Repairing Relationships

Building intimacy and joy into your relationships

The Last Year of The "Prom Draft"?

Did the Prom tradition just jump the shark?

The Orange County (California) Register is reporting that at tony Corona Del Mar High School the girls are ranked  by physical appearance and personality  by the boys and subjected to a "Prom Draft". No, we are not kidding, This is actually going on in 2014. And in America, not some Third World backwater.  Boys submit to a lottery to get a draft number and then select a prom date from the pool of girls like the NFL draft. Boys can pay money to improve their draft position to choose a date for the big dance on June 7th.

Incredibly, the high school's female prinicpal, Kathy Scott, commented, "I am sure that the intention of this 'draft' is not to be harmful, but it may be." May be? Did Ms. Scott ask the poor unfortunate girl what it felt like to be chosen last in the whole high school? Boys never get over being chosen last for the pick up basketball game. Being labeled a 8th round draft pick by your peers is the thing that makes for a lifetime of therapy. And yet it appears to have been out in the open and condoned by the student government,  school officials, teachers and parents. Are there no feminists in Corona Del Mar?

Ms. Scott announced that there won't be another Prom Draft next year. But the damage has been done. Sadly, this is the next logical  step in a senseless general trend going on in the dating world. Men entertain lavishly on the first few dates and at at formal dances like the Prom, at a truly unsustainable level, to bedazzle their women. They  spare no expense in renting formal wear,  making reservations at a five star restaurant and hiring a driver to squire them around the town. No one questions the insanity involved here. For instance, since they aren't going to use a limousine as the family car once they marry and have children, why do men spend hundreds of dollars renting one for the formal dance? Limos are more than a mobile party that allows one to drive and drink legally- plenty of sober Mormon kids are renting them along with the party-hearty crew. It's all about excess and performing to ridiculous expectations.

Society approves of such ostentatious flaunting in the romantic world. It is a bold economic display of class with a hidden catch. By lavishly spending on the date or dance, there is incredible pressure for the date to culminate in the ultimate romantic fantasy. Throw compatibility, shared values, common world view or goals out the window- all that matters is a "happy ending" for this all night  drama. If either partner has legitimate reservations about the relationship, they are pressured to deny them for the evening, lest they become the party pooper. Then feminist writers wonder about the problem of date rape? This is no way to develop a healthy romance. Real relationships develop without someone forcing them to grow through artificial intimacy.

This phenomenon has grown more out of control over the last twenty years, so that the average high school senior faces a price tag of from $1000-$2000  for his Prom, including limo, tux, corsage, pictures, expensive candle light dinner, dance tickets, hotel room, breakfast etc. So instead of being a fun dance  for 3 hours on a Saturday night in the Springtime, the Prom has morphed into a huge all-night  financial burden that must be born to satisfy parental and teen peer pressure.  

This flamboyant Prom tradition is merely the natural expression of artificial intimacy at record levels of practice in our culture. It's no wonder that our children have picked up on our society's  emphasis on  the superficial values of looks and charm and now in at least one prominent high school have institutionalized it in a degrading Prom Draft. Theodore White wrote that "to go against the dominant thinking of your friends, of most of the people you see every day, is perhaps the most difficult act of heroism you can have." We urge men and women to heroically stand up against this destructive form of heterosexual courtship and marriage that has brought such heartbreak, degradation, self-loathing and shame to the  high school girls of Corona Del Mar.  

J.R. Bruns, M.D., is co-author of The Tiger Woods Syndrome, a book about repairing relationships.

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