I am angry at Erykah Badu. It is difficult to write this. She may not know me, but she used to be my queen. But it appears that on the Henderson High School skirt debate she has missed the mark.
Included in her tweets were these gems:
"There was an article ruling that high school girls lower their skirts so male teachers are not distracted. I agreed because ...”
" ... I am aware that we live in a sex l-driven society. It is everyone's, male and female's, responsibility to protect young ladies ..”
“... But do I think it is unnatural for a heterosexual male 2b attracted to a young woman in a revealing skirt? No. I think it is his nature ...”
"Being attracted to a young woman in a short skirt does not make one a "pervert" It makes them human,"
Yes Erykah, we live in a sexual society, but sexuality itself is not primarily male. We are all sexual and when I was at school I had very, very distracting thoughts about boys in my class, not necessarily because of their white shorts (although perhaps this fuelled the fire) but because of their faces, their voices, their bodies, their scent. It was so distracting that I would drift helplessly in thought and have no idea what was going on – I think in the height of my distraction it may even have contributed to a drop in my marks. I do not think it is necessary, however, for all men to wear balaclavas because I know that my sexuality is not their problem, nor do I think it’s their fault that I find them attractive.
The problem with expecting teenage girls to cover up is not that we are denying anyone’s natural sexuality, it is that we are assuming boys and men are incapable of controlling their sexuality. There have been cases in the news in which female teachers have got it off with male students, and yet when this happens, does it seem a natural question to ask how tight were his shorts? No. We put the onus on the teacher for not being able to control her sexual desires.
Is it too much to ask that we get treated the same? That we are not asking for anything when we wear mid-thigh skirts, just like men are not asking for anything when they wear stubbies on the rugby field? Why does society assume that our bodies are so alluring, so inherently sexual that we must cover ourselves up in order to be treated with respect?
The situation wasn’t helped by the New Zealand Herald, which penned an infuriating article weighing in on the debate on Twitter without adding any critical critique or investigation into why so many people are outraged about the statements from the high school. Just what we needed, another article to encourage the out of touch opinions of many readers.
Saying that men are distracted and unable to control their sexual desires around ‘scantily clad’ women does nothing for the esteem of men who are more complex than the always horny, simple minded, and emotionally negligent stereotype they are given so often in the media. If men are truly unable to control themselves around teenage girl’s knees and thighs surly the answer is not in lowering the skirts but keeping them away from schools altogether.
So Erykah, queen though you may be, you are so, so wrong. The vast majority of men are not mindless animals. I know we can have more faith in them than that.