In this article I discuss the relationship between corporal punishment and gender in two public schools in New Delhi. Women teachers beat male students, justifying it as the only way to get “respect” from them and as a way of maintaining “obedience” and “control.” They emphasized that male teachers did not need to hit male students, as these teachers were respected simply because they were men. Both students and teachers agreed that “boys needed beating,” but that girls were inherently obedient and should not be hit. Drawing on scholarly literature, news sources, and observation of and interviews with teachers, students, and parents, I show how corporal punishment in schools is not simply punishment for in-school wrongdoing. Rather, corporal punishment demonstrates how ideologies of femininity, masculinity, age, and power are constituted through everyday, normalized violence against youth, and reinforced through the school system.


I would like to thank Virginia Dominguez, Meena Khandelwal, Laurie Graham, Mike Chibnik, Philip Lutgendorf, Chaise LaDousa, Ameya Balsekar, Cristina Ortiz, Susie Donaldson, Tony Pomales, Daniel Proctor, and my audience at the University of Iowa’s South Asian Studies Program seminar for their comments on earlier versions of this article. Thanks are also due to the reviewers and editors at Landscapes of Violence for their comments and suggestions.



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