Last week a teenage girl from Virginia posted a rather one-sided screed to her sister’s blog complaining that she’d been unfairly ejected from a dance party, because… well, because that sort of thing is incredibly important to teenage girls. Which probably should have been the end of it… except a whole flock of online activists stumbled upon the story, relabeled it “a vile example” of “a sexist conspiracy,” and sensationalized the story until it went viral and wound up all over the national news services (who really should know better).
This illustrates why one shouldn’t completely rely upon unverified internet blogs (including TheGrype.com!) to do your thinking for you. If you read something on a blog that interests or upsets you, investigate further before adopting some blog whinge as your latest call to action… otherwise, expect to get clobbered when the REST of the facts emerge down the line.
It’s all about intellectual honesty. Various “sick dirty old men” and “perverted thoughts by grown Christian men over an underage homeschooler’s body” comments in the case are purely the concoction of manipulative bloggers who keep spinning the story to generate outrage. Same with accusations of “racism” (brought in by the external bloggers) and assorted bible thumping (also brought in by unaffiliated commentators eager to use the story to bolster their personal policy points). Meanwhile, representatives of the young lady in question have taken the opportunity to begin accepting monetary donations from the public, to monetize the media attention.
Sorry, but this story is a perfect example of how opportunists of all stripes are willing to skew the facts and create the proverbial tempest in a teapot.
The actual headline of the original report should probably read “homeschooled teenage girl sent home from prom-style dance event for inappropriate behavior and wearing a dress that barely met pre-established dress code.”
Posted pictures of the garment make it obvious the dress was as short as possible within the established parameters of what was allowable— barely inside the line. Any dress that short, if tightly-fitted, might expose the wearer indecently if inappropriate dancing were to occur. This was a private event (not a public school sponsored one) to allow homeschooled kids— many strictly Christian— to experience a traditional style prom/party. The organizers can therefore set and enforce whatever rules (and exceptions) they see fit. If we ignore all the bloggy trigger-language, the basic facts are pretty unsensational.
The people chaperoning the event apparently ruled her garb sufficiently scandalous (and her behavior sufficiently obnoxious) that it warranted refunding her money and sending her home, which they did. Case closed. One accusation being made is that this was somehow a case of “slut shaming,” but I don’t think that epithet applies. Rather, I think the official rule “the dress should come down at least as far as the tip of your fingers,” comes with an unspoken caveat that “if the proper finger-tip length dress ALSO threatens to expose your junk, you’ll probably be asked to leave.”
I sympathize that her evening was ruined— but still. Because of the reactionary internet outrage generated by this— “girl gets kicked out of dance party unfairly”— those who ran the event have been receiving DEATH THREATS. Whole websites and Facebook pages are being spam-bombed and taken down in a cloud of screaming vitriol. WTF?
Admittedly, I find the fact that a teenage girl can be sent home from a dance party, then come online and arouse an overblown army of internet supporters who will viciously attack people over it— to be curious and strange, in the same way I find it odd that some rancher in Nevada can illegally graze his cattle for free at taxpayer expense for decades until finally pressed to pay his million dollar bill, at which time he can go online and somehow summon a small army of armed militants to terrorize everyone in his neighborhood on his behalf.
Of course, if that girl had worn a dress that was a few inches longer, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. No one would. And rightly so.
But clicks are being earned, and views are being tallied, and money is being made. So, I guess that’s just how it works. I bet I can come up with an even JUICIER headline for the same story:
“Gang of Old Perverted Jesus Freaks Abuse Underage Child By Slut-Shaming Her Party Dress And Kicking Her Out Of Her Beloved Dream Dance.”
I bet that would get a lot of clicks and views. Please send me money for my emotional suffering, and thanks for viewing.