The Literal First Lady

Apparently we have now sunk so far as a nation that our own government’s employees feel comfortable casting petty (and incorrect) insults at the President’s wife. A little over a week ago Bob Grisham, a high school psychology teacher in Alabama, went on a rant—in which he also made offensive remarks about gay people—attacking Michelle Obama’s physique:

Grisham made the derogatory remarks during a class debate on Jan. 27. He complained about the school’s low-calorie lunch menu, saying it was due to “fat butt Michelle Obama,” and added, “look at her. She looks like she weighs 185 or 190. She’s overweight.”

First of all: is he looking at the same Michelle Obama I’m looking at? Not only does she looks like she’s in great shape, but I’m pretty sure she’s in better shape than he is. More importantly, though, she is the First Lady of our country. I don’t understand how insulting her in any way could be acceptable, particularly for an adult in a position of authority over children.

Grisham’s school district agrees; they’ve suspended him without pay for 10 days, removed him from teaching duties for the remainder of the school year, and ordered him to attend sensitivity training.

Swearing: For Boys Only

A Catholic school asked their girls to take a pledge against using profanity at school. They asked nothing of the kind from the boys.

But some boys at the school felt snubbed, [a teacher] said, when they weren’t asked to take part.

“It was supposed to be a really sweet, innocent, special treat for the ladies specifically for the month of February kind of thing,” [she] said. “And I guess it made the boys feel a little slighted.”

I think this teacher needs to look up the definition of the word “treat”.

Also, this idea that girls (or women) are supposed to be the innocent, polite ones, while boys and men will naturally exhibit crass and rude behavior actually dehumanizes women. Unjustifiably glorifying women serves us little better than unjustifiably denigrating them.

7-Year-Old Indian Girl Raped in School Bathroom

Sources said that after recess as teachers returned to classes, one of the teachers saw the accused along with the girl. Sources said the principal also questioned the boy and he told her he had come to meet a student.

The girl returned to the class after recess and complained to her teacher of pain and of being “pinched”. The matter was referred to the principal who enquired into the matter along with other teachers.

A doctor later examined her and confirmed that she had been raped. Police have not yet caught the perpetrator.

I can only take comfort in my optimism that the information age will gradually subdue and—in practical terms—eradicate the rape culture that perpetuates this kind of violence. Legislation and enforcement will, of course, play a part, but the patriarchal attitudes and values that allow rape culture to flourish must ultimately crumble under the free exchange of ideas about equality and human worth.

I hope.

"A Feminized Setting"

Today National Review published an op-ed piece by Charlotte Allen, in which she contends that a male presence in Sandy Hook Elementary School could have prevented much of the slaughter:

In this school of 450 students, a sizeable number of whom were undoubtedly 11- and 12-year-old boys (it was a K–6 school), all the personnel—the teachers, the principal, the assistant principal, the school psychologist, the “reading specialist”—were female. There didn’t even seem to be a male janitor to heave his bucket at Adam Lanza’s knees. Women and small children are sitting ducks for mass-murderers… Male aggression can be a good thing, as in protecting the weak—but it has been forced out of the culture of elementary schools and the education schools that train their personnel. Think of what Sandy Hook might have been like if a couple of male teachers who had played high-school football, or even some of the huskier 12-year-old boys, had converged on Lanza.

This is asinine. As far as I can tell, there is no evidence that Dawn Hochsprung, the principal who attempted to charge Lanza, failed in her attempt because of her feminine weakness. She failed because Lanza had semi-automatic weapons and she did not. Suggesting that a male former football player could have fared better against multiple bullets is farcical, and wishing that some of the larger school children would have physically accosted the shooter borders on sociopathic.

Kids, Mental Illness and Violence

In light of the recent shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Jill Filipovic urges us to be careful when parsing these issues:

The terrifying truth is that sometimes, there is no easy “cure” for the mental illnesses that mean a lack of empathy and a propensity toward violence. What’s needed is ongoing treatment and enormous social support for people who are ill, because there’s often not one pill you can take to simply cure a complex problem. This mother, for example, writes about a son who has violent outbursts and who she seems to believe is actually capable of killing her. He’s 13. There aren’t many options for him—the best a social worker can offer is to get him convicted of a crime so that he’s in “the system.” But it’s pretty clear that “the system” is not a good place for mentally ill children (or mentally ill adults). At the same time, this boy is a physical threat not just to his mother, but to his siblings and the people he encounters every day. What it sounds like he needs is ongoing, regular mental health care and therapy in addition to medication (if they can ever find one that works). And he’s not the only one — as Feministe friend Kate Harding also pointed out, there are kids who fit the profile of psychopathy, whose treatment options are less than clear-cut.

I can certainly attest to this, having worked with several young men who clearly needed to be in more acute care than a group home but whose case workers or probation officers seemed to have no better solutions to offer them.

"We Were Only Allowed to be Friends"

December 7 is a day that will forever remain etched in my memory.

So far, I have not cried.

An anonymous contributor writes for Feminspire on coming out and dating her first girlfriend, then being bullied relentlessly at school and forbidden by the administration from attending prom as a couple.

Fantasy Slut League

The Varsity Boys of Piedmont High School have, for the past five or six years, been “drafting” female students (without their knowledge) and competing to score points by engaging in sexual acts with them—a disgusting practice the administration has just discovered.

The school is not planning to discipline the students involved, said Randall Booker, an assistant superintendent of educational services, nor would he discuss how many students might have been involved.

“Our focus really isn’t pinpointing the who or the details,” he said. “Our focus is really about having this continued conversations with kids, getting them to feel comfortable, getting them to learn why this is disrespectful, inappropriate.”

The Writing Revolution

Peg Tyre writes for The Atlantic on one school’s program to help failing students by teaching writing skills in nearly every class.

Common Core’s architect, David Coleman, says the new writing standards are meant to reverse a pedagogical pendulum that has swung too far, favoring self-­expression and emotion over lucid communication. “As you grow up in this world, you realize people really don’t give a shit about what you feel or what you think,” he famously told a group of educators last year in New York.

People always underestimate liberal studies, but my writing skills definitely earned me better grades in non-literary subjects.

Plan B Now Available in NYC Schools

Plan B is the morning-after pill that doesn’t prevent implantation and therefore does not fit the typical pro-life definition of an “abortion pill”.

The program that distributes Plan B in 13 New York City schools has been in place for almost 2 years, but no one noticed until it started offering students the morning-after pill.