Sex and the School Girl
By Joyce Mucci
December '98 Featured Rightgrrl
Member, Rightgrrl Advisory Board
June 8, 1999
LaShonda Davis had it up to her three-ring notebook with a randy male 5th grader named G.K.. It appears that G.K. was a not-so-subtle sexual harasser, who went about the halls of Hubbard Elementary School, sexually intimidating LaShonda. The pesky adolescent was eventually charged with sexual battery, and it can be assumed, based on what happens to grown men who sexually harass women in the workplace, is probably enrolled in some bizarre training class by now.
LaShonda's family and their lawyers got their day in court - the Supreme Court.
The majority opinion, written by Judge Sandra Day O'Connor, is a classic example of the overreaching of the federal government into matters that are predominately the domain of parents, teachers and the state. The ruling declares that student-on-student sexual harassment will not be tolerated. Additionally, under the ruling, school districts will be held liable for failing to respond to a complaint by a girl whose nose is out of joint. One should consider the recent cases of the adult females who have sued companies and won, for such frivolous indignities as a comment on their attire, as a tutorial for what will be commonplace in our schools.
Further, school district's are now in danger of losing their title IX federal funds, funds provided for equality in sports. The schoolyard must be decontaminated for girls.
Weighing in on this historic decision was the National Organization for Women. The confab of white, educated, feminists, who survived their school years, without the help of the Supreme Court hailed the decision as a victory for women, young and old. Patricia Ireland commented that, "every girl should be able to go to school without being groped or jeered". Yes, Patricia, and every girl should be able to date the cutest boy in school, and every girl should have the opportunity to be the most popular, and every girl should have everything.
But that is not life.
The reality is that adolescent boys will behave in inappropriate ways. They are clumsy, ill mannered, scratch in public, spit on the floors, and are still searching for the right way to approach a girl they admire. They always have and they always will. Does that mean we excuse such behavior? Of course not. But the answer lies not in lawsuits or in federalizing behavior. It lies with adult males - namely fathers. What a concept!
If sexual harassment by adolescent males is as pervasive as the American Association of University Women claim - they say 81% of all girls are sexually harassed at school - then it is high time for fathers, brothers, and uncles to step up to the plate.
Without the power of government intervention and the courts, fathers present a far more effective deterrent to adolescent boys' misbehavior than law enforcement ever could. Men, by their very nature, are always open for a challenge. Indeed, the very chemical fuel that makes men different from women is at the heart of why men will risk life and limb for the women they love. It is also why adolescent boys will act in ways that are beyond description and good taste.
However, in our 'sexual harassment' culture, that now extends from the workplace to the schoolyard, the social contract for protecting women from less than discrete admirers has undermined the significant males need to intervene. For if the courts will render just deserts, then there is no need for men to take on that responsibility.
But tradition has taught us, that when a young woman was violated, either verbally or physically, the men closest to her would defend her honor. They saw it as their duty.
Fathers, brothers, and uncles were traditionally called upon to guard their womenfolk against ruthless, uncouth and otherwise less than honorable males. Their protection was welcomed by women and feared by other men. Indeed, defending the honor of your sister, your wife and your mother bestowed on males' responsibility for their own behavior toward women. And for the most part, men, whether young or old, rose to the occasion.
By word of mouth, boys knew that if you messed with "that girl" her male relatives would lean on you. The lessons learned by young men, at that time, were up close and personal. Not arbitrated by a genderless court but by a living, breathing, person who knew where you lived.
Of course there is no way of knowing whether LaShonda's father had a "come to Jesus meeting" with young G.K and his father. Nor are we privy to information about whether Mr. Davis visited the school principal - man to man. But rest assured if either of these two events had occurred, LaShonda would have been vindicated, and we would have been spared federal intervention.
In any case, there will be consequences from the Supreme Court's decision.
Young girls will determine early on that only the courts are qualified to defend their honor. In addition, they will never develop the skills or moxie necessary to take down an unwanted admirer, such as a stinging slap in face or alerting their father. Young boys will come to discern that they need not fear the retribution of older males in response to reckless behavior, but instead, can look forward to being neutered into submission by the courts. Which leaves them without the necessary tutelage of grownup males' insistence that they behave as gentlemen. School districts will suffer the sting over the loss of federal funds if they do not successfully negotiate the federal obstacle course designed to maintain an atmosphere that does not hurt the sensibilities of females. At this juncture, it would be beneficial for districts, to research how sexual harassment laws have effected the private sector's bottom line, not to mention, their employees. Teachers, on top of every other kooky social engineering agenda they are required to follow, will now have to be hypersensitive to all forms of sexual innuendo, horse play and of course websites.
To be sure, our culture will reap the rewards, of raising another generation of dissatisfied females, a breed of males who will never learn the fine art of delivering a compliment without first fearing the judge's chambers, and a long line of lawyers laughing all the way to the bank.
This article copyright © 1999 by Joyce Mucci and may not be reproduced in any form without the express written consent of its author. All rights reserved.