Impure Thought Police

A number of folks have been sharing the story about Clare, a seventeen-year-old girl who was kicked out of her prom. Reading Clare’s account, it sounds to me like there were two factors:

  1. Mrs. D, one of the prom organizers, was on a power trip. She disapproved of Clare’s dress, and when Clare pointed out that it didn’t violate the dress code, Mrs. D couldn’t let it go. I remember dealing with teachers like that. I remember watching my brother go through it. My daughter recently had similar trouble with a woman at her school. A student points out that an adult is mistaken about something. The adult takes it as a challenge to their power and authority, and gets it into their head that they’re gonna show this punk kid who’s boss. I don’t know for certain that this is what happened to Clare, but that aspect of her story is both familiar and highly obnoxious.
  2. A little later, Mrs. D pulled Clare aside to say, “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.” Clare said she had hardly been dancing at all, much less seductively. Mrs. D reiterated that the dress was too short, and told Clare she would have to leave.

There’s an update here, which asks people not to harass the prom coordinator, and notes that the moderators for the prom’s Facebook page were deleting comments and eventually deleted the whole page. Neither Mrs. D nor the administration have made any sort of statement about the incident.

So here’s the thing. I’ve got 40 years of experience as a guy. For the record, we men aren’t a bunch of delicate flowers who swoon at the mere sight of a girl’s legs. A young woman dancing doesn’t scar us for life.

The dads were worried about the young men at the prom thinking impure thoughts? Do they remember what it’s like to be a teenage boy? At that age, a stiff breeze is enough to make you think “impure” thoughts. It’s like Pavlovian condition gone mad. School bell rings? Boner! Sit down in the cafeteria? Boner! Adjust your seat belt? Boner! Trying to maintain my dignity as a teenage boy was like a neverending game of whack-a-mole…

Or is it that we don’t trust the boys to control themselves? That we think men are monsters, transformed by the mere sight of a girl’s thigh into slobbering, sex-crazed monsters, helpless to resist the Curse of the Visible Girlflesh.

Clare notes that she and her friends were grossed out by some of the Dads who were ogling them from the balcony. Which would be creepy as hell if we held men in any way responsible for their own actions, but of course we can’t blame them. Because apparently seventeen-year-old girl legs are made of man-kryptonite.

There’s nothing new in the attitudes here. We blame and punish the women, because it frees men from responsibility. But as a man, I find it insulting, tiresome, and damaging as hell.