Jim Bazen, You Are the Problem

Yesterday, MLive published a horribly sexist, victim-blaming, slut-shaming article written by Jim Bazen, the principal of Plymouth Christian High School in Grand Rapids. You can read the whole thing here.

I decided to wait until today to collect my thoughts and write a response to the article because after reading it yesterday the only thought coming to my mind was “[insert eye roll] F*** you.”

I, and I would bet probably every woman that you know, have been policed and sexualized in our lifetimes and we’re tired of it. And we get policed no matter how much clothing we wear. This cartoon sums it up perfectly. So, don’t be surprised when our blood boils at yet another misogynistic man deciding to shout his sexism from the rooftops and tell us that it’s our fault that men and boys can’t manage to treat women and girls with respect.

Let’s start with the reason why Jim Bazen chose to publish this misogynistic piece, other than the fact that he clearly holds blatantly sexist attitudes towards women. His article is in response to an editorial published last month by the Grand Rapids Press editorial board discussing the sexism problems with school dress codes. They pointed out the fact that school dress code policies that label girls’ athletic wear (yoga pants, etc.) as “sexually provocative” sends a harmful message to women that they are nothing more than sexual objects that distract men and that those types of policies disproportionately penalize women, which is true.

The best solution to this issue is to teach young people early on to respect one another, teach them that women and men should be treated as equals, and to recognize when we’re reinforcing gender bias by policing women and girls. Because if girls are policed and sexualized in school, that impacts how both boys and girls perceive each other when they become women and men. And if we don’t check people’s biased policing when it arises, then we as a society can never expect women to be treated as equals to men. That goes not only for how girls and women dress, but also what they say and how they act.

But, Jim Bazen decided that the solution is pretend like gender bias in our society doesn’t exist and to continue penalizing women while defending men who objectify them. According to Jim Bazen, “females” will never understand the male mind. Apparently men are one-track minded, sex-crazed lust hounds who see a woman’s skin or a woman wearing fitted clothing and lose their shit, and that will never change so the only resolution is for women to take responsibility for men’s ineptitude and consider how men will respond whenever making fashion choices. But don’t worry, that doesn’t mean that women are being penalized!

Right…

Jim Bazen is the problem, not women and girls who wear what they want without the expectation that they are going to be policed and/or objectified. Jim Bazen’s sexist attitude towards women and proposed solution actually only further engrains the type of thinking that women are sex objects.

The problem is that we fail to teach young men that women are whole people and not just objects that are there for serving their sexual fantasies. The problem is that we fail to hold boys responsible for their behavior towards girls. The problem is that there are people like Jim Bazen in positions of influence who think that men are always going to be foaming-at-the-mouth sex deviants and we must protect women from them by restricting their freedom of expression and blaming them for a sexist society. And quite frankly, if you think that young people can’t be taught to respect one another, then you shouldn’t be in education.

7 Responses to “Jim Bazen, You Are the Problem”

  1. Michelle October 30, 2015 at 9:53 pm #

    Thanks Marissa! I do so tire of the male god religions spouting their dominance issues over women in an effort to usurp our power and control us to get them where they want to be in life. Prior to the advent of male gods, only 6000 years ago, god was a woman – for 35,000 years. Teach your sons and daughters that god is a woman and watch the world stand on it’s head. This United Nations link may be of interest to you: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/text/econvention.htm#article5
    Take care, Michelle

  2. Dan November 1, 2015 at 1:58 pm #

    I agree with points both in the Bazen article and Luna’s anti-article. From the male point of view, how I read the Bazen article is something like this:

    We seem to all agree that men looking at women lustfully is a bad thing. As a principle, there are things I can and cannot do to help stop this. I cannot make a young man stop thinking about a woman lustfully any more than I can make a person stop thinking about a deceased friend with sadness. I can attempt to explain to them why it’s bad, but ultimately I cannot know what they are thinking, and I cannot punish thought. It’s worse than that, since at the same time, when they see a sexily dressed young woman, they are biologically rewarded for thinking lustfully.

    That is the core of Bazen’s thought. He goes on to note that if women stop dressing sexily, men will stop being rewarded for thinking lustfully – and he knows he can control the dress code. And while he is right about that, Luna is also right that restricting women in this fashion effectively punishes them, and probably subconsciously instills an expectation that it’s OK to police women where men are free to choose. Luna is saying that the simple solution causes additionally bad side effects.

    I wished Luna had stopped there, because she goes on to insult Bazen saying that he is sexist and misogynistic. While his solution may be a bad one, it seems clear to me that he has the utmost respect for women and is trying to solve something that is problematic for women. He wants to help, and Luna’s article makes an enemy of someone who is trying to be a friend.

    His solution is wrong, but don’t make enemies of someone because they say something incorrect. Please suggest solutions of your own. Acknowledge the truth in his statements, point out the incorrect assumptions, and move on from there.

    So here are the truths I see between the two articles:
    1) you cannot tell a young man to stop thinking lustfully about a pretty girl, when his biology is rewarding him for it
    2) you cannot tell a young woman that we are allowed to control her actions and then expect others to treat her as an equal

    I don’t know yet what the solution is, but it can only come from acknowledging that both of those statements are true. And it will only come if we stop demonizing each for for thinking of an ineffective solution.

    • Momof4 November 3, 2015 at 11:12 am #

      very well said!

  3. gunnerjackson November 2, 2015 at 6:47 pm #

    If its of any interest, bazen also has strict male dress codes as well.

  4. Momof4 November 3, 2015 at 11:11 am #

    Kudos to Jim Bazen…Seems like a “well, duh” type situation–a girl dresses provocatively to attract gazes. Why is he being criticized for stating the obvious?

    • Chrystoph November 13, 2015 at 10:12 am #

      @Momof4, he is not being criticized because of that fact. Women, calling them girls in this case is another form of detrimental labeling, dress to attract attention. That does not give anyone, male/female, gender orientation, etc, the right to act on it, ever.

      I am a 48 year old man and a former sailor (with all that implies) and I still evaluate every female past the age of puberty as a sexual partner. That does NOT mean that I ACT on that evaluation.

      I was taught to exist in a society, and that means that there is a social contract between me and the society. That contract includes behaving appropriately to other members of the society. Instead of telling the “girl” that she is wrong, teach the “boy” self control, and appropriate behavior.

      My 14 year old nephew fixated on a woman to the point that he actually turned his head as she was walking by. She was wearing a form fitting T-Shirt and shorts. My response, being behind him, was to grab his head and gently turn it back to the front. I chided him that it was natural and OK to look, but not to the point where her male was feeling aggressive about his looking.

  5. Phil November 9, 2015 at 6:27 am #

    How is dressing modestly a punishment? “Eat your vegetables or you will dress modestly for 20 minutes young lady!!!”

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