The girl was right

There’s an apocryphal story about Einstein.  He was said to object to teaching co-ed seminars, on the grounds that the boys would be too busy with the girls to pay attention to the subject.  “But Professor Einstein, surely they would pay attention to you!”  “Such boys are not worth teaching.”

This story shows something of what’s wrong with our assumptions about sexuality.

Like that poor kid who was sent home.

The kid was wearing an essentially respectable outfit, and was told to go home because she looked like a whore.

She wrote about it saying that it was an example of the patriarchy.

She is correct and here is some of why.

– Policing only the clothing of girls for modesty is inherently sexist (think hijab folks).
– So what if boys get aroused looking up her skirt. Why were they doing that? Who teaches them manners? The school should tell them not to act like predatory louts.
– Girls get aroused too. Where is the care for that in her school? Maybe girls aren’t aroused (usually) by pants hanging down (except, who knows? maybe they are), but by boys, if they’re straight, yeah. I can remember how the turn of a boy’s neck affected me then, and the way some of them stood: loose jointed, arrogant.
– Girls aren’t in charge of boys responses. Boys are in charge of their own responses.
– Teaching girls to monitor themselves on the assumption that boys can’t is saying that girls’ learning isn’t important
I’d like to talk about what children hear when they are told “Girl go home, your clothing affects Boy sexually”

– The sexuality of a boy is not his responsibility. He is a boy (and later, a man) and they just can’t help themselves when faced with a girl (or woman)
– Girls (and women) must police their own behavior and that of other women, because boys (and men) don’t, won’t, can’t control their responses to girls (and women)
– When boys act out sexually it is the fault of some girl or woman who didn’t display (the right kind of) modesty
– Girls (and women) are sexual objects, not sexual subjects. Girls (and women) don’t have sexual desires let alone desires that they can’t control. If girls (or women) feel desire, it’s certainly internal, and nothing there are no actions taken by boys (or men) which affect female desire (if there even were such a thing).
– Girls are not intellectual beings. Their intellectual or artistic or creative development will be thrown to the wayside if boys act out. Because it’s the fault of the girls that the boys acted out.

If all of this doesn’t strike a person as utterly outrageous —

Clearly all of this doesn’t strike a lot of people as outrageous, that’s why they’ll permit it in their schools, they’ll blame rape on the victim.

We don’t blame burglary on the victim.
We don’t assume that the victim must have done something wrong.
We don’t make the victim the watchdog over the criminal’s conscience and behavior.
We don’t blame the victim.
We don’t blame the victim.
We don’t blame the victim.

When we speak of sexually motivated bad behavior of boys and men, we operate from a model where male desire is naturally uncontrolled.

This is true even when we speak of harassment of gay boys and men. We allow it, because somehow the gay boys and men didn’t manage their own behavior in a way that would moderate that of the aggressors.

The model of male uncontrolled (and uncontrollable) desire and rage is taught young. It is completely false. It locks boys and men out of adult behavior, and forces girls and women into the odd role of sexual object with no sexuality.

Girls and women are sexual and we are taught not to incite male aggression (sexual or otherwise) so we tell ourselves “maybe it was my fault”. It wasn’t my fault. It just plain wasn’t.

That girl in her perfectly respectable outfit (dowdy if anything) wasn’t the reason for boyish bad behavior. Sadly her life will show her that it doesn’t matter what she wears, some male person will perceive it as an invitation.

How rotten that we don’t teach our boys that other people are not living incitements to violence or general bad behavior. How horrifying that we don’t teach boys that women are people.

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