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Archive for August, 2011

in which real life is, basically, a Glee outtakes reel

Posted by pocochina on August 18, 2011

I can’t decide if I’m wildly amused or disproportionately outraged by this case. Because, when a decision starts off with an ominous:

Not much good takes place at slumber parties for high school kids, and this case proves the point. [Ed note: dun dun DUN!]

you expect some CRAZY SHIT, right?

T.V., M.K. and a number of their friends had sleepovers at M.K.’s house. Prior to the first sleepover, the girls bought phallic-shaped rainbow colored lollipops. During the first sleepover, the girls took a number of photographs of themselves sucking on the lollipops. In one, three girls are pictured and M.K. added the caption “Wanna suck on my cock.”

They posted these pictures, and other similarly tasteful (GET IT?) shenanigans on Facebook, though locked for their friends. When the school year rolled around, the extracurricular sturm und drang was such that the superintendent and principal of the school felt the need to take the drastic measure of suspending them from volleyball, cheerleading, and show choir for a year. (They were later out on good behavior given the opportunity to attend counseling and reduce their punishment.) They sued and won for the violation of their constitutional rights.

At least the legal reasoning is pretty cut-and-dried here. It’s pathetic that I’m relieved when pearl-clutching does not overcome the First Amendment, but that’s the way it is. But said pearl-clutching – even by the judge, who qualified the ruling with so much disapproval you can practically see him wincing – is really revealing.

I can’t bring myself to get in on the wisdom of those party games, because it boils down to the universally-acknowledged truth that kids are, in fact, pretty dumb. These kids – tenth graders, prime dumb shit age – happen to have been dumb in a way which broke no laws and did not endanger themselves or others, which puts them ahead of most adults I know.

The fact that they posted it on Facebook and Photobucket really doesn’t change my reluctance to be bothered. I’m aware that the internet never forgets, and that girls and women who go online and share something we construct as “compromising” – BASICALLY ANYTHING THAT IS ANY FUN EVER – may face negative consequence at work or school, and will more likely than not be subject to social shaming. But at the risk of stating the blatantly obvious, the answer to that isn’t in validating the mass migration to the fainting couch by guaranteeing more punishment and shaming.

Past the counterproductive nature of punishing them, there are a lot of issues at play here which I don’t mean to trivialize. I worry that there’s some level of implied (internalized?) homophobia in the idea that their kiddie-pool simulations would definitely obviously be totally absurd and hilarious and could in no way be mistaken for actual attraction. I am more than a little disturbed and saddened by the extent to which girls are taught that their sexuality is something to be viewed by others, not experienced by themselves. Those are all serious concerns, worth addressing at every level.

Unfortunately, the school district’s argument was, in full, that THEY HAVE BROUGHT DISHONOR UPON OUR HOUSE.

…the photographs were inappropriate, and that by posing for them, and posting them on the internet, the students were reflecting discredit upon the school.

Absolutely nothing else. Nothing about laws or safety, not a mention of educational environment or even school property. Just that the fact that these girls seem to have some small knowledge of and sense of humor about sex and didn’t try to hide it. And someone had to put a stop to that nonsense!

I mean, no, this isn’t the biggest deal in the world. (Money quote: one could reasonably question the wisdom of making a federal case out of a 6-game suspension from a high school volleyball schedule. One could indeed.) But that’s the worst thing about it all, that this was solely about the school district making a statement that such a relatively innocuous thing was not only worth the upheaval it apparently caused, but necessitated them getting involved and meting out public punishment and disapproval, and spending two years in court defending their finger-wagging.

There’s something deviant, transgressive, presumptively disruptive about female sexuality meeting female humor. When it’s Alison Brie or Sarah Silverman, performers for whom comedy is the goal in and of itself, it can be dismissed as absurdity. When it’s about teens recognizing on some level the ridiculousness of the role they’re expected to play, and seizing by way of humor whatever agency it affords them – learning, as kids do, something that if they are very lucky might help them toward well-rounded adult lives – people lose their shit. Because if it’s funny, it’s less scary, and if sex gets less scary for young women, it becomes that much harder to uphold all the punishment and shaming. However embarrassing the particulars of this case might be for everyone involved, I’m not convinced it’s entirely contemptible and trivial.

Also, give it up. Those giant rainbow lollipops were probably pretty funny.

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