Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: That's Inappropriate!

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  • Lilith __,

    My problem is more, yes, the attitude in the follow-up pieces, that being a ‘slut’ is something so terrible that it’s worth making a teenager miserable to keep her off that terrible destructive path.

    What I hate about anybody being called a slut is that it's fundamentally sexist: it's not OK for a woman to be sexually available, whereas for a male it's often a matter for pride.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3470 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    Indeed. “Amethyst”, as merely a coloured variety of quartz, is less precious – but that can’t be it, otherwise “Jade” would be a more problematic name than “Diamond” (on which, see the Boomtown Rats song).

    I went to school with a girl called Crystal Rock (or, as it appeared on the daily rolls, Rock, Crystal). True story.

    I think the "acceptable" gem names are short - Jade, Ruby, Pearl, Opal, Beryl, Crystal, Jewel, etc. - and have sounds that we associate with women's names - Jade has the "ay" sound common to a lot of first names, many women's names end in "ee" sounds, Ruby pairs with names like Susie or Becky (or Lucy), the -l endings pair with names like Rachel or Sheryl.

    But words like "Amethyst", "Diamond", or "Emerald" are long and fussy and don't sound like women's names, at least not English ones. "Sapphire" is the only long gem name I can think of that is vaguely name-acceptable, and it ends in a vowel-heavy syllable, where none of the other three do. There aren't a lot of common women's names that don't end in vowels, -l, or -r. Men's names often end in consonants (Donald, Gerald, etc.) (Another true story: the "original" version of "Frodo", based on the Scandinavian languages Tolkein studied, would be "Froda"; Tolkein changed it because it sounded too girly in English.)

    Logical follow-through to all this: someone really needs to name a son Emerald and a daughter Tourmaline or Aquamarine (pairs with Clementine, with which I am sadly burdened.)

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    I'm finding the cloaked use of the name as a class signifier really annoying, myself. Partially because it's a sniffy way of labelling someone as working class and dismissing them (while not in any way acknowledging that's what is happening, as we definitely don't have a class system here in NZ, oh no). And also partially because a lot of the people I know who've given their kids pretentious names are actually extremely wealthy. It's like: name your children after certain kinds of mineral, alcohol, or abstract concept ("Amethyst", "Chardonnay", "Harmony", etc) and you're a fucking prole and we shouldn't expect any more from you or, indeed, your children, you fucking slag, she's no better than she should be, etc. Give your kids French names when you have absolutely no connection with France, and you're a solid upper-middle class taxpayer.

    This is a bit of a personal niggle, mind. Then again, I've never quite gotten over my experience when I registered my first child's birth, back at the Cambridge Registry Office in 2004. While the registrar was writing the birth notice into a giant ledger (yes, really), I noticed that on the wall there was a list of "Strangest names registered at this office". Quite apart from the staggering unprofessionalism of having this on public display (OK, you snigger about the names over the tea urn, but typing it up and putting it on public display), I was very disturbed to note that they thought that alongside names like "Justice", "Chardonnay" and "Crystal", names such as "Chiara" and "Kwame" were similarly sniggersome ... not so much if you're Italian or Kenyan, of course, but We Are Still So Very White Around Here. Ahem.

    Anyway. For me, this has highlighted one of the reasons why I'm in favour of school uniforms: because they give kids something completely meaningless and safe to rebel against. They're gonna rebel, might as well give them a punching back to kick against.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Yeah I am much more comfortable talking about bullying (in this case slut shaming) in general than in talking about this teacher in particular. Because I know SFA about this teacher's history. And I am equally disgusted by the editorials.

    As for the teacher being a dean and her being senior and she should know better - well I'm sorry but really good people have bad days. The key here is does she have a history. That doesn't excuse the single incident and she deserves criticism and possible censure over the incident.

    Yes she is the adult. But all of