It’s hit the media again. This time the NOS program Studio Sport has the shadowy honor, where presenter Tom Egbers would have colored outside the lines in his behavior towards an ex-trainee. The reality is: every woman has experienced transgressive behavior in her life, unfortunately not infrequently in the area of unwanted sexual harassment. According to Statistics Netherlands, there are 100,000 victims of sexual assault, rape and/or abuse in our country every year − 90 percent of them are women.
When I look back on my primary and secondary school years and my student life, transgressive behavior was a given. In primary school we had Master Lex, who always touched the girls a little too often and took them on his lap. In high school, the biology assistant used to hang all over you and gasp in your ear when he wanted to explain something to you. In college, a professor had my photo on his desk—in class, of all places. He also called me all the time. Did I realize at the time that this was cross-border behavior? I do know that it made me feel extremely uncomfortable and quit his craft. Years later I ran into him at a conference and he pretended not to recognize me. I walked up to him and asked him straight out if he didn’t know who I was. He looked at me for a long time and said no.
When I received an email this week from my daughter’s secondary school about a safe learning environment, in response to all the media reports about transgressive behaviour, I was pleasantly surprised. It is so important that we teach girls and boys at an early age what is and is not allowed, in other words: what falls under transgressive behaviour. Never, but never, should a teacher abuse his or her position of power towards a student.
In addition, as with bullying, it also concerns the bystanders. A bully does not stop bullying on its own. The person who is being bullied is often unable to stop it himself. The same applies if you witness transgressive behaviour: you must also intervene. And just as is often the case with bullies, men (and women) who exhibit transgressive behavior also suffer from issues. For men who are also guilty of sexual intimacy, either ‘only’ verbally or also physically, those frustrations lie in the sexual field. Perhaps some further research should be done into the relationship between having a sex addiction and transgressive behaviour.
We must therefore make our children aware of such behaviour, but we must also educate our boys properly. It starts when they are still very small. Many a mother, as I have experienced in the schoolyard, thinks that a boy is quite allowed to hit a girl if she hits him first. While I always tell my son: “If you get hit by a girl, don’t hit back!” I have had discussions about this with other mothers in the schoolyard. “No, Pietje can hit Fleur! She started.” Perhaps a good first step towards preventing transgressive behavior later in life is to teach your son that you should never hit a girl. We don’t want to raise jerks who later harass girls and women with comments, touches and dick pics, do we?
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