All the recent stories about brave, badass students clapping back about absurdly sexist, shame-inducing dress codes in their high schools have been making us feel like it's a magical time to be alive. But a principal in Michigan recently responded to all of those positive feminist messages with an op-ed so sexist and sleazy, we're now questioning whether we've actually made any progress at all.
Jim Bazen, the principal of Plymouth Christian High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan explained that when he read a recent op-ed in the Grand Rapids Press titled "School dress codes have a serious sexism problem," he felt that he just had to take the time to educate all of us clueless young women about the truth, since, as he explained, "as a female you will never completely understand the male mind."
Bazen went on to "explain" that men and boys just can't control themselves or their unintentional lust because of the way their brains are wired, so if young women walk around in tight clothing (He specifically mentions "Spandex!" with an exclamation point), they should expect to inevitably be treated as "sex objects."
"A dress-code policy stating 'Women, dress how you wish' and at the same time expecting the guys to keep their eyes off young ladies with shirts revealing their cleavage, short skirt, tight pants/leggings, shorty shorts, or tight shirt, is like walking out into the rain and expecting not to get wet," Bazen wrote. "The only way you can help young men not treat young ladies as sex objects is by telling the young ladies to cover up!"
"By requiring female students to dress modestly, we are not penalizing them," he continued. "We are protecting them!"
Then things went from patronizing to downright sleazy.
"When young men (or not so young) see (young) women in these outfits, they lust," he wrote. "Women should not be afraid of their sexuality. Women should be afraid of those who admire them only for their 'great body.' We would like them to preserve this wonderful gift (virginity) for their 'one and only.'"
In other words, Bazen is suggesting to female high school students that everything about their bodies and their sexuality is made for the pleasure of men -- including, apparently, himself, as a "not so young" man -- who can't possibly be expected to control themselves or their urges. It's up to people like him to help young women to preserve the "wonderful gift" of their virginity (which, by the way, is not even actually a thing that exists IRL) for one specific man, though, by restricting what clothes they're able to wear.
It's exactly this kind of thinking that actually leads to the objectification of women (Bazen does it quite literally, by referring to a woman's virginity as a "gift" for a man), victim-blaming and the perpetuation of rape culture.
We're keeping our fingers crossed that somewhere out there, there's a real MVP of a principal who might restore our faith in humanity by stepping up to write an op-ed instead addressing young men -- to make sure they know that just like them, women are human beings capable of both lust and self control who deserve to be able to wear (and do) whatever the hell they feel like without having to feel objectified, unsafe or ashamed of their bodies.