Filed under: education, Gender politics | Tags: High School Drama, Legally Blonde, objectification, Playboy Bunny
On a trip to the suburbs, I met a woman whose daughter had been a star of her high school drama department. She told me stories of her daughter’s triumphs and among them was a minor character in Legally Blonde, the Musical. She told me that her daughter’s teacher wanted her to play the lead but she and her husband had nixed it because of “modesty.” “Because of the bunny outfit,” she said. Apparently, the show requires that the lead dress as a Playboy bunny.
And here’s where a radical liberal feminist like me starts to agree with the feelings of a conservative, religious set of parents. I mean, why in the world is a young teenage girl required to dress up like a Playboy bunny in order to be in her high school play? Is sexual objectification educationally necessary? I was horrified. And horrified that this dilemma is likely being played out in high schools all over the country.
I was ready to storm that drama department. Which is where this family and I diverge. The daughter and parents were all fine with the decision they made. It’s just how it is for them. Me, I think this kid should have been able to wear whatever the hell she wanted. Why not a full body pajama bunny suit if a bunny suit was required?
Playboy bunny? Fine – as long as it’s her choice and not some icky drama department compulsion. I say this as someone who put up with the nickname of “cleavage ” in high school, starting at age 14, due to a costume I wore in a musical. I didn’t object to the dress at the time and might not object to it now. But I wonder about further extremes on the scale, like the one in this play. Every day girls are put in inappropriate costumes due to zealous drama teachers or the demands of a play that wasn’t written for their age group.
I know that once girls make their way into the professional world, there will be no stopping the extreme objectification but until then – can we please just let these girls be the kids they are? A kid shouldn’t have to wear a Playboy bunny outfit in school. Not if she doesn’t want to. And deciding she doesn’t want to shouldn’t prevent her from participating in the educational experience of playing a part in a play.
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