In a now-viral video from the Soddy-Daisy High School in Tennessee, Assistant Principal and Athletic Director Jared Hensley reminded the students about the designated dress code that they need to follow. Specifically, he comments that athletic shorts are not allowed—even though the boys might think it's unfair.
To put it bluntly, his words are disgusting:
"If you really want someone to blame, blame the girls. 'Cause they pretty much ruin everything. They ruin the dress code, they ruin…well, ask Adam. Look at Eve. That's really all you really gotta get to, okay. You can really go back to the beginning of time. So it'll be like that the rest of your life. Get used to it, just keep your mouth shut, suck it up, follow the rules."
If you want to see it with your own eyes, here you go:
I'll give you a minute to breathe…
A person that is designated as a leader of children carries the responsibility of teaching and cultivating the values of respect. Mr. Hensley, you have done exactly the opposite.
Pitting boys against girls by blaming the creation of unfair policies on them instills a dangerous mindset that has the potential to be perpetuated for a lifetime.
Don't like the dress code? Blame those girls with the too-short athletic shorts.
Don't like the sexual harassment policy at your job? Blame those women who spoke up about being groped by a co-worker.
Don't like that you have to "be scared" around women now because you are afraid that you might do something that warrants an FBI investigation 36 years later? Blame the women that have spent the last thousands of years being scared around men—who now wish to inform you that time. is. up.
To the boys who don't like that they can't wear their favorite shorts, know this:
Girls, women—and many other marginalized people—cannot go a day without thinking about their personal safety.
"I shouldn't walk down this stairwell because it's unlit and someone could be hiding under them."
"They told me I shouldn't dress in a way that would encourage someone to assault me, so I guess I'll wear this sweater."
Mr. Hensley. You had the privilege of being a role model to the youth, and you had the audacity to use the opportunity to blame girls for the culture we live in. A culture that, instead of teaching the value of human dignity, teaches that some people matter more than others.
You also assume that the boys you are speaking to will go along with you. Most of the boys who are mildly bothered by the dress code are going to grow up into upstanding citizens who work alongside women to drown out the misogynistic drumbeat of our society.
To those boys, we see you, we know you are good, and we appreciate you.
To the girls who "ruined" the dress code, and the world apparently, know this:
You follow a long line of girls who have helped to ruin some of the world's gravest injustices:
- Harriet Tubman
- Lucretia Mott
- Elizabeth Cady Stanton
- Jeannette Rankin
- Susan B. Anthony
- Rosa Parks
- Coretta Scott King
- Eleanor Roosevelt
- Shirley Chisholm
- Gloria Steinem
- Naomi Parker Fraley
- Malala Yousafzai
- Ruth Bader Ginzberg
- Hilary Clinton
- Dr. Christine Blasey Ford
Do not let anyone make you feel guilty for being you. YOU are everything you need to be, and you are a driving and powerful force of change.
I do have to tell you, that your assistant-principal did get one thing correct in his statement when he said that "It will be like this the rest of your life."
That is true. This will be an injustice that you will fight for the rest of your life.
But here's the thing: We are in a sensationally powerful period of history. Things are tough, but the momentum is in your favor. Your voice matters, and how you respond to transgressions—whether they that impact you directly or not—will change the landscape of the world.
Maya Angelou wrote that "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
Mr. Hensley. When the frenzy that you created calms down, your words and actions will be forgotten. But the fury that you have made people feel will not.
Thank you for the reminder that we can't stop fighting. Time's up.