As you may have read on my fan page today I am starting a new little section to this blog that focuses on topics in the media involving body image, women's rights, self esteem, and young women's issues. I have some really cool posts lined up so far and would LOVE for others to submit some guest posts. If this interests you please shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is (obviously) the first post in that series. I was actually going to write about cyber bullying and other abhorrent behavior that's been going on within the beauty community lately. But this topic really isn't so different..because it indeed deal with bullies of a much grander scale.
As you may or may not have read in the news yesterday, a public school in Dunkerton Iowa hired "Christian Rap-Core" (eh??) band Junkyard Prophet to perform an assembly at their school last week. Instead of the expected positive messages about anti-violence, anti-bullying, and anti-drugs students were bombarded with a totally different agenda. One that included pictures of aborted fetuses, anti-gay hate speech, and a very special lesson for the girls telling them to remain virtuous, pure and to "save themselves for their husbands and assume a submissive role in the household. According to witnesses, the leader in that effort also forced the young ladies to chant a manta of sorts about remaining pure."
“I’ve never had so many young women come up to me crying because of what was said to them. They were bullied by these people and forced to sit there and told to be quiet,” Manahl said.
Students were separated into 3 groups: Boys, Girls, and Faculty. Why nobody saw that as a red flag is totally beyond my comprehension. It is reported that students and faculty who tried to leave or disagreed with their radical message were shouted at, bullied, and intimidated by these people.
"Steve Phelan, an English teacher, said the leader in his group chastised the faculty for being disrespectful."Then he probably spent five or 10 minutes shouting at us about what we should believe," Phelan said. Four members of the faculty walked out. Phelan did not.
Now let's just try to ignore the fact that a PUBLIC school paid $1,500-$2,000 of taxpayers money to hire a known Anti-gay hate group to perform at their school. Let's also ignore the fact that the superintendent could have simply google'd them and come across their hateful material. I'd like to think that we all know that is totally unacceptable. Let's just focus on one small aspect that might not seem as damaging as the rest of their harmful messages. "Virtue Class".
Now compared to in your face bigotry a message about virtue seems pretty positive. Virtue is defined as "Behavior showing high moral standards" and "A quality considered morally good or desirable in a person". When I think of virtue the things that come to my mind are: Being tolerant of others, Being honest in your words and actions, Being true to yourself, Being kind and loyal to those whom you love, Being a good a citizen in your community, and just generally not doing bad things. From what I gathered from the hour long watered-down online recorded version of virtueclass available here is that being virtuous means: Abstinence, No dating without the intention of marriage, No idolatry (no looking up to celebrities or public figures), Modesty, and looking good to please your husband??? They also aren't big fans of makeup *smirk*.
While I do not agree with abstinence-only teaching in schools.. that isn't really what bothers me here. What bothers me is how these people go about "teaching" these girls. From what I understand the program includes role-plays such as this:
A girl is made to put on a fake veil and wedding dress. Then she is told that today is her wedding day, and then she is told that because she's had other boyfriends in the past and lustful thoughts..she has to put black spots all over dress. And that if you aren't a virgin when you get married there is mud on your wedding dress.
A blind-folded girl put makeup on another teenage girl to represent the evils of looking up to celebrities and "The blind leading the blind".
Includes having girls chant "My husband is going to want to eat". And discourages girls from "letting themselves go" and "getting fat" once they get married. "No man wants a fat heifer" claims the speaker.
They are also made to look at VERY graphic photos of aborted fetuses.
There is no message like this for the male students.. it seems there is a bit of a double standard going on here. It seems very extreme, and intimidating to give these types of harmful messages to vulnerable young girls in their teenage years. It is unrealistic to expect every teenage girl to not only remain a virgin until marriage, but remain "pure of heart" and not "think lustful thoughts". This includes no kissing and no boyfriends. Condemning teens for their sexuality at an awkward time in their lives is not helpful to anyone. Neither is telling them to be submissive to their fathers and future husbands. It especially isn't positive to tell girls that vanity is evil unless you are trying to look good for your husband. It isn't a positive message at all. And it sure as hell does not belong at a public school assembly. These people not only are very anti-gay, they seem to be very anti-women as well. I went to the source to get the ministry's own opinion.
After deleting around 7-8 inquires i'd written on their facebook fan page (And telling me to "Go to bed" repeatedly) they initially agreed to answer some questions about what in their words went on at that assembly. They however chose to side-step my questions and gave a few vague and quite frankly rude responses before deleting my questions yet again and banning me from commenting further.
Some gems from this conversation can be read below. I cut out a lot of the un-related comments to make it easier to follow. Please note that this is AFTER they erased many of my questions, told me to go to bed repeatedly, and then finally agreed to answer my questions:
They never answered my question at all. I DID listen to both versions of VirtueClass (which are slightly different, I might add) I just wanted to know if the exact same material was taught to those girls which only required a yes or no answer. I would still love to hear how that situation was taken out of context but I do not expect further comment on the situation at this time.
Regardless of your stance on religion.. would you be comfortable having these people come preach this non-sense to YOUR daughters at a public school assembly or otherwise? Do you think their views on women are especially harmful to teenage girls or is it really no big deal? I'd like to hear YOUR opinions on the matter.
Media links here: