I hit the feministas community today and saw that someone had posted about the well-publicized recent case where the vice-principal from hell made teenage girls attending a dance pull up their skirts in public so she could make sure they weren't wearing horrible sinful thongs. No question, this is horrible (and not_hothead_yet expresses it better than I could; go read what she said).
But I found something else that bothered me when I read this comment:
"I also, however, found it incredulous that so many girls apparently allowed themselves to be subjected to this. Perhaps they were naive, and thought their teachers would not have done it if it were illegal? Who knows. I know if I'd been there, not only would I NOT have allowed them to pull up my skirt, but I would have made a huge scene about it, and urged other girls to leave the dance with me in protest."
Then a bunch of people jumped on the bandwagon agreeing, and basically saying what sounded to me like these silly girls got what they deserved because they didn't powerpunch the vice-principal.
So, though I hardly ever go pick on someone I don't know, I posted:
"To me, this sounds a little like blaming the victim. These are teenage girls, and believe it or not, some teenagers do regard teachers as authority figures. I'd like to think I would have given these creeps a piece of my mind -- but I'm in my mid-twenties. What would I have done ten years ago?
Yes, I agree that we should all raise our daughters to speak up for themselves. But let's not shame these girls. The shame should go to the teachers who utterly failed the responsibilities of adulthood and teaching."
I made an effort to not sound accusatory.
The originator of the previous comment replied:
"'believe it or not, some teenagers do regard teachers as authority figures.'
Believe it or not, I mentioned that possibility right here:
'Perhaps they were naive, and thought their teachers would not have done it if it were illegal?'
Do I beleive that's possible? Yeah. Do I find it hard to believe? Yes and no. Would I have let them pull up my skirt or pull down my top? Not without a serious fight, and a lawsuit would follow.
All I said was that I found it incredulous. I can't relate to that kind of naivity and/or lack of self-respect from high school students. I find it no less dificult to believe that the teachers involved didn't know better. How was I blaming the victims?"
This sounded snippy to me, so I replied?
"I think you answer your own question:
"I can't relate to that kind of naivity and/or lack of self-respect from high school students."
To me, it seems unfair to judge children by adult standards. I found the snap reaction of "what is wrong with these girls for not instantly bringing down the house" unsympathetic at best and condescending at worst. These girls deserve sympathy, not more name-calling."
So then the other person snaps:
"OK, this is pointless. You've already read what you wanted to see into what I said, and are only going to continue to try to put words in my mouth. I'm done talking to you about this."
I found this extraordinarily high-school. I should have let it go, but I really didn't think I deserved the attack.
"What's the point of having a discussion if you're going to make accusations at anyone who disagrees with your point of view?"
Which led her to post:
"Which is what you should be asking yourself, right about now..."
I really wanted to respond to this, but didn't. However, not_hothead_yet, who had started following the thread, did...
"geez, put down your fists
she did say "sounds a little bit like..."
it wasn't name-calling to you.... it was a general comment to several people.
Calm down everyone."
So the other person replies to her:
"Fists? Nah. Just don't appreciate being accused of saying something I didn't say. I'm done."
If people didn't act like this, I would probably participate in communities more.
Of course, my paranoia makes me think I must have said something wrong... but I didn't. I think I was the polite one here -- and the sensible one. I spoke up for those girls, and I think that's the most feminist thing I could have done. Of course, it didn't do a damn bit of good...