Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Victimization or Twisted Narrative?

It is prom season, and teenagers all around the country have donned their silk, chiffon, and satin dresses and put on their suits and tuxedos. But here in Richmond, Virginia, an incident that occurred at the Richmond Homeschool Prom has caused quite a stir.

The drama is surrounding a girl named Clare, who is a high school senior. Clare was asked to leave her prom for breaking dress code and behavior rules.

Clare fights back against the actions taken by the prom authorities in a blog post entitled Fuck the Patriarchy. Clare talks about her appearance at prom in the blog post, saying,
I’m all dolled up, channeling my inner Marilyn Monroe with my blonde hair and bright red lipstick. I’m a tall and fairly curvy girl and you know something? I looked hot. Not trashy, but you definitely would look twice when I walked through a doorway. And you know what happened? I got kicked out of prom because of it.
Clare goes on to say that she made sure that her dress fit the dress code, which simply stated that dresses could be no shorter than fingertip length. Clare tells how she arrived at prom and one of the ladies in charge stopped her and told her that her dress was too short. Putting her arms to her side, Clare showed the lady that her dress fit the dress code.

Later on in her blog, Clare says that she and her friends were, "a little grossed out by all the dads on the balcony above the dance floor, ogling and talking amongst themselves." Clare attests that she and her friends weren't dancing, and that they were only "swaying with the music." Clare states that the lady that approached her about her dress at the beginning reappeared with another woman, presumably another chaperone. The woman told Clare and her friends that some of the dads that were chaperoning had, as Clare stated, "complained that my dancing was too provocative, and that I was going to cause the young men at the prom to think impure thoughts." A friend of Clare's spoke up and said that Clare hadn't danced for more than two seconds. 

The ladies in charge proceeded to ask Clare to leave the prom. Clare protested and demanded a refund for herself as well as for her friends, because they had to leave together due to driving arrangements. Clare reports that she received a refund but her friends did not. As Clare and her friends were leaving the prom, Clare says that they shouted profanities at the prom staff and flipped them off. 

Here are Clare's closing words on her post:
"Goddamn I’m not responsible for some perverted 45 year old dad lusting after me because I have a sparkly dress on and a big ass for a teenager. And if you think I am, then maybe you’re part of the problem."
Those are some interesting word choices. Accusing homeschool dads of lusting after herself is an extreme allegation. Anyways, that is Clare's side of the story, as reported by Clare.

Needless to say, I was shocked when I read Clare's blog post. But my shock turned to anger when I saw how many people had read her post, and were doing their own stories. This story has obviously sparked extreme controversy. Some of the headlines for the other posts on Clare's story are, "Christian Homeschool Dads Lust After 17-Year-Old Girl, Get Her Kicked Out of Prom," "Girl Kicked Out Of Prom Because Dads Found Her Too Sexy," and "Teen Girl Kicked Out Of Homeschool Prom Because Creepy Dads Couldn't Stop Drooling Over Her."

This story has gone completely viral. Last night, NBC News covered the story in their evening news, complete with an interview with Clare's sister and boyfriend (whom I know). I find it unbelievable that NBC aired this story on television. Their first source was the blog post written by the girl that was kicked out, and though they attempted to contact prom authorities, they didn't speak to anyone involved with the running of the prom. NBC also failed to air any interview of other individuals who attended prom.

I read some of the comments on articles written about Clare and the incident, and the vast majority made me sick to my stomach and ready to give up on humanity. Not only were the people bashing homeschool prom, they were bashing homeschoolers, homeschooling, and especially homeschool dads. Nearly all of the comments were offensive, and many were profane. Countless people called the homeschool dads "perverts." One comment said that they deserve to go to jail.

I have always loved prom. I attended seven or eight while in high school. Out of those seven or eight proms, I attended the Richmond Homeschool Prom for three consecutive years. In all of those years, I  NEVER saw a chaperone showing obscene behavior, from a dirty look to a lewd comment. The chaperones at the Richmond Homeschool Prom are typically adults that have children at the prom. Every year that I went, I knew several of the chaperones personally. The chaperones are unpaid volunteers. Out of the goodness of their heart, they volunteered their time and service so that the prom would be a fun, safe, and memorable experience. Granted, I realize that the prom was operated by different people this year, but I know one of the women in charge. She is one of the nicest women I know, and she wouldn't want to hurt anyone. 

This year I did not attend the Richmond Homeschool Prom, but my brother and a huge group of my friends did. I heard several reports from eyewitnesses that Clare was in fact dancing provocatively, and that her dress was hiked way up around her thighs.

I am not one to judge, and I am not one to jump to conclusions either. I am sorry that Clare's senior prom was ruined. But the fact of the matter is that Clare was kicked out for a reason (eight other people were kicked out for similar reasons --but Clare claims she is the only one). People aren't kicked out of prom for "swaying back and forth" and wearing an appropriate dress. The prom coordinators and chaperones weren't out to get Clare. I am sure that the last thing they wanted to do was kick someone out. An individual's actions and or attire have to be extremely risque to be asked to leave prom.

The most upsetting and ridiculous part of the entire story is that the dad chaperones are being portrayed as perverts.  If Clare wasn't attracting any attention due to inappropriate clothing or dancing, as she claims she wasn't, the chaperones wouldn't have noticed her and said something to the person in charge. However, Clare did attract attention, and I don't think it was because she is "leggy" and "curvy," as Clare referred to herself. Come on Clare, really? There were hundreds of girls at prom. Do you really think that all the chaperone dads were just staring at you? 

In years past, I know that before attending the Richmond Prom, all attendees were required to sign a form that acknowledged that the rules and dress code would be adhered to. Like any other prom I have ever heard of, if you are asked to leave for breaking the rules, you have to go. Clare was asked leave, and she should have done so peacefully, after respectfully talking about the situation with the people in charge. Instead, when leaving, she and her friends created a scene by cursing and flipping off the chaperones, then writing a blog post entitled "F**k the Patriarchy." Now her version of the story is viral and ignorant people everywhere are calling homeschool dads perverts.

I can't believe that this situation has blown up as much as it has. I find it very sad that Clare and her friends care so little about the Richmond Homeschool Prom and the people that ran it that they would portray it and them in such a terrible light. The people that are applauding Clare for her actions are doing it because they have bought into Clare's portrayal of herself being victimized. Clare is not the victim here.

I'm not writing this blog post to make people angry. I'm writing this because I am outraged that something that could have been handled in a completely different way has blown up into something huge. And now, hundreds of people are reading twisted articles that couldn't be further from the truth.

Somehow, this whole situation has morphed into a scenario where Clare was victimized by a prom coordinator and "ogled" by chaperone dads for being "hot" and "leggy." In reality, a girl was kicked out of prom with very good reason, and she freaked out and decided that the world needed to know her "story." 

Moral of the story? Think about the implications of your actions before you take a drastic one.

"People 
generally see 
what they look for
and hear
what they listen for."

-To Kill A Mockingbird