Clare, a homeschooled student from Virginia, recently attended the Richmond Homeschool Prom (yep, it’s a thing) all dressed up and excited for the night ahead:
Her dress was beautiful, but soon after she arrived at the dance, she was whisked away by one of the organizers:
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.
She had followed all the rules set out by the organizers. Her dress was an appropriate length and she was barely dancing (much less dancing provocatively)… but she might have caused boys to think “impure thoughts” so she deserved to be punished, the logic went.
Not only did the organizers kick Clare out of her own prom (along with her friends, who stood by her side), they haven’t even given most of the group members a refund.
Callie Beusman at Jezebel explains the obvious problem with this sort of patriarchal mindset:
… “impropriety” is always defined from a male perspective: the “below the fingertip” length stipulation was merely a stand-in for the real, tacit dress code, which is “Don’t wear anything that a dude might find ‘distracting,’ i.e., boner-inducing.” Implicit in this logic is the idea that women don’t have any ownership over their bodies or any control over how they’re read — in short, that if men deem something “provocative,” it’s automatically harlot-garb.
Speaking of which, how come the fathers ogling the teenage women weren’t kicked out for their behavior?
Despite the humiliating setback, Clare had a message for all the other young women who may find themselves in similar situations:
… people are responsible for their own thoughts, desires and actions, and it doesn’t fucking matter if you’re just swaying along with music, or if you’re grinding up on your date, or not even dancing. You are a person, with a soul, and with potential and with purpose, and the way that other people treat you, should never be based on how you dance, or dress or talk.