Dads “ogle” young girl at prom… and she gets kicked out? 

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You may already have heard about Clare Ettinger, a 17 year old girl who attended a prom for homeschooled students in Portman, Richmond. She was kicked out by a parental chaperone. In a guest blog adeptly titled, Fuck the Patriarchy which went viral, she said this was due to “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.”

As the journalist and feminist Charles Clymer stated in response, “If you’re at a prom, and you’re told a girl’s attire is making men there uncomfortable, the correct response is asking the men to leave.” But apparently this 17 year old girl posed such a threat to the male minds in the room that she simply had to go.

Clare Ettinger was not only accused of corrupting boy’s thoughts at the prom, she had also been accused of her dress not adhering to the proms dress code. Ettinger is 5’9, rather tall for a 17 year old woman, and while her dress did meet the dress code, it was singled out due to her appearing to be “more leggy” than the other women at the prom. As Ettinger wrote in her blog, “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.” Ettinger’s own sexuality as a woman made these grown men uncomfortable. Perhaps the real issue these god fairing fathers had, was trying to hide their shame-boners. As Callie Beusman wrote,

‘We’re taught to think that women’s bodies are by definition impure and that displaying them is automatically salacious and obscene. And we localize that “obscenity” in women’s behaviour, which is patently ridiculous. In this situation, a bunch of fully-grown men were gawking at a teenager’s body, and she’s the one accused of being “inappropriate”? Seriously?’

Making females responsible for the naughty or impure thoughts of others feeds into a culture that polices women’s behaviours.  It shames them when they fail to act or dress in a way that adheres to entrenched expectations of how a women should behave. Slut shaming leads to victim blaming as Kelly Wallace of CNN said,  ‘…that isn’t much of a stretch from “she asked for it” when we blame victims of sexual assault for what they were wearing. Are the thoughts and actions of young men and their fathers really her responsibility?’

Many other schools and Universities have enforced dress codes on women, for example Cameroon’s University of Buea put in place a strict dress code predominantly aimed at young women, one University lecture posted the following rules:

Female students’ dresses should be at knee-level and not [above]. Dresses should not be transparent. They should put on breast wears … Dresses should cover all sensitive parts, like breasts, lower belly, waists, buttocks and, of course, thigh[s]. Trousers should not be too tight and very short.

The University claimed the dress code is necessary to keep students from getting raped.  Clothes do not get women raped this is a myth, 90% of rapes are carried out against women by people they know. As Beusmen said, “Just another reminder that victim-blaming is a global problem, but common sense — and focusing on the rapist rather than the victim — are a global solution.”

Teaching women to cover up so men will not have to fight their sexual urges is ludicrous and it feeds into toxic ideas of masculinity. It implies boys and men cannot control their own sexual urges or thoughts – this is a damaging and pervasive idea taught to men and women. It is an idea that is also insulting and demeaning to both sexes.

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It tells women they are to blame if they are raped and it tells men that if they rape it can be blamed on her. After all men, can’t help themselves when a pretty lady in a tight dress is around – this is a dominant [false] orthodoxy enforced in our society.

Calling sexual thoughts or finding another person sexually attractive “impure” implies there is something dirty or unclean about it – making sex or even thinking about sex taboo.

The less healthy and open conversations young people are allowed to have in relation to sex the more blurred lines are drawn in relation to sex and consent. Thinking about sex is healthy and normal. I spent many hours thinking about penises and sex and what might get me off as a teenager – clearly it is not just boys who have “impure thoughts”. What is wrong, is telling young people that sexual thoughts are “impure”, while at the same time they are saturated with hyper-sexualised and objectifying images of female bodies by a mass media that uses sex to sell anything from fucking soft drinks to socks.

The only people who deserve to be shamed for their behaviour are the Dad’s with their shame-boners and Miss. D for kicking Clare out of her own prom, this is just another classic example of slut-shaming at its worst.

