High School Girls Take Action Against the 'Boys Will Be Boys' Culture After Male Classmates Rated Their Appearances

When a group of high school girls found out that their male classmates were circulating a list giving them a numerical ranking based on their appearances, they decided to do something about it and to take a stand. In a show of unity, the girls took action to show their school that the “boys will be boys” culture would not be tolerated, or accepted, anymore.

According to The Washington Post, which first reported the story, the boys created the list more than a year ago, but when a group of senior girls at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in Maryland learned of the list in early March, the girls told a school administrator about it.

The female students had initially felt betrayed and felt an overwhelming sense of insecurity upon finding out about the list.

Jane Corcoran, a student at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, said that seeing the number next to her name on the list, “down to the hundredth place,” was “kind of seeing all your insecurities put together, and put into a number.”

Fellow student Nicola Schmidt, who was one of the first girls to find out about the list, told ABC’s Good Morning America, “When I first heard about it I was a little disgusted by it because I think that girls should be able to go to school without being constantly objectified.”

The students were upset that their male counterparts didn’t respect them for their worth and that they only saw them for their physical appearances.

“It was the last straw, for us girls, of this ‘boys will be boys’ culture,” one of the students, Yasmin Behbehani, told the Post. “We’re the generation that is going to make a change.”

So the girls took it upon themselves to demand change from their peers and school administrators.

Dozens of female students gathered in the assistant principal’s office, where they said they “should be able to learn in an environment without the constant presence of objectification and misogyny,” the Post reports.

Their action lead to a meeting with all of the senior class who in their International Baccalaureate program, the group in which the list was distributed. The meeting took place on March 8, International Women’s Day, and they facilitated a discussion about the list. Ultimately, the boys apologized for making the list.

Realizing that this was a moment to implement great change, the female students decided to work with those that created the list to design a school-wide approach to the issue of toxic masculinity and make an impact on the school climate.

“I think our goal is not to approach this issue as victims versus victimizers, but more as we are leaders of this school,” Gabriella Capizzi, who was not on the list but joined her classmates in their efforts, said. “We’re seniors with two months left, and we can really make a positive change on the culture at this school, and not only this school but this society.”

Feeling it was important to get everyone involved and incorporate the boys so this sort of behavior wouldn’t happen in the future, the female students decided to hold weekly, co-ed, discussions, ABC News reports.

“What we’ve learned for the most part is that all of the guys have actually shown interest and want to be able to understand that this is something that should not happen,” Capizzi said, adding that many of them did not know the harm they did because “the culture has kind of raised them to not know.”

Capizzi said they found that “they’re all willing to learn, and education is probably the most influential part of this.”

According to the Bethesda Beat, the students are also preparing a pop-up museum on “cultural toxicity,” which will contain exhibits about the list. The exhibit will be open for three days starting on April 26th.  

Behbehani said she is “grateful” that this opportunity has “arisen for us to be able to come together and realize the society and the kind of climate that we live in, and also realize that it’s changing and we’re changing with it.”