And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They’re quite aware of what they’re going through – “Changes”, lyrics by David Bowie
I sometimes wonder what adults in charge of youth are thinking. Have they forgotten what it is like to be an adolescent? Do they understand the realities of attraction between males and females? Are they aware of the realities of human sexuality? I ask these questions because an old high school buddy of mine who still lives in the area reported on Facebook that a local school district is imposing restrictions on girls’s clothing. Specifically, v-neck tops and sweat pants. As the above photo of a woman in a v-neck demonstrates, it is obvious why they are now banned. Or maybe not. The reasons stated for the change are simple: measures to prevent teen pregnancy. During a time when the teen pregnancy rate continues to drop as shown on this graph:
In an effort, then, to prevent what is already a declining “problem”, the Athens, PA Area School District appears to be adopting the notion that girls wearing clothing that some might consider revealing, provocative, or perhaps just easy to remove (the only thing about sweat pants that seems remotely alluring). Adopting this position places the onus for preventing pregnancy squarely on the shoulders – and legs – of teen girls. It makes girls’s appearance the reason they are becoming pregnant at the lowest rate recorded. It also assumes teen boys, helpless in the face, or perhaps cleavage, of teen girls find themselves a drooling tumescent mass fixated on coitus at any cost.
There is so much wrong with this, I’m not even sure where to begin. Except, perhaps, with the fact that a school districts’s main purpose is to educate our children and youth. What lesson does such a policy teach kids? Beyond the on-going social conditioning that females are (sometimes, perhaps often) unwitting objects of male desire simply because of their dress, I’m not sure what is being taught. Certainly not the realities of sexual desire, or even human sexuality in general. That some people continue to believe the possible glimpse of cleavage sends your typical male into thoughtless lust and a demand for sexual congress is probably among the more ridiculous ideas out there. By not teaching boys and young men how to control their natural pleasure when confronted by girls, we are perpetuating a system in which girls are responsible for their own victimization.
It would be nice if Athens Schools taught sex ed in such a way that it included promotion of safer sex, contraception, and the realities both of physical desire as well as how the act is consummated, relieving from girls the onus of preventing a possible unwanted pregnancy because they might, under certain conditions, reveal more of themselves than some might think preferable. It might also be a good idea for the Athens Area School District Board to look at the ongoing decline in teen pregnancy rates and consider the possibility they are fighting a battle American society as a whole has been winning for a quarter century. I do not think it possible that there has been a sudden uptick in pregnancies locally due to the prevalence of somewhat revealing clothing. Of course, I might be wrong. That doesn’t justify punishing girls for their appearance.