Women have breasts. Bartam Trail High School in Florida apparently is either surprised by that fact or believes that students haven’t discovered it yet. They feel compelled to keep breasts under wraps, and so have edited eighty yearbook photos to remove all traces of cleavage. I would hasten that no boy’s picture was edited for any reason. To add insult to injury, some of the photo shopping is beyond terrible. There is no information that any of the photos would be considered inappropriate by any well adjusted person.
It seems that whenever there is an examination of schools’ dress codes, patriarchy and misogyny lurk just below the surface. We don’t have to poke patriarchy or misogyny too hard to discover an underlying belief that women are responsible for the feelings of men, especially desire, and most especially sexual desire. These people would have us believe that if it weren’t for young women, young men wouldn’t have any sexual desire at all. Those of us who recall being pubescent males can tell you that notion is absolutely absurd, yet it persists. Why?
I believe one of the reasons we continue to struggle with this issue is that we refuse to let go of puritan understandings of human sexuality. We therefore refuse to embrace our sexuality, including its shadow, and are consumed by it. There is nothing “dirty” or wrong about consensual human sexuality. There is nothing wrong with the human body, including s. The ideas that suggest otherwise are rooted in profound misunderstandings of the human body and its biology. To suggest otherwise is to ignore the truth and dwell in falsehood. Unfortunately, dwelling in that falsehood isn’t a private matter, because it will lead you to project and impose your ignorance onto others. Like all oppression, that imposition can be profoundly harmful to others.
When we shame young women about their bodies, no matter our motivation, we teach them that they are inherently flawed. That is a lie. When we teach boys (or girls) that they aren’t in control of their own feelings, thoughts, and behavior, we teach them irresponsibility and scapegoating. That is unethical and based on lies. When we teach these things because of our own discomfort with the subject, we are doing nothing less that passing our own toxic shame onto them uninvited. They deserve better. They deserve the truth.