Two Sides to Every Story: What Really Happened At the Richmond Homeschool Prom?

I admit it. I read the story about Clare being kicked out of her prom (the original post does contain profanity) — whether it was truly because the dads had complained that she was dressed too provocatively or because some of the women just thought so — and I was outraged.

I’m all about encouraging women and equality for women and ending the “blame the victim” culture in which we are so entrenched.

“You shouldn’t have been dressed like that.”

“You were asking for it.”

“It must have been punishment for your sin.” (That’s a favorite that I just learned about. Apparently church leaders are using that one.)

No, there was no rape involved in this story, but it’s all part of the same mentality. While common sense would tell us that certain dress is appropriate in certain situations, and Christian women are called to dress modestly (sorry, folks, it is in the Bible), I do not believe or condone the belief that what a woman wears is provocation for any kind of behavior, whether it’s shaming by another woman (or group of women) or harassment or physical assault by a male (or another woman, for that matter). We own our bodies, and no one has the right to take that away from us.

**Note 7/1/14: When I (and most reasonable people) talk about “dressing modestly”, it’s a focus on self-respect. You should care more about how YOU look and feel than about trying to make yourself look a certain way just to attract attention. When I mention it, in any context, it has nothing to do with tempting men. If a man is going to harass or rape, he’s going to do it regardless of what the woman is wearing. A woman’s clothing – no matter what she’s wearing – is never an invitation. The only way you can legitimately claim “she was asking for it” is if the words “have sex with me” came out of her mouth, and even then, she has the right to change her mind.  There’s a great post here that goes into this idea in more depth.**

I read a whole bunch of the comments, all in support of Clare. I read the two follow-up posts on Hannah’s blog (Clare is Hannah’s sister and while Clare wrote the original post, Hannah wrote the other two posts.), and some of the comments on those. Everyone seemed to be in support, and there were no dissenting comments.

Then I found out that I know someone in that area. And she knows kids who were at that prom. And Clare’s post didn’t tell the whole story.

Apparently the adults involved in the prom aren’t talking, but the other kids sure are.

“There are two sides to every story. Your side, my side, and the truth is somewhere in the middle.”

I don’t know who said that first, but it’s so true.

Clare’s post went viral, but posts telling “the other side” of the story don’t seem to be getting as much attention. Why would they? it’s not as exciting or sensational as a post about blaming the victim, especially when the victim is a pretty teenage girl.

Alexa is apparently a former homeschooler in the Richmond area, and while she admits she was not in attendance this year, she does know several people who were. Here’s her perspective.

Blogger calliehobbs (I’m assuming a real name is in there somewhere, but I don’t know for sure) says she was at the Richmond Homeschool Prom, and she tells a completely different story than Clare does.

Several bloggers have reposted Clare’s story with titles that blame the dads at the prom. As far as my personal experience goes, I’ve never had an uncomfortable experience with a homeschool dad. I’ve been around them for almost nine years now, and I have two cousins who are homeschool dads (so technically, I’ve been around them my whole life), and I’ve never caught one staring inappropriately at me, another homeschool mom, or a teen or child.

Obviously, homeschool dads are just as susceptible to the current patriarchal culture as other men, but they are not more susceptible. There isn’t a switch that’s flipped somewhere when a family starts homeschooling that turns Dad into a pervert and Mom into a robot who doesn’t notice. So we can stop vilifying homeschool dads now.

When bad things happen, we do need to get the word out, tell our stories, bring them to light. Things only get worse when we pretend nothing is wrong. But if we only tell the part of the story that makes for good news coverage or more blog readers, then we have done a disservice to ourselves and others.

I do not allow anonymous comments on my blog. Anyone is welcome to comment on this post, and if you were at the Richmond Homeschool Prom and have something to say, please do so. I will not remove any comments regardless of which side they support. I will, however, remove any comments that include name-calling (that includes “whore” or “slut”- if you can’t speak without resorting to name-calling, then don’t bother), or vulgar language (again, if you can’t speak without cursing, then go elsewhere).