A few days back my daughters friend came home and told her mother, a close friend of mine, that at the year 6 formal that if a boy asks a girl to dance with them that they should not say no because it could ‘offend’ the young boy.
On hearing this I asked my 12 year old and she confirmed that yes they had been encouraged to accept ALL offers so they do not upset someone.
This was repeated around 5 times to the children, both year 5 and 6 students.
At dance practice today a friend of hers, ‘Jane’ was quite upset because she has been persistently asked out by a young man but has politely refused each time, he went straight up to her and asked her to dance today and she once again politely refused to which the teacher said ‘ oh come on Jane have a go’ and then forced them to dance together in front of the class much to Janes obvious discomfort.
I remember being forced to dance with boys at my year 6 dance and was mortified but was always told that we shouldn’t upset the boys and whilst some of you may not think this is a ‘serious issue’ or something worth writing about but I fucking do!
It is 2018, we are in the midst of massively needed changes, we are witness to the #metoo movement, watching cases like the Christine Blasey Ford case unfold and hearing contradictory information coming from everyone from the left and the right camps as far up as the Pussy grabbing president of the United States but one thing we as parents are trying to teach our boys and girls no matter what our political stance is is that CONSENT IS A REAL THING!
I have taught my girls that they have the right to SAY NO to ANYONE AT ANYTIME no matter what the situation, if they feel uncomfortable they have THE RIGHT TO SAY NO!
If they are wearing a short skirt they have THE RIGHT TO SAY NO!
If they drank too much the have THE RIGHT TO SAY NO!
If they decide they no longer want to do something even after initially agreeing they have THE RIGHT TO SAY NO!
If it is their friend, family member, teacher, doctor, cousin or partner they have THE RIGHT TO SAY NO!
We have no idea what a child is going through at home, a child has no voice in an abuse situation, I was that child, then to go to school and be told that they can not say No in case they offend someone, what kind of message is that?!
They are telling our young girls that they do not have the right to upset a young boy, that a boy being offended is worse than a girl being placed in a position that leaves her feeling uncomfortable.
They are teaching our young girls at a very impressionable age their bodies are still not really their own especially in situations where hearing No makes others feel uncomfortable.
They are teaching young boys that they need not fear rejection now or in the future because girls are not allowed to say no, that they will get what they want when they want it no matter the other persons objections.
They are teaching them that consent is just something we talk about but are unwilling to enforce in case we ‘offend them’ or make them face the reality that they will hear NO in their lives more than once.
I have not spent the past 12 years teaching her to be strong enough to say no in any situation for it to be destroyed in a day so I contacted the school and expressed my concerns and explained in no uncertain terms that my daughter will not be forced to accept a dance request, she will not be punished for doing exactly what I’ve taught her to do her entire life.
The school received quite a few phone calls and was understanding about the situation and thankfully they agreed that forcing the children to accept a slow dance was unnecessary and have agreed to make necessary changes to allow children to do only what they feel comfortable with.
Both boys and girls were upset at the situation, parents of both boys and girls were upset at the situation and I am glad we resolved this issue although I am sure we will face many more throughout our lifetime.
No matter what though I think we can all agree that everyone no no matter what age and what gender EVERYONE HAS THE FUCKING RIGHT TO SAY NO!