failed stand-up comic Texas school administrator was trying to keep things lively and fun at a school assembly recently, and in an attempt to speak to the kids in a way they’d understand, he wound up making an appallingly shitty joke that blamed the girls and their bodies for all the male students’ crummy grades and test scores, because if the boy next to you is failing geometry, obviously it’s your fault.
According to Click2Houston, an administrator at Clements High School in Fort Bend County, Texas, was addressing an auditorium full of upperclassmen and trying to get them to dress more conservatively. But rather than say, “Dress more conservatively. Bare stomachs are not appropriate for school,” he tried to use humor. It came out like this:
“Ladies, I know you’ve been working on your abs since the Olympics, right? But your shirts can’t be up here. It’s gotta cover the whole gut. Ladies, I blame you all for boys’ low grades because of tight clothing,” he said.
Ugh. Can’t he just sit backwards in a chair or grow a ponytail or something? It’d be pathetic, but less so than attempting to get through to the kids with a ham-fisted attempt at humor that was just an overt display of sexism. Male and female students alike report being offended by the remarks. The men did not appreciate the implication that they are academic magpies incapable of remembering the quadratic equation if they see a woman’s belly button. The women did not appreciate being told their bodies were responsible for the test scores of other students.
“We get the humor he was trying to do, but at the same time I feel like it was inappropriate as he was talking down to students,” said student Sahil Swapenesh.
As is usually the case in situations like these, some poor school district representative was left having to disavow any responsibility for the administrator’s utterly misguided attempt at jocularity.
“These comments should not have been made, and do not represent the beliefs of Fort Bend ISD or the Clements administrative team or faculty,” the spokesperson said, probably while biting back an exhausted groan. “We have high expectations for both students and staff. Our goal is to provide a safe, positive learning environment where all students feel supported and valued.”
Girls and women are far too often told that they are responsible for the thoughts and actions of other people, but they’re not. If the school wants all the students to show up in business casual attire, fine. But the administrator’s comments were disrespectful to the entire student body. It’s not appropriate to tell a bunch of high school girls that they’re responsible for what’s going on in the heads of their male classmates. And it’s not appropriate to treat a bunch of high school boys like they’re completely devoid of agency just because they’re teenagers.