The past year has been enlivened and simultaneously made awful by report after report of girls’ clothing criticized, banned, and all but torn off them by school officials eager to note that nearby boys – and some male teachers – are critically distracted by a bare shoulder or the glimpse of a leg.
It’s sad. It’s ridiculous, It’s also terribly ignorant and naïve.
While these people — possibly well-intentioned on some level . . . the 19th century one — go after the local girls, to what must be the amazement and confusion of their male classmates, what in heaven’s name do they, the officials, imagine the boys have been watching the night before? Perhaps, in the case of early risers, that very morning before classes began?
Do they believe the male-owned phones and laptops were turned to Election 2016 news with its dueling speeches, lies, bravado? How about national tragedies like cyclones and floods?
Sports! Perhaps the boys were watching sports and reviewing how unlikely the Leicester City English Premiership victory really was – at 5000-to-1 odds, a bona fide miracle – or counting down the days until North American ice hockey’s Stanley Cup.
Get real. Chances are good that an unhealthy proportion of middle-school and high-school boys are watching internet porn in their off hours. There, the featured bodies wear nothing at all.
If teenage guys are getting stiffies (haven’t they always?), it’s much more to do with their imaginations and what they watched on their iPads at midnight than what the girl in algebra class is wearing.
I offer for evidence a segment of J. K. Rowling’s highly praised The Casual Vacancy — in this section, the two high-school boys, Andrew and Fats, live in a charming small town in the west of England. One has teachers for parents; the other, a nurse and a printing plant manager:
“Andrew knew what naked women looked like, because there were no parental controls on the computer in Fats’ conversion bedroom. Together they had explored as much online porn as they could access for free: shaven vulvas; pink labia pulled wide to show darkly gaping slits; spread buttocks revealing the puckered buttons of anuses; thickly lipsticked mouths, dripping semen . . . Andrew was unsure whether he was more excited or repulsed (whips and saddles, harnesses, ropes, hoses; and once, at which even Fats had not managed to laugh, close-ups of metal-bolted contraptions, and needles protruding from soft flesh, and women’s face frozen, screaming) . . ..”
Who in their right mind would believe a classmate’s shoulder blade or lower thigh could distract after that?
Recall, too, that images once seen remain in the brain forever, especially images of horror or seduction.
In fact, it makes more sense to protect girls from the corrupting influence of boys and male administrators (the latter no doubt enjoying their own favorite online images) than the reverse. As witness, the rise in male adolescents’ requests for unusual sexual behaviors; the pressure on girls to audibly perform like porn stars; and the increase in labiaplasties, even in teenagers.
To those teachers and administrators who are all too willing to enforce what are sometimes ridiculous, humiliating dress codes that focus more on girls than on boys – shame on you! Take the log from your own eye before you object to the mote in another person’s. Recognize that, in the 21st century, what you object to has nothing to do with distraction – as if a knee could compete with “pink labia pulled wide to show darkly gaping slits” – and everything to do with blame and control.
Honi soit qui mal y pense: Shamed be the person who thinks evil exists where it does not.