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Wisconsin high school requires picture of dress before dance

by Nicholas Mazur - Copy Desk Chief
Tue, Sep 26th 2017 08:00 pm

Let’s just get right to it, shall we? Stop sexualizing high school girls. Great, article, thanks for showing up, see you next week.

I wish it were that easy, so let’s actually get to it. Wisconsin, besides its stereotypical association with cheese, has recently added a dash of scandal to its wheelhouse. According to USA Today, a high school in Pewaukee is requiring those students wearing dresses to the homecoming dance must be required to send a picture of the dresses beforehand.

The goal of course to the make sure that none of the attendees are too revealing in their attire. Clearly aiming it squarely at the female population of the school. Needless to say many students and even parents are less than enthused by this campaign by the school. According to USA Today, one of the parents, Rebecca Shepherd, spoke out against the action, “The girls are essentially being held responsible for the wayward thoughts (administrators) think boys have,” Shepherd said.

Thanks Rebecca, at least someone gets it. Women are often required to take the burdens in life that men refuse to. It is simply a byproduct of centuries old biases. Women have always been simultaneously viewed as wicked and innocently naïve, strong beyond imagination and weak to the point of being a burden on men. In theory this incident is no different.

We beg women to show off their bodies for our enjoyment, we drool before them. Yet, when it is quite convenient we shine the light on them and say they ought to be ashamed for putting such lustful notions into the heads of our young men.

What can we do though? After all, as I just said, it is not any one man or woman's fault. It is simply the result of hundreds upon hundreds of years of inherited behavior. What is there to do? Well to answer that question let me ask another, if you wanted to go from New York City to London, would you hollow out a large log and fashion a canoe out of it and ride that across the pond? Of course not, you’d buy a plane ticket and enjoy some delicious airplane pretzels and even sneak in a nap on the way.

My point being is we figured out how to do things better. That’s what we do as a species, we do things better. We should be able to put some heads together and figure out a way to treat women better. The problem is that as a result of the dynamic between men and women that has formed over the centuries, we do not as a culture understand where the accountability needs to be placed, as Shepherd pointed out.

If your child takes a cookie from the jar before dinner, you don’t blame the cookie for looking so delicious, you blame your child for not controlling their impulse to grab the cookie. Women should not be held accountable to looking the way they do, men should be held accountable for not learning how to look at a women and see something that they are not inalienably entitled to. But you cannot blame the learner more than the teacher. That’s where the administration in good old Pewaukee comes in. Telling girls that they need to be constantly monitored for the clothing firmly rests the blame for men’s actions on the girls’ shoulders. 

Pewaukee needs to hold it male students accountable. Out in the real world women wear whatever they want. Boys have to learn sometime that it’s not okay to objectify women in revealing clothing, or else they grow up and become the creepy men that we detest so much. Instead we’re teaching girls they need to be ashamed of their bodies, and guilty when boys cannot control themselves around girls.

When we stop policing girls for their bodies and start policing boys for their accountability, there will be change. But until then, until we shift the blame to its proper place, we’ll be stuck with situations like this one. Boy that learn in high school that women and their bodies are to be ogled at and controlled. Then of course they grow up, get jobs, and tell high school girls they have to send them pictures of their homecoming dresses. What a cycle that is.

 Change can come about, though. According to the Journal Sentinel, a similar action was taken by a school in Minnesota, but was rescinded shortly after due to outrage by students and parents. So there it is. My bright spot ending. Sometimes, if you just get mad enough, you can change the world a little for the better.

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