The L.A. Times recently reported on an NFL-style draft for prom dates that happened at the Corona del Mar high school in Newport Beach, a town that was launched into the national spotlight in 2003 with the television show, The. O.C.. Sadly, it appears as if the TV version of life in Orange County was kindler and gentler than the reality. Reportedly, over 60 male students participated in a draft to select prom dates, with some students stating that money exchanged hands to get higher draft numbers. Many students defended the practice saying it was designed to avoid conflict for dates; however, there are several significant problems that have not been noted yet in current media coverage of the story. As a former high school teacher and author of: Gender, bullying, and harassment: Strategies to end sexism and homophobia in schools, there are many facts about this case that I find troubling.
I gotta hand it to the principal. She tried to be proactive and discourage the ‘draft’ by sending a letter out to the school community and encouraging parents to discuss this with their children. A school board member is also calling for ‘ethics training’ for the whole school. I applaud these adults who are trying to provide some guidance for these over-privileged students and better prepare them to be conscientious adults. However, a larger response is needed. This is still a quiet, local story, and I’m surprised that there hasn’t been more uproar in the media. What this says is that the rest of us expect such behaviors, and until we tell our youth that we find these acts as reprehensible as Sterling’s racist remarks, or the kidnapping of the Nigerian girls, then we will continue to perpetuate a sexist world where men make all the decisions and women cross their fingers and hope for the best.