My high school’s administration entertained complaints from a couple of Freshman girls about the overtly sexual nature of the dancing. So grinding makes fourteen-year-old girls uncomfortable. That makes sense. However, the school has made an absurd assessment of why young people dance the way we do. Meetings with the Student Council concerning the next school-sponsored dance have revealed some common notions amongst administrators that are pretty out of touch with students.
First of all, there will be a sexual harassment assembly to address what is being considered a serious problem. Characterizing mutually “inappropriate” dancing as “sexual harassment” is problematic. And if the rhetoric is going to include harassment as motivator for school dance reform, the measures taken to propel this reform in combat against harassment are even more so. A new dance dress code for girls, requiring hemlines to fall past the knees, implies that an issue of harassment is somehow rooted in the way that girls present themselves. This is a dangerous message, resembling accusations of women “asking for it” in debates over sexual assault.
Short skirts was one highlighted cause. Another was hip hop music. An administrator proposed an omission of all rap and hip hop songs from the playlist. That adds a racist hue to an already anti-feminist approach to a remedy for the greivances.
Having attending “Native American”-themed school dances, I cannot say that this is the first time we have had a problematic theme. However, winter formal’s “Mad Men” theme, based off of the tv drama with an all white cast set in the 1960s, is certainly the most ironic. Apparently, they want to us to dress like housewives from half a century ago and distill our music culture of traditionally black genres.