I'm Jessica Smith, a student of Alliance Christian
and I feel that they're information is wrong.
They have been telling the girls in my school,
from grade 6th to 12th, that because of the way
we dress we cause the boys in our school to sin
and that it is our fault when they "lust" after
us. I was wondering what opinion you had on this
issue and what advice you would give me to go
about stopping this idea from being apart of the
I had a friend/colleague who experienced something
similar to you. I thought you'd appreciate her
response -- "Yes, almost the exact same thing
happened to me (only in a public school).I was
told, among other things, what I had to wear every
day and that I was in danger especially because
I was asking for the attention of the mostly non-white
janitorial staff (although the only males I ever
had problems with where the mostly white, upper
middle class teachers). I found that while it
sucked to hear such depressingly retro remarks,
overall the experience was positive. The issue
really got me fired up about researching my constitutional
rights in school to wear what I wanted (maybe
not applicable in private schools). Talking to
my friends about it, I found most people supported
me and I managed to get some people to rethink
their positions. I also suggest she talk about
the issues to teachers that she trusts--many are
probably on her side (many were on mine, including
the school principal). It is especially important
to find out there are more people on your side
than you think, because those who are critical
often position themselves as "only looking out
for your best interest" (e.g., my dean kept stressing
how worried she was about me, that I "needed"
to dress in such a way, and only wanted to keep
me from getting myself raped or labeled).
addition, it is always good to use the school
newspaper to publish an opinion piece (written
preferably by a friend, not by her, so it has
more credibility) with a well thought out defense.
In the end, I wound up being suspended "in-school"
for a day, but the attention that the issue received,
and the effect of bringing feminist debate into
the daily discourse of my peers far outweighed
the negatives. Plus, in the end, I kept wearing
what I wanted to anyway, and learned to maneuver
in such a way as not to cross paths with to a
certain zealous dean of students.
good thing that can come out of such frustrating
oppression is the energy to organize--maybe she
could harness her anger to get her friends together
to start a feminist club in school, or do something
like call the local NOW chapter and get involved
there, or ask someone to speak at a school assembly
(we had Gloria Steinem in my junior year). I would
also suggest a diet of good old feminist classics.
This issue is so central it is hard to pick out
a few in particular to recommend, but Reviving
Ophelia and something like "transforming a rape
culture" or "virgin or vamp" about the tendency
in our culture to blame the victim (can't remember
the authors' names, sorry)."