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October 10, 2012

Norwin High School Bra Dance

Norwin High School, Norwin PA, home of the Bra Dance

Let's talk about Norwin High School and their Homecoming Dance. First, a little quantitative context.

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 19% of Norwin School District graduates required remediation in mathematics and/or reading before they were prepared to take college level courses in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education or community colleges.

In 2010,

  • 81% of 11th grade students are reading at 11th grade level.
  • 73% of 11th grade students are doing math at 11th grade level.
  • 56% of 11th grade students are doing science at 11th gradelevel.

So you can see, there's some things they should be paying attention to.

From today's Post-Gazette:

Norwin School District has taken unspecified disciplinary action against an unspecified number of students in the wake of a high school homecoming dance which ended with an outside disc jockey posing in a photo holding bras.

In a statement released today about the Sept. 29 dance, school district officials say the district "has investigated this matter fully and appropriate disciplinary action was administered to students who behaved inappropriately."

Disc jockey Eric Wenning of Wenning Entertainment was playing the last song of the dance and talking with a chaperone when some girls started throwing bras over decorative Christmas lights hanging from the ceiling.

A staff member took a photo of the DJ holding two or three bras with a shocked look on his face, which was posted on Facebook. School officials asked him to take it down, which he did. Although he has worked several dances in the past, the district's news release said he will not be asked back.

The district's news release said, "Although no video or photographs depicted students engaged in inappropriate behavior, the photo in question was an inappropriate photo of the disc jockey."

A year ago, American Eagle displayed 4,000 bras along the Hot Metal Bridge to call attention to breast cancer. It looked like this:

The last two weeks, American Eagle's corporate campus at South Side works has had a display of a pink ribbon made out of brassieres, along with a tree garnished with hanging bras, in this year's "Treasure Your Chest" consciousness-raising campaign:

Question One for the Norwin School Board: If this is the timeframe for Pink Activities building awareness of Breast Cancer, supported by the local community and local corporate leaders, why are you penalizing female students for embracing this essential message?

Feminist philosophy has undertaken significant discussions of brassieres. Germaine Greer wrote, "Bras are a ludicrous invention"; many feminists consider the imposition of the bra as a societal norm to be oppressive and patriarchal, reducing women to sex objects. In any feminist protest, tossing brassieres would be an act of protected political speech.

Question Two for the Norwin School Board: if the tossing of brassieres is a recognized political statement, why are you disciplining female students (and noticably not any male students, seems like disparate impact, which is discriminatory) for exercising protected free speech?

Question Three for the Norwin School Board: don't you know about the Streisand Effect, the internet 2.0 phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide or remove a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely?

It's what happens when you attempt to abuse your relative authority over 17-year-old girls and freelance disk jockeys, attempt to exterminate a minor story, and get far more publicity than if you'd just left it alone.

Question Four for the Norwin School Board: Half of the junior class can't do science at 11th-grade level, and this is what you're paying attention to? Really? What boobs.


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