After male classmates circulated a list ranking them by appearance, a group of teen girls decided they had enough of “boys will be boys” culture, and took matters into their own hands when they decided that the boys didn’t receive adequate punishment.
The Washington Post reports that the list, which made the rounds earlier this month at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in Maryland, ranked 18 girls by their looks (with a scale ranging from 5.5 to 9.4). The list was reportedly created a year ago, but circulated again this month through text messages and class gossip.
After the list was reported to a school administrator, the student who created it was punished with just one day in detention, which wouldn’t be put on his permanent record.
In response, the girls fought back: Around 40 female students showed up at the assistant principal’s office to demand change, resulting in a two-and-a-half hour meeting held on International Women’s Day with about 80 students in the school. During the meeting, girls made speeches about experiencing sexual abuse, harassment, and objectification, in and outside of the school.
“I feel it when walking home from school, I get catcalled by a man in a truck who repeatedly asks me to get in his car, and follows me home when I don’t,” Rose Frank, one of the girls on the list, said. “I feel it when my mother tells me that my third ear piercing will ‘send the wrong message’ in a workplace setting, and that in the future it’s best to let my hair down for job interviews.”
The boy responsible for the list spoke to the Post on condition of anonymity, and admitted that it was a “stupid decision” to rank his classmates, and recalled the intensity of being “directly confronted” for his actions.
“When you have a culture where it’s just normal to talk about that, I guess making a list about it doesn’t seem like such a terrible thing to do, because you’re just used to discussing it,” he said, adding that he recognizes his “privilege” as a “white guy at a very rich high school,” and said that he’s glad his classmates spoke up. He’s now part of a small group of students who meet every week to talk about preventing future incidents like this one from occurring.
“It’s just a different time and things really do need to change,” he said. “This memory is not going to leave me anytime soon.”