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!
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.