Thursday, October 23, 2014

Open Letter to Belleville District 118 on Sexual Traumatizing of Female Students

I have been silent.  Despite the overwhelming body of evidence that dress codes derived from the sexualitization of young girls result in clinical depression, eating disorders, reduced cognitive function, sexual dysfunction and professional inhibition[i]; I have not said anything.  I have chosen to combat the misinformation being internalized by my daughter, as a result of your dress codes which have no basis in social research, at home.  However, my daughter’s report of what is going on in the health class she has recently began will not allow me to remain silent any longer.

According to my daughter’s retelling of the instructor’s lesson, she told them that "self-pleasure is a form of self harm," and like all other forms of sex it should be avoided.  I was aghast, even first telling her there was no way this was being sanctioned and taught in a 21st century public school classroom. Yes, Kellog, Freud, and others taught this kind of nonsense in the early twentieth century but a hundred years of medical and psychology research has thoroughly debunked and rebutted these unscientific ideas.[ii]

Current research finds that masturbation in adolescent girls is an early indicator of future sexual health.  “One of the best predictors of whether a woman will be able to achieve orgasm in her sexual relations is a history of masturbation in adolescence.”[iii]  This kind of misinformation and stigmatization of natural and beneficial human behavior is counterproductive in society’s goal to create safe healthy sexual beings. As Masters and Johnson wrote “Although masturbation is the safest sex of all, negative feelings that may be associated with it can threaten one’s individual health and well-being.”[iv]

With the preponderance of research supporting the fact that self pleasure increases abstinence levels, improves sexual health, and reduces spread of STIs[v] it is unacceptable you would employ an instructor who would teach these thoroughly debunked and puritanical ideas.

This brings me full circle to my original criticisms of the district’s dress code.[vi] This dress code perpetuates rape culture by sexualizing our daughters and making them responsible for the “distraction” of their male peers. It is not a far stretch from, “It’s your fault he can’t concentrate on his school work;” to “It is your fault he could not control himself and sexually assaulted you.” I wonder about the harmful attitudes being forced on these young women.  Are we teaching these girls to play their sexually inhibited gender role, while teaching the glory of the male conquest in our male health classes? Are the young men also being taught that masturbation is a form of self harm; or is this attitude reserved for castigating our daughters into their proper gender roles?

I am including below a further reading section.  Parts are taken from the previously referenced research and others from additional source material available online.

For the sake of our daughters and their future as the women of our society it is your task to educate them using science, not myths and stigmatizations.   

Thank you,
Kevin J. Bowman and Christi L. Bowman


Dress Coded: An education on Unnecessary Sexualization -

EMAILED 10-23-14 To:
Rock Horrighs - CJHS Principal -
Lacey Schmersahl - CJHS Dean of Students -
Tim Baum - CJHS PE Instructor -
Joan Hasenstab - Raider Way Instructor  -
Wendy Gallaher - Learning Lab Instructor -
Matt Klosterman - District Superintendent -

[v] ibid
[vi] As a side note, it is unacceptable that I as a parent can not find a copy an actual copy of said dress code on the district website. Without a clear and defined document available to me I am left to assume the enforcement is arbitrary and subjective.


Jema said...

Well done, dad. You rocked that.

Sheldon Cooper said...

Good for you for speaking out.

wayne surratt said...

I linked to your blog through craigslist. I think you hurt your message by including two related but not dependent issues. Separate them. You need to know if the instructor's comments were part of the planned curriculum or if they were personal opinion. Your angle of attack will be different for each and your reader needs to know what was wrong.
On the dress code, what is the dress code and what is wrong with it? Is it the actual rules, the language or the enforcement? I feel like these are two complex issues that are related, but you don't illustrate the nexus that I think you think you do.
Before dropping a letter, I'd make public comment to the school board, and then when they blow you off, which they will, then send the open letter.
If the teacher was teaching off curriculum with the personal perspective, then I would go to the superintendant with a written complaint.