Students slam Michigan Catholic school’s sexist victim-blaming

Students are protesting
Divine Child High School in Dearborn, MIchigan. Screen capture by WXYZ-TV Detroit Channel 7 via YouTube video

A Michigan Catholic school is facing scrutiny after a minister at the campus told female students the way they dress may be to blame for men objectifying them.

Those remarks didn’t sit well with dozens of female students of Dearborn-based Divine Child High School, where the remarks were made May 31 during a theology class that focused on sexual harassment, Newsweek reports. According to WXYZ-TV, some of the comments were recorded.

“Those younger guys go oh, that is how you talk about women, that’s how you look at women, as an object, something to be dissected,” the unidentified minister is heard saying. “Ladies, if you dress provocative, if you dress and leave absolutely nothing to the imagination younger girls look and go ‘oh my gosh, she’s got plenty of boys around her.'”

So about 40 of the girls and young women decided to protest by pinning paper targets on their uniforms and putting up posters that read, according to the Detroit Free Press:

“Instead of publicly shaming girls for dressing how they want, teach men not to over-sexualize women’s bodies.”

The sign also included a Bible verse from the book of Matthew that summed up this sentiment:

“And I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Students also said school officials threatened them with one hour of detention if they didn’t remove the paper targets from their uniforms, WXYZ reported. The school’s faculty is denying this.

This isn’t the school’s first controversial move. Last year it came under fire for its plan to distribute “modesty ponchos” during the prom. The ensuing backlash caused the school to withdraw that plan.

A father of one of the girls, who remained anonymous due to retribution concerns, told the station:

“He was telling a woman if you dress a certain way then you are asking for it.”

The man also said some of the students were threatened with suspension if they continued protesting.

School faculty has responded with a statement.

“Administration at Divine Child High School recently became aware of concerns from some students about a recent presentation given to all ninth-graders, over the course of May 28-31st, covering students’ rights, responsibilities, and situations they may face while participating in Christian service opportunities.”

“Our students’ comfort, safety, and well-being are paramount to their experience at Divine Child High School, and we are taking all concerns seriously.”

The statement also said the issue had been discussed with students and parents and that comments from stakeholders were welcome.

In conclusion, the statement read:

“While we are confident in the message and value of the program, this input from our community has and will help us continue to improve our delivery of this important information to our students.”

Let’s hope this means the school will no longer shame girls and will instead teach boys to act with respect. Kudos to the girls who stood up for themselves and refused to be blamed.

Featured image courtesy of the video above