A troubling list of victim-blaming guidelines for girls attending their first dance went viral on the internet - and people are not happy about it.
While church or school regulations can be rather strict, it's understood that they were created in order to maintain a certain kind of decorum while in a place of worship or learning. However, one church, in particular, took it way too far when they issued "first dance guidelines" to girls - yes, just the girls - attending a dance. Not only did the guidelines include ridiculous slut-shaming and victim-blaming under the guise of avoiding impropriety, but they also induced a certain idea of guilt for a girl's right to say no, suggesting that girls, at all times, say yes when a boy asks her to dance. The guidelines went viral on the internet when concerned mother Ashlee Allen Fegan posted a photo of them to social media platform Facebook.
Uploading a photo of the guidelines, she wrote, "Nope, NOPE, NOOOOO! Not happening with my daughter! This paper came home from church with the daughter of a friend." While it may sound like Ashlee was overreacting, you definitely wouldn't think so if you happened to read the so-called guidelines. The first one tells girls to wear clothes that meet the "approved dress standards," which is, in all fairness, a reasonable suggestion to make. However, it gets worse. The guidelines read, "You don't want the embarrassment of being asked to go home and change. And you don't want the guy dancing with you to feel uncomfortable because of the questionable outfit that you somehow justified." Therefore, not only was the church suggesting that there are ways to be embarrassed about the clothes a girl wears, but also that they should be held responsible for the way boys feel about their clothes.
Now, while the guidelines state this, they also affirm, "Never say no to a guy who had the courage to walk over and ask you to dance in the first place. A song lasts approximately three minutes, it's not THAT bad." To that, we only have one thing to say: It definitely is THAT bad. There is no reason a girl, especially one attending her first ever dance, needs to feel compelled to say yes when she does not want to. Way to fail at teaching consent in the very early stages where it matters most. Strangely enough, the guidelines also ask girls to bring a friend - but be "approachable" enough for a boy to ask them to dance. Our heads are already spinning and we're grown adults - how is a young girl supposed to feel about all these rules and restrictions? At the end of the day, the church only adds to problematic rape culture, wherein girls and women are blamed for the actions of boys and men. To this we say no more - boys will not be boys. Boys will be held accountable for their actions, just as girls are. If anything, the church should be embarrassed for perpetuating troubling gender roles and putting impressionable youngins in their formative years at risk. As an institution, y'all need to do better.