For Michael Salter, professor in criminology at the University of New South Wales and expert in masculinity, there is a crucial phase in adolescent development as gender identities start to form and there are vital questions to ask about boys’ transition from primary school to high school, and the sorts of peer structures that get established.
“At this age they become very gender segregated, and become militant around gender norms, in many cases boys are actively discouraged from seeing their female school friends as human beings – it’s a total failure of empathy, a failure to see a girl as human.
“Codes of behaviour are very strict during that period of time. Boys are subject to physical violence from other boys, can be seen in some way as weak or overly sympathetic if they are interested in platonic relationships which then become actively sexualised by young boys. That’s not necessarily true with girls.”
Timely for this article to come out now, after the movie I saw last night. There’s really so much of it I could have quoted; it’s an incredibly insightful piece about how that “gender segregated” old-timey kind of Western culture fosters misogynistic disrespect, and then ultimately sexual violence.