School dances: Another baby boomer failure
With the new school year in full swing, school dances have begun in earnest. This can’t be what Patrick Swayze had in mind in “Dirty Dancing.”
For those of you fortunate enough not to have had experience with this yet, here’s what kids do today at many school dances (as well as at parties, formal and otherwise): They provocatively grind their pelvises into each other on the dance floor, sometimes standing face to face, sometimes with the boy behind the girl. It's called grinding.
Sexually suggestive dancing was hardly invented by today's kids. Young people say it is harmless fun, and sometimes it is.
But sometimes there is something more troubling going on: Boys often walk up to girls who don’t already have a boy thrusting his genitals at them and just start right up, no permission sought. Many girls, who even in the 21st century will do nearly anything to win a boy’s attention, allow them to go ahead without a word. Of course, there are some girls who initiate it themselves. That’s no better.
What this points to is the failure of many baby boomers to teach their daughters to respect themselves and their bodies and make their own choices, and to teach their sons to view women and girls as something other than sex objects.
The objectification of women in American society is at least as strong today as it ever was. It is unfathomable that girls, sometimes 13 or younger, can feel that the culture demands they allow boys to push themselves on them or risk ridicule.
There is also the developmental issue: Even though today’s teens are bombarded with sexual messages far more than previous generations were and may seem culturally mature at earlier ages, they aren’t any more psychologically ready to deal with the consequences than we old folks were at their age.
At Downey High School in Los Angeles, for example, parents and teens have to sign a contract before a kid can attend a dance that says, in part, that there will be "no touching breasts, buttocks or genitals. No straddling each others' legs. Both feet on the floor." According to this Los Angeles Times article, offending students get two warnings before being thrown out.
The same article reported that Mickey Blaine, the dean of students at private Pacific Hills School in West Hollywood, warned students last year that if they crossed the line he would turn up the lights and play Burt Bacharach music or William Shatner singing "Mr. Tambourine Man."
That may be a better way of dealing with the immediate problem than an outright ban that kids go out of their way to defy. What is really needed is education for both sexes (that starts early and doesn't end) about gender and respect, for self and others alike.
This is one thing the boomer generation should have gotten right.
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| October 2, 2010; 1:13 PM ET
Categories: High School, Student Life | Tags: baby boomers, boomer generation, boomers, school dances; dirty school dancing; teen dancing; grinding on dance floor
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