44 COMMENTS

  1. Chloe, this says more about the nature of (mostly) fundamentalist religious gun loving nutters in the US who choose to have their children home schooled than it is about patriarchy in general society.

    Home schooling protects their kids from exposure to satanic evils such as the Theory of Evolution and the Scientific Method, critcal thought or anything else that challenges their narrow world view. I’m totally unsurprised by this story but won’t fall into the mistake of thinking it is representative of any group other than that mentioned.

    • Nope.

      It’s pretty normal in mainstream NZ society.

      Witness the discussion after RoastBusters. The blame shifting from the rapists, to what the girls were wearing, how much they had to drink, and why their parents let them out of the house in the first place.

      As a woman I’ve had this leveled at me. Here in NZ. I’ve been told to cover up, lest some man have “impure” thoughts about me.

      Don’t kid yourself that these attitudes are not widespread. As a man you’ve never been on the receiving end, so you would not be as likely to notice as a woman who has.

      • It’s a stretch to connect the Roast Busters to the American example. In the second case, you have a group of religious puritans whose standard of sexually provocative dress is likely to be quite different from that of the community at large.

        From the post:

        “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 every school ball I attended and every school ball I have ever been aware of, it is the object of most of the young women there to dress so as to cause the young men in attendance to think impure thoughts. From the article, this young woman appears to have been carrying on this tradition, and the tradition of skirting the rules on acceptability of dress. I would also hazard a guess that a few people snuck in hip flasks or spiked the punch.

        It’s also as a matter of fact pretty hard to dress in such a manner as to cause only young men to think impure thoughts, so there’s that as well.

        There is a general problem with women not being able to dress any way in our society without having their attire evaluated in a sexual manner. Yes, that is a real problem. But school balls are one of the many cases where women are almost always trying to have their attire and themselves evaluated in a sexual manner, so it’s a spectacularly poor example.

        How are people supposed to take feminist critiques of society seriously when nobody polices such misfires as this article?

        • “complained that my dancing was too provocative” – which was truly amazing because she says she hadn’t been dancing at all.

          So why did you go to (what I am inferring) so many school balls? A passionate love of dancing? Or…?

          Might you remember that most girls tend to mature earlier than most boys? And they also need practice at sorting what’s available? In fact, it’s far more important for them to do so than for some callow fellow on his early adventures.

          And the opportunities for checking out the manners, morals, and decencies of blokes are shrinking by the year.

        • “It’s a stretch to connect the Roast Busters to the American example.”

          No. Not at all. There are so many similarities.

          As I said in my original comment, the idea that girls should change their clothes to prevent male behaviour? Exactly the same idea dude. Do you not notice this in NZ? How blind are you exactly?

          Exactly the same concept illustrated in RoastBusters and pretty much every rape case in NZ.

          Exactly the same concept TOLD TO ME PERSONALLY. More than once.

          But you wouldn’t count that. It’s just one woman’s experience of sexism… against… your obviously more experienced knowledge of sexism.

          Try this:

          http://everydaysexism.tumblr.com/

          • As I said in my original comment, the idea that girls should change their clothes to prevent male behaviour? Exactly the same idea dude. Do you not notice this in NZ? How blind are you exactly?

            And your example in the article was an example where the explicit purpose of dressing in a certain way is to cause exactly that male behaviour – that’s what the women in this case are trying to do.

            I accept without reservation the claim that it is difficult for women to dress any way at all without some sexual spin being put on it. Like many people I think it would be better if women had a choice between dressing in a way that attracted sexual evaluation and dressing in a way that did not (like men do).

            But why use as an example a social occasion in which almost all the young women are deliberately trying to dress in a sexually attractive manner. That’s like saying “Those men are thinking impure thoughts about me when I deliberately dressed so as to make it that men would think impure thoughts about me”.

            • I did not give a specific example. I pointed out that the concept (note that word) is the same.

              Furthermore, it is YOUR interpretation that girls dress in a sexually attractive manner when they dress for a ball / prom.

              Not all of them do.

              Many of them dress for approval of other girls, NOT men or boys. Ever think about that?

              And anyway, that’s all completely immaterial, because men and boys are completely in control of their impulses because they’re civilised human beings. And if they feel “out of control” because an attractive female is dressed attractively right in front of them then they can remove themselves, or restrain themselves from, you know, raping her or otherwise committing any kind of crime.

              And if they can’t? Then they’re not fit for civilised society.

    • Hi Richard,

      As a home educator for many years, and one that has stood on regional and national organisations for the community, I have a clarification I wish to make. I’m not sure if I am assuming a connection in your comment that does not exist, but just want to ensure a distinction is made.

      It is not home education that produces this kind of group think – it is those who have an intolerant view of society and often a fundamental religious belief. They exist within both the schooled community and the home educated one.

      I home educated for a variety of reasons, one of which was to introduce my children to a wider variety of viewpoints and people than what they would have been exposed to at school. There exists a full rainbow spectrum of home education styles and philosophies, – just as there are a range of different schools for students to attend – with religious beliefs and accompanying guidelines for dress, to charter schools and public schools.

      I have had enough contact with home educators to know that there are those within the community who do have beliefs that I think restricts their children – but I also know and have contact with – children with the same parental restrictions and direction who attend school.

      Home Education does not equal Religious/moral fundamentalism.

      • Molly, I think you will find a huge over-representation of justification for home schooling is based on religious grounds in the USA, compared to other reasons. Especially so when purely physical remoteness to schools is removed from the equation.

        I have no objection to your obsevations in regard to New Zealand which has a strikingly different make up in respect to religious and supernatural belief than the USA.

        • It was a home schooled girl that was accused of being provocative by being female while following the school dances dress code.

          She was a girl who followed the dress guide lines and still got creeped on by older married men. Your weird misreading as this as the fault of religious home schooling is utterly pointless.

      • “Home Education does not equal Religious/moral fundamentalism.”

        True it does not, but I am sure the ratio of religious/moral fundamentalists is a lot higher in home education than in the general population. And remember that this story is about the US not NZ.

  2. Making females responsible for the naughty or impure thoughts of others feeds into a culture that polices women’s behaviours. It shames them when they fail to act or dress in a way that adheres to entrenched expectations of how a women should behave.

    If I turned up at work wearing assless chaps, I would get fired.

    • This story does not feature in a workplace nor were there any ‘assless chaps’ try again.

      • The point is that everyone has to live up to others’ expectations of how they should dress. That alone doesn’t make the point the author is trying (and failing) to make.

  3. I think there are much worse examples of this sort of mentality out there. The whole requirement by Islamic law for woman to dress modestly should be the first to undergo a crtitical attack by western feminists.

    • No.

      And don’t tell western women how to do feminism.

      Islamic women are quite capable of fighting their own battles. They don’t need us to jump in and “save them”. How colonial.

      Western women have our own issues to deal with. And we’re dealing.

      • Christian women are quite capable of fighting their own battles. They don’t need us to jump in and “save them”. How colonial.

      • And don’t tell western women how to do feminism.

        What if you are doing it wrong?

        Islamic women are quite capable of fighting their own battles. They don’t need us to jump in and “save them”. How colonial.

        Translation: “Objecting to FGM and the subjugation of women in third world countries is less important to me than complaining about the size of video game characters’ breasts”.

        • FGM is very different to Islamic dress – the way you have linked FGM to an argument about Islamic norms is colonial again. FGM is not an Islamic practice.
          Also, Gosman’s reference to Islamic women’s dress is just silly. There was a veiled revolution in Egypt in the late 70’s where the educated women reclaimed the veil and turned their back on Western fashion. In many instances traditional dress can be an act of feminism

        • So I’m not “allowed” according to you to complain about any of the sexism and abuse I’ve suffered in NZ unless I’m complaining about Islamic dress or female genital mutilation first? Because according to you, they’re SO much more important, I should solve all those problems overseas first before I turn my mind towards possible problems here in NZ?

