I have blogged about school balls before. I thought I was over it. But it just keeps popping up like a painful blister from wearing high heels (apparently – I don’t wear heels – I get altitude sickness – and I never passed my femininity licence).
A school has decided it can veto the style of dress worn. The main issue is the amount of skin being shown. Now on the face of it, that does sound a little OTT. However, it is a Catholic school. Why should that make a difference? Well, it is about what values the school is upholding. This is a religious school, with a particular set of ideologies and beliefs about modesty and the body. So I am not shocked that they have taken this stance. I’m more shocked that people attending the school would be. I think some people forget that Christianity is a religion.
Schools already have a sense of ownership around policing bodies, uniforms do that well and this is a school event.It kind of fits with representing the school image, like sports teams. What I do take issue with is not being able to take shoes off if they are hurting. Those wearing high heels have to suffer in order to maintain the forced gender code of femininity even if it results in excruciating pain and discomfort. I can see that being a fun night on the dance floor. My tip – just don’t wear heels or take two pairs of shoes, one for show and one for go! Another solution is to have uniform ball dresses, now there’s an idea – along with uniform ball jewellery. Let’s go all the way and have set hair styles and makeup. For guys lets say they must keep their tie and jacket on all night, gotta have some gender equality somewhere.
So as all schools head into ball season lets get a bit of a reality check. It is an old tradition we haven’t quite integrated into the 21st-century ideas of diversity and difference. It is the ‘Straightrix’ – like The Matrix that codes all forms of gender and sexuality norms. If you know that you can choose to take the blue pill for the night (no I am not encouraging drug use – see the movie!) go for it and have a fun night.
All across New Zealand, High Schools are gearing up for Ball season. It’s a curious event The School Ball, generations have experienced it. I’m from a time when we actually had to formal dance and I was secretly delighted having been sent to ballroom dancing lessons and couldn’t wait to show off my skills. But I’m not sure if that is something young people miss or want, I’d be interested to find out. If we are going to hold onto such a tradition should we be making more of an effort to hold onto some of the rituals that came with The Ball up until a few years ago. Some of the markers of the modern ball are schools recognising that not everyone wants to take someone of the opposite sex and I think this is a change worth celebrating.
I do know, that regardless of your date, a lot of effort goes into preparing. It is a chance to dress up for a night and some of the worries about the big night are just the same. Do parents still give ‘the talk?’ and the ‘curfew’ or has the age of technology enabled a more fluid kind of arrangement? I know we never had ‘the Police talk’ but then our ‘after ball’ was a few mates around with the record player/tape deck (now there is a generation marker for you) turned up loud. I’ve got a feeling after balls have taken on a whole new meaning or am I missing something? What does The School Ball actually mean to young people and do we still need it? What do parents think of it? Is the After Ball actually more important? And how is technology influencing the capturing of the moment the good the bad and the ‘ugly.’ Read More…