Posted by: bwoof | February 27, 2015

I wish I hadn’t reacted so quickly…

Today I observed a group of male teens in the hall, one of whom was wearing a black hoodie with a large photo image on the front.  I reacted!

The image (which I shall not post here) displayed the close-up of a person (presumably a female) who was wearing a very small spandex crop-top that covered a very small portion of the amply endowed chest area — significant portions of the chest area were hanging out and nothing was left to the imagination.  The image extended to well below the bare belly-button area.  I reacted!

My gut reaction happened on several levels:

1. inappropriate attire for a school

2. flagrant objectifying image of a woman

3. disturbing reaction from the teen and his friends who said, “Well, she’s not naked, so what’s the problem?”

And in the gut moment I publicly, and perhaps loudly, directed the student to take off the hoodie and find something else to wear. Lots of people were there and would have witnessed my directive. But, mission accomplished. The student took off the hoodie and I could see his plain t-shirt.

I won.  NOT!

Upon reflection, I believe that my gut reaction was real and probably very well founded.  But who did the thinking in this situation? Me!

This young man and his associates haven’t got a clue why I, the old lady in the story, got so crazy annoyed. They have no idea that they as a group were sending demeaning messages about women? They don’t understand that what is fun to them may have disastrous impact on relationships and others. They don’t understand that what might be freedom of speech to them is harmful to others.  I’ll bet their thinking is focussed on the prudish-VP rather than their own interactions with young women.

They also won’t have a clue that I spend many hours per week interacting with young women who are devestated by feelings of being ‘used’  or demeaned by others based on their appearance, sexiness (or lack thereof) or desire to be accepted for who they are rather than how they look.

So…my learning today is that a) I have gut reactions and b) I need to find ways to help others understand why my perspectives might have value and c) I have a hunch that young men need positive models for respecting women.

By Monday I hope I’ll have found a way to redeem a lost opportunity to help a young man become aware of the impact he has. The floor is open for ideas, because honestly I haven’t a clue about what to do next.

Grateful for:

  • men in my life who have always always always shown me respect
  • my dad who at a very young age helped me understand that I didn’t need to be anyone’s object
  • my opportunity to be in education and to know what it means to be a learner all the time, scary as that stance may be
  • several OP teachers with whom I had awesome learning conversations today — these folks are unstoppable and if I still had kids in high school I would want these people to be my kids’ teachers

Curious about:

  • how the people at the paint store know how to examine colour chips and recommend the best choices for a dining room — it’s all a mystery to me
  • how the OSCE model can play a role in high school classes
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Responses

  1. Beth, your reflective practice is such a great model. Thank you.

  2. I’m a teenager myself, but even I have difficulty understanding why someone would decide to wear such a hoodie. I don’t know the person personally, but he wore the hoodie not to offend, he probably did it to have some sort of impact on his friends or he simply did it because it felt risqué. Teenagers are really hard to teach, since our brains are still developing, and we are figuring out the differences between right and wrong in more detail than we did as children. Was the purpose of wearing the hoodie to objectify women? I don’t think so. I think that the individual, when prompted, understood that he made a mistake, whether he was willing to admit it or not. In my opinion, there’s not much else that could have been done, when he matures he’ll understand better, but for now, reminders are the best. Maybe if you talk to him privately, he’ll further open up? I’m not quite sure, as I behave as well as possible, and have similar friends who wouldn’t do something like that, so I don’t know how someone like that would react. Good luck with whatever you decide to do!


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