional learning from children’s earliest days in school until they leave.

Unesco and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, among others, emphasise the importance of “learning to be” and “learning to live together”, not just “learning to know” and “learning to do”. I look forward to the day when an outstanding school is judged on all four pillars of learning.
Dr Sue Roffey
Honorary associate professor, University College London

• Re Marina Hyde’s excellent article (All women know they are prey – and that no one with any authority seems to care, 1 October), I am 62 years old and cannot remember a time when I have felt free of the threat of male violence. It saddens me that my granddaughter will be given the same kind of advice handed down to me all those years ago to try to keep safe. As teenagers, we thought that if anything happened to us at the hands of men, we would be partly blamed. All women have an invisible curfew after dark that follows them through their lives, while men are free to do as they please.

Marina encapsulated my frustration when she called on those in power to stop pontificating about “lessons to be learned”. Women are demanding action. Misogyny can be found in every aspect of our culture. Women are being killed every day and those in power turn a blind eye. How many more must pay the price for their inaction?
Helen Gunn
St Owen’s Cross, Herefordshire

• My reply to Nesrine Malik’s question (Is it really so radical to say the police aren’t fit for purpose?, 4 October) would be “perhaps not”. I wrote an MA dissertation titled “Masculinity: violence against women and the police response to it” 27 years ago, and it is still relevant today.
Peter Stewart
Northfields, London

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