How vandalism at Christchurch Boys’ High school launched a new community of fourth-wave activists. How women get heard.
Sexual assault. Sexual harassment. Rape. These are problems women have always had to face. These problems don’t just occur in dark alleys at night. What the chalking of Christchurch Boys’ High school has proven is that these issues are also part of everyday life. On March 21st 2021 three members of Christchurch Girls High School (CGHS) vandalised Christchurch Boys High School (CBHS). They chalked statements about consent, sexual harassment and LGBTQ+ issues on the walls and footpaths of CBHS. The chalked statements were subsequently taken down on the Monday immediately following. Not by staff, but by students of CBHS.
Photos from : ‘Graffiti at Christchurch Boys’ High School highlights Rainbow and women’s rights‘. By Hanna McCallum and Jody O’Callaghan.
Prior to the chalking CGHS students had reached out for support from their school administration over these issues. The ‘vandalism’ was an attempt to raise the issues these CGHS students were facing. This was the result of a final straw moment as you will. This was not an unprovoked rage of the moment action. The chalking was planned, as said by one of the vandals. “We were sick of not being listened to so we decided to do something CBHS had no choice but to see. Personally, CGHS is full of people I absolutely love and adore, and almost everyone I know at CGHS has a story about harassment or assault. It’s really just heartbreaking. It was sort of a ‘we’ve had enough, you WILL listen’ type of moment. We made the plan on Friday after doing some legal research as to what we could and couldn’t do and went to CBHS on Sunday. “
After the chalking, the vandals started an Instagram account named ‘chchgirlsaresickofyourshit‘ (later known as culturechchange). The account was to raise awareness of sexual assaults faced by CGHS students. This was quickly met with backlash from both CBHS and CGHS students. The account quickly amassed followers. The vandalism quickly raised media attention. News organisations began covering the event. One example is this article published on Stuff ‘Graffiti at Christchurch Boys’ High School highlights Rainbow and women’s rights‘ by Hanna McCallum and Jody O’Callaghan.
The vandals received no formal punishment from CGHS, with the administration sympathizing with the vandals message. Actions were then taken by CGHS and CBHS to address the vandals concerns. Both schools worked together to address these issues. CGHS immediately held an assembly to address the chalking. While they renounced the vandals actions, they also made effort to make clear they can offer support. Opening up communication lines that were not there before. CGHS also allowed a protest on schoolgrounds over sexual assault. This protest attracted large media attention.
CBHS also had an assembly after the chalking, to try address the behaviors exhibited by CBHS students. The CBHS School Board also had a meeting with the vandals, in which the vandals concerns were formally raised with the administration. Individual teachers at both schools also made their own actions. Some teachers were supportive of the vandals cause, others were against. At CGHS some teachers tried to get students to unfollow the vandals Instagram account. At CBHS, some teachers tried to discourage students from following the new anti accounts against CGHS Instagram. Across both schools there was varied opinions, just as there was varied opinion amongst the students. After the chalking vandalism what emerged, was a new community working together to make cultural change. ‘chchgirlsaresickofyourshit‘ would continue to engage with political activism through protest, talks, Instagram activism and further chalking (for a fundraiser for the Battered Women’s Trust).
Recommended Further Reading:
- Interview with the vandals
- culturechchange Instagram account. https://www.instagram.com/culturechchange/
- Graffiti at Christchurch Boys’ High School highlights Rainbow and women’s rights. By Hanna McCallum and Jody O’Callaghan. https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/124616763/graffiti-at-christchurch-boys-high-school-highlights-rainbow-and-womens-rights.
- Social media in general (a collection of screenshots and photos)
All photos from ‘Graffiti at Christchurch Boys’ High School highlights Rainbow and women’s rights‘. By Hanna McCallum and Jody O’Callaghan. https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/124616763/graffiti-at-christchurch-boys-high-school-highlights-rainbow-and-womens-rights.
Published: August 20th, 2021
Last modified: January 5th, 2022
Cite as: Luisa Dewar, Christchurch Girls Are Sick of Your S*** – Sexual Assault and Christchurch girls , Womens History of New Zealand, Last modified January 2022, https://atomic-temporary-193744190.wpcomstaging.com/christchurch-girls-are-sick-of-your-s—sexual-assault-and-christchurch-girls/