Prom: Slut Shaming Edition

finger-wagging

One thing that keeps popping up again and again in my social media is the hand wringing over prom, specifically the increased “sluttiness” of girl’s dresses.  Now I’m kind of at an odd age for all this, I’m quite a few years removed from going to prom myself, but I don’t have any children of my own.  But there was one story in particular that really resonated with me, that of a young woman named Clare who was kicked out of prom.  So let me get one thing straight first:

The Rules of School Dances Are Bullshit

There are two completely arbitrary reasons girls get kicked out of dances:  for having dresses that are too revealing, and for dancing too sexy.  I was kicked out more than once due to the later, but I got in trouble quiet a bit for the former when I was in high school.  The problem with many dress codes is that they impact girls with specific body types more than others.  I’m leggy and have a big butt, just like Clare.  This ends up making damn near everything I wear look overly sexual and way shorter than what it looks like on a mannequin or straight sized model.  Seriously even a professional pencil skirt which is supposed to look like this:

ends up looking like this:

This is part of the reason why Clare was removed from the prom.  She was told that the dress code for the dance was that all dresses had to be longer than one’s fingertips.  This is a rule that she complied with, as shown:

However, according to Clare, she was treated as though she had disobeyed this rule as soon as she arrived

On my way in Mrs. D (one of the two ladies organizing the prom this year) stopped me and said, “honey, that dress is too short.”  I said, “what is the rule?”  She said, “fingertip length” and I put my arms down by my sides and showed her that it was fingertip length.  After which she made a face at me and was like, “well make sure it stays pulled down, it’s too short.”

To me, this seems like she was singled out as she does recount that there were other girls who had shorter dresses than her.  But things went from bad to worse.

We were also a little grossed out by all the dads on the balcony above the dance floor, ogling and talking amongst themselves.  We weren’t dancing, but swaying with the music and talking and enjoying ourselves, when Mrs. D again approached me, and gestured me off the dance floor.  She took me into a corner in the hall way, with another woman, (who I’m assuming was a parent/chaperone) and told me that some of the dads who were chaperoning had complained that my dancing was too provocative, and that I was going to cause the young men at the prom to think impure thoughts.  At this point I said to her that I hadn’t been dancing at all!  Much less seductively, and that even if I had been being inappropriate, they should issue a warning instead of just kicking me out.

Excuse me?  Why were there so many dads there in the first place?  At my own school dances there were never many adults present, maybe 10 teachers for over a hundred students.  It seems unnecessary and a set up for some majorly creepy shit to go down.  Furthermore, even if she was dancing “inappropriately” she should not be held responsible for the impure thoughts of others.  Maybe this would be an appropriate time to mention the fact that this was a prom for homeschooled kids in the South, and many of the parents likely chose to homeschool for religious reasons.  Regardless, no one forces you to think about sex.  If the young men or the fathers there were imagining screwing this young woman, it’s not her fault, nor her responsibility.  She should not be kicked out for having the audacity to have a body that someone may lust over.  What kind of example is that sending?  To young men it says that they cannot control themselves, that instead women need to be controlled to prevent men’s feelings.  Part of growing up means that you need to learn how to take responsibility for your own thoughts and actions.  We all know that teens have a lot of hormones, but they need to learn to control their urges and express sexuality in a healthy way.  Forcing a girl out of a dance to prevent boy’s dirty thoughts tells them they don’t have to learn those things, that girls are to blame.  And to girls it says that their bodies are dirty and sinful.  That they are not allowed to dress or dance or exist for themselves, that instead it is their job to safeguard men’s wants and desires.  On some level I think it is telling them that men are overly lustful and dangerous, that they cannot control their primitive desires.  Can the parents and administrators not see how messed these messages are?  As Clare said herself:

 I’m not responsible for some perverted 45 year old dad lusting after me because I have a sparkly dress on and a big ass for a teenager.  And if you think I am, then maybe you’re part of the problem.

I absolutely think that Clare has been wronged here and give her much praise for her ability to stick up for herself and not just take this lying down.  However, I think there is another aspect of the story that perhaps has not been covered as much.  Here is a picture of Clare and her date:

Did perhaps the fact that she is in an interracial relationship have any impact on the decision to kick her out?  Truthfully this is not something I have an answer to, and I don’t know the amount of racial tension in Richmond, VA.  But I think it’s something to take into consideration.  Regardless, she was treated unfairly and at minimum, the costs of tickets for her and all of the party who left with her should be refunded and she should be given a formal apology.

 

        Teen girl kicked out of prom because dads said her dress conjured ‘impure thoughts’

Natalina graduated from the University of North Dakota with a BA in English and minor in Gender and Women's Studies. She is currently pursuing her medical degree in Iowa. She is a sexual assault and domestic violence victim advocate as well as a LGBT activist. She is very interested in feminism and pop culture. When she is not in school or online she is spending time with her husband, playing video games, or playing with her 2 cats.
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