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The standardized attitude to gender and sexuality imposes strict limitations on the ways the public might accept young females’ behaviors. The article by Miller (2016) addresses the findings of a study conducted with 54 adolescent girls who experienced gender-related bullying at school. Queer sexual orientation or sex life particularities often become the reason for rumors as a specific type of bullying that many girls are subjected to in schools. The author of the article analyzes the causes and outcomes of the stereotyped gender perception framework existing in the educational institutions and the society which leads to disadvantaged school experiences or even suicidal cases.
Miller (2016) detects several reasons for negative manifestations of sexuality negotiation. Firstly, poor sex education leads to bullying because of early sexual experiences. Indeed, “slut rumors,” as Miller (2016) puts it, expose the victims to be separated from the group and be bullied due to the inability to fit in the stereotyped environment (p. 724). The ubiquity of collectively accepted norms constrains the natural manifestations of sexuality. Secondly, a homophobic educational environment forces gay people to be estranged and feel abnormal. ‘Lesbian’ rumors prevail in girls’ school negotiations of sexuality and isolate homosexuals as abnormal individuals (Miller, 2016). As Woods (2017) states in her work, “gender-stereotyped curricular material diminishes education for all students” (p. 197). From a broader perspective, not only schools but also media portrays females stereotypically, thus objectifying them and reinforcing sexual prejudice that results in violence against young women.
Therefore, rumors only become bullying if the information spread by gossiping is contradictory to the norms. The boundaries are created through sex culture and education that teaches what is right and what is wrong. Young girls who are victimized on the basis of their gender or sexuality are at risk of school drop-out and suicidal attempts. Subsequently, gender-based bullying might be eliminated by reconstruction of gender perception in schools and media.
Miller, S. A. (2016). “How you bully a girl”: Sexual drama and the negotiation of gendered sexuality in high school. Gender and Society, 30(5), 722-744.
Woods, J. T. (2017). Gendered lives: Communication, gender, and culture (13th ed.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth Publication.