I left high school ten years ago, a fact that makes me very happy (a columnist in our university paper once pointed out that no matter how bad your life gets you can always reassure yourself 'it could be worse, I could be still in High School' and in my early twenties I would cheer myself up reasonably regularly with that thought). But I went to school in Wellington, so I still see girls in the blue of my old school uniform reasonably regularly (in New Zealand public schools can have uniforms and can also be single sex, my high school was single sex and it had a blue uniform).
Wellington East is the poor girls school in Wellington, or at least it was when I went there, there's been some general gentrification since then. But I started school in 1991, the year of benefit cuts and ending of the Awards, and there was a lot of poverty. People knew it as well, shopkeepers and so on, if you went
to a shop in a Blue Uniform they'd keep an extra eye on you.
I'm writing this because I was talking about high school with a guy who had recently left Rongotai (the male version of Wellington East). When I mentioned that I'd gone to Wellington East he started a chant I'd forgotten about (if I ever knew about it in the first place, paying attention to the world around me wasn't my forte in high school):
East BeastsTen years later I found it funny. But it reminded me that this is what boys, particularly those at all-boys schools, chanted at East Girls. In a way I'm impressed at how much they managed to pack into 9 words, at how many different degrading sexist and racist attitudes can be conveyed in so little time.
Eating all the Georgie Pies
If you say East Beast with the right sneer it makes clear that the person you're talking to is both repulsive and beneath you, and also too sexually available.
The rest of the chant carries the repulsive theme, but makes it clear that this repulsion is about race and class. Fatness is a sign of poverty in New Zealand (as it is in most developed countries), it's also much more common amongst Maori and Pacific Islanders (who also tend to be poor). George Pies was a New Zealand fast-food chain, which was notable for being cheaper than McDonalds (it closed down a number of years ago).
That's not all, the person who chanted to me, told me that they used to chant it at McEvedy.
McEvedy Sheild is an athletics cup that the four regional all boys schools compete for. It's an all day event, and all the boys from all the schools go along to cheer on the men who complete. It was a big deal in the secondary school calendar, even at a girls school, you'd see the boys whooping around with painted faces. We were under dire warnings not to wag to go watch, although each year some girls did (which is depressing enough, if you're going to skip school please do something more interesting that watch your boyfriend run around a track).
I don't know if the person who told me that that boys from all 4 schools would do this chant in unison was exaggerating, I hope he was. But the thought of 3,000 boys chanting "East Beast, Thunder Thighs, who ate all the Georgie Pies" creeps me out. The idea that they would watch sport (that bastion of masculinity), compete with each other, but then bond over degrading women makes perfect sense in this society we live in.