          Fuck that.

          I’ll do what I need to do to make my life in NZ, and the lives of other women in NZ, better.

          And I’ll define what I mean by feminsim for me in NZ.

          Not you.

          And NO MAN ever is going to tell me how to do feminism. Ever.

          I suggest you start reading dude. Educate yourself.

          Start with Kristen Schildt’s “Just One Of The Guys”.

          Start with this:

          http://everydaysexism.tumblr.com/

          • And NO MAN ever is going to tell me how to do feminism. Ever.

            Funny old me. When I consider an opinion, I happen to think it correct to evaluate the opinion on its own merits, and not depending on the gender of the person who expressed it.

            Dismissing an opinion because of the gender of the person who expressed it is called sexism. Perhaps you’ve heard of it.

            • “Funny old me. When I consider an opinion, I happen to think it correct to evaluate the opinion on its own merits, and not depending on the gender of the person who expressed it.”

              That’s where you’ve gone wrong. Opinions can have different meaning depending on the context – such as time, place, who the opinion comes from, and who the opinion is about.

            • Completely ignoring the context in which the opinion is presented and completely ignoring the experience from which the opinion originates… when you are a member of the more powerful group and the opinion you deride is originated and from the less powerful group… and you’re telling the less powerful group “you’re doing it wrong”?

              Massive Fail. dude.

              Stop telling me, a woman, how to do feminsim. And don’t tell me I’m doing it wrong. You. Have. No. Idea.

              It’s not just opinion. It’s lived experience and thought as well.

    • It’s of course fascinating that right wing conservative such as gosman replicates old arguments put forward by historical mysogonists colonial bigots.

      Alfred lord Cromer, the British consul general to Egypt for whom the veil was a symbol of the “degradation of women” and definitive proof that “Islam as a social system has been a complete failure.” Was also the founder of the Men’s league for Opposing Women’s Suffrage in England.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Men's_League_for_Opposing_Woman_Suffrage

      Bigots, mysogonists, Gosman have no interest in the plight or history or struggles of Muslim women, they’re just an icon for their bigotry while engaged in colonialism.

      Your deflections are neither well told or new.

      Young girl is kicked out of her school ball by creeping older men= girls fault and what about them brown fellows….

    • Do you mean that this particular issue is not serious enough for TDB?

      Why is that?

      Is it because you see it as a “women’s” issue?

      • Well, as a matter of fact, this story along with the exact same photograph , was covered recently on the Daily Mail website. Spoilt school girls and their mums complaining about being sent home for wearing inappropriate clothing is a regular staple at the Daily Mail.

  4. If I didn’t know better I might have imagined I had stumbled onto a 19th century blog.

    • Why is that George Ryde?
      Men still thought with their trousers in the 19th century.

      They used chastity belts so other men couldn’t get at their women!

  5. More Neanderthal idiot nonsense from the USA. When will these men grow up and start thinking like adults? Purile and very dangerous responses.

  6. “Making females responsible for the naughty impure thoughts of others feeds into a culture that polices women’s behaviors.It shames them when they fail to act or dress in a way that adheres to entrenched expectations of how a woman should behave”

    This is flawed reasoning. Females HAVE to take SOME responsibility for the way they present themselves. (ie should Miley Cyrus be accepted as an “innocent” young woman just doing her own thing?)
    Ok she’s an extreme example , but get my point?

    Re Clare Ettinger , the problem was this:
    1) She is a SCHOOLGIRL, going to a school ball. By her own admission..”I looked hot” .(never mind she says she didn’t look “trashy”)
    Well “HOT” = sexy= Sexually provocative.

