THE THREATENING EMERGENCE OF TEENAGE SEXUALITY
I have to write this just to get it out there. I have witnessed a very disturbing trend in our local small school district, and it's not the kids who are having trouble with sex--it's the parents. "Arguments" have broken out between the parents since their girls have turned 12-13 years old. It's a new dynamic: one of sexually-based fear. The parents have already assigned sexual characteristics to children whom appear to have never had sex. They don't know as much as their parents, but their parents are quickly making them shamed.
At one private school, a girl was twice told to change her shoes, with a claim by the school principal that they were inappropriate. One day the girl wore red flats, and on another dress up day, she wore some low heels with buttons on them. The girl was humiliated; her parents were called. All of this over shoes. I don't know why the female administration didn't focus on the fact that this young girl (an avid athlete) would find out at the end of the school day that heels are horribly uncomfortable. She might have even declined to wear them on her own. The crazy thing about this is how negatively other parents have reacted.
New talk has been made about whether or not the girls can wear "hoodie" sweatshirt, skirts without tights, and any kind of dress shoes. The boys' attire has never been mentioned. Other parents now feel free to comment on the dress of the young girls in the class. They comment to the principal about impropriety. They comment on "bad influences" and "keeping these kids in line." This has just started since the girls entered 8th grade.
For the girls, even if their skirts are "too short" or "too sexy," they'd no knowledge of it until school administration pounced. Now they are nervous about what they are wearing. They have become worried when they get dressed. Mind you, there is a uniform policy at the school, but administrators and parents have now declared the dress issues a public forum, with these young girls at the center.
Some parents have forbade their girls to play with the "now-troubled" girls with uniform woes. The forbidding parents cite issues like: lack of parental discipline, lack of limits, and inappropriate behavior. All of sudden, the dress of these children has become a battleground, and the girls' emerging sexuality is an issue:
"Well, X doesn't have anything yet to show anyway..."
"I know that, but Y has developed, and she looks 16..." (which early pubertal development suddenly becoming something that should be controlled)
"Those skirts are way too short. I can see your butt."
And now what might have been simply skirts that are "too short" has been turned into a lobbying cry about how developed the other girls are and how it should be covered. The principal even stated recently that one of the girls' mothers "had problems in high school." So, at this point, the parents are being attacked too.
I keep reminding myself that in this stage of political conservativism and religious zealots, this sort of thing shouldn't surprise me anymore, but I must confess to losing sleep over it. Those girls didn't fully understand that short skirts or red heels= associations with sexual promiscuity, but they do now. They have been attacked for it. They didn't understand that they should want to hide their burgeoning breasts and hips with oversized shirts and pants until the school administration (composed of younger-student parents) told them to be ashamed.
These 8th grade girls didn't realize they were entering a battle zone over red shoes or heels. They had no idea that other parents would alienate them or talk about them disparagingly. It's so sad to watch. I am also worried about the parents who have started this smear campaign against 13-year olds. What kind of people do this?
Of course, I ask myself this, and then I read about Bush's new political appointment. Eric Kerouak talks about the evils of birth control and the damage of premarital sex. Here is the kicker: he has been working with "women and girls in crisis." I just wonder where the crisis starts. Does it start with sex? Does it start with birth control? Does it start with red shoes?