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What are we valuing with a homecoming queen contest?

On Behalf of | Mar 25, 2021 | Firm News |

This story, “Florida school principal, daughter arrested for allegedly hacking student accounts to cast homecoming votes“, is a distraction from real life but it tells us a bit about ourselves.   I am not sure that state law enforcement should be focused on vote-rigging for homecoming queen. On the other hand, we can all groan at the pathetic nature of this crime.

The idea that falsely winning homecoming queen warrants hacking hundreds of student computers feels like a distinctly American crime.

Why do we still have homecoming queens? A combination of faux royalty and gender objectification of high school students seems to belong to another century.  These contests make more people feel inadequate than valued.

And what are we valuing with such a contest? This is not an award for charity or discipline in body or mind.  This contest says — you should aspire to look like this person who personifies a phony image. It comes from an era when girls took home ec and boys took metal shop.

Some favor these contests on the ground that it promotes traditional values —by that they mean marriage between men and women.  Really? What successful marriage is built on the image of the bride as a symbol of a “perfect“ person?

Perhaps if we want to take teen depression, eating disorders, and suicide seriously, we should stop promoting impossible to achieve baloney as an aspiration.   Oh by the way— it’s really, really bad for people who feel unattractive or questioning their sexuality or think that the image of a good woman is one who uses her wit or her courage more than her fashion sense and makeup application.

But perhaps the most destructive part is the training we give to young men about what a young woman should be:   The roots of campus sexual assault and glass ceilings in corporate life can be found in the fantasy that nice girls look and act a certain way and that others deserve less respect.