    Is this appropriate for a school ball?
    Whatever happened to just looking pretty?
    It’s not her fault, she doesn’t understand, but if it was my daughter I would not have let her go like that.
    Naturally the adults noticed but could not put their finger on why, she somehow stood out & looked inappropriate.
    Her parent(s) is/are to blame. But then they probably don’t have a clue either, which illustrates a problem in general-
    That today’s parents are too busy to protect their kids from outside unhealthy and purely Capitalist driven artificial “popular culture”.
    Sexualising kids/teenagers far too early is just one inevitable and unfortunate result of present day society.

    • As far as I am aware, this girl was not pole dancing or licking a sledgehammer.

      She is 17, she has sexual feelings and desires, she may even want to have sex, god forbid she wants to look hot. Get over it. ‘Pretty’ is what 11 year olds strive to be. Right or wrong, sexualised appearance or not, that doesn’t give men the licence to police how attractive they find her or shame her for having a post-pubescent body.

      Having an attractive female body/presentation does not make you responsible for the sexualising gaze of others.

      “if it was my daughter I would not have let her go like that.” You wouldn’t have let your daughter go to her ball in a dress?

  7. I reckon the trick is, to stop all men all around the world, from thinking first with their trousers.

    It’s almost like they do not fully engage their brain. Ever!

    And it’s not actually physically true that men have most of their braincells in their penis – It’s just that they act as if they do!

    If a woman takes the effort to present herself at her best, and this causes the man to ogle at her, is this her fault? Of course not! It’s up to the man/men, to ‘want’ to learn self-control, and to teach their sons that self-control is very important if they want to get anywhere decent in life.

    Life isn’t all about sex, and men (and some women) need to learn this. I wonder why our school system, and our parents, don’t teach us this as we grow up.
    Life should be all about love, and loving one another.

    My opinion and belief.

  8. It was a very short clingy dress ..add high heels & bright red lipstick-
    um daughter you look kinda like a… call girl . It’s a school ball, not a frigging night club.

    • “It was a very short clingy dress ..add high heels & bright red lipstick- um daughter you look kinda like a… call girl . It’s a school ball, not a frigging night club.”

      Can someone confirm what year this is? My computer says 2014, but the drivel I’m reading on the screen suggests it’s 1950.

  9. In 1950’s there wasn’t rampant sexual promiscuity,soaring teenage pregnancy rates, millions of abortions, soaring rates of STDs, kids having sex at 12, high youth suicide rates, broken families, teenage binge drinking problems, rampant pornography, pedophilia etc ..
    In fact society was a lot more stable, wasn’t it.

    • there were all those things plus massive amounts of homophobia, domestic abuse etc etc – only those too blind to see blame modernity

    • @ Cassie – more secretive, you mean. Domestic violence and sexual abuse existed. It was just done behind closed doors. Just to keep society “a lot more stable”.

    • Cassie, your inconvenient truths are spoiling the baby boomers’ narrative about how they brought down the establishment and changed the world.

  10. What is wrong, is telling young people that sexual thoughts are “impure”, while at the same time they are saturated with hyper-sexualised and objectifying images of female bodies by a mass media that uses sex to sell anything from fucking soft drinks to socks.

    Nailed it.

    The US (and other Western nations) are churning out sexualised advertising, music videos; computer games, etc, etc, and a few blokes are upset at what one woman wears?

    I’d say they’ve lost the plot.

  11. (Wrong Martyn. Read my last comment again.)
    And I did not mention sexual abuse.
    And, Robert , it was NOT Baby Boomers. These influences came from America, and they came uninvited into our lounges via TV.

    Anyway, what this story is really about, is that today, dressing up like a prostitute is “normal” way to dress up. Poor teens of today can’t tell the difference and so they’ll even go like that to a school ball!
    How does a prostitute dress? Clingy dress only just covering ass, high heels, bright red lipstick. Oh dear.

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