Thursday, January 20, 2011

What Our Children Are Really Learning in School

Not that long ago – Friday, January 7, to be precise – I wrote about pop culture’s portrayal of women, specifically through music.

In “Parental Advisory: This Blog Quotes Offensive and Blatantly Misogynistic Material,” I argued that lyrical “art” these days is extremely oppressive to the female gender.

When women are only ever presented as sexual objects in word, why are we surprised when some people begin adopting that stereotype as the truth, especially when it’s reinforced in advertisements, movies and everyday life? Try going to a dance club or even just the mall and you’ll see the openly advertised “meat market” that allows men to ogle – if not more – at their leisure.

Even songs marketed as female friendly usually have some kick to them. For instance, singer/songwriter Pink put out a catchy ditty called “Stupid Girl,” which bemoans how women act in order to gain male attention. Yet she then proceeds to act exactly like those girls in her music video.

Yes, I understand that she’s mocking them, but what do you think men watching the music video are going to focus on: her words or the provocative images she openly displays?

I bring all of this up again so shortly after already addressing it because of a recent headline that caught my attention:

“Oak Park Student Suspended Over List of Girls”

OK, so that headline isn’t exactly earth shattering in and of itself. But it did pique my curiosity enough to click on it and read the rest.

Some little brat at some Illinois high school apparently thought it’d be a great idea to create a list of his female fellow classmates and rank them for looks and levels of promiscuity. Attentive to detail, the boy included what one student on the list termed as “racial slurs [and] hateful comments.”

Reading the story, I wasn’t all that shocked by the details. I don’t know about you, but after listening to the radio and watching movies and just going through life, I’m rather used to that kind of behavior. Though usually it’s on a smaller scale, it’s still the same attitude conveyed and accepted by many – both men and women – that women should be valued for their looks alone.

Now, let me be very clear: I am not in any way, shape or form condoning or excusing the list’s creator. He’s responsible for his own actions and deserves to feel thoroughly humiliated at his childish, self-centered and uncivilized behavior. And like any other such brat, he also deserves a thoroughly good spanking and a follow-up punishment of writing “I will not behave like a boorish prick” several thousand times on the blackboard in front of all the students he demeaned and humiliated.

If Boorishness Is the Lesson, Most of Us Are Getting As.

Then again, there are hundreds of thousands of other people out there who should suffer the same punishment: media moguls, show writers, actors, singers, models, song writers, choreographers, etc. who make their living by teaching that this way of thinking and behaving is not only acceptable, but enviable and appreciated.

It’s pathetic.

And it goes a long way to explain the recent survey that showed a mere 55% of college students showed “significant improvement in the key measures of critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing by the end of their sophomore years.”

Maybe that’s because supposedly “higher” education – much like the lower versions – flirts way too heavily with uninspiring indoctrination or maybe that’s because they’re much more focused on getting drunk and hooking up than on actually learning anything.

Or maybe it’s a mixture of the two. But can we really blame students for misbehaving when, as a culture, we promote that very conduct?

The answer, of course, is a resounding “Yes.”

And after we’re done putting them in their place – a place that is equal to their fellow human beings instead of elevated on high as being all-important – than maybe we should consider our own place as well.

It’s high time we start behaving as if there are consequences to our actions. Don’t you think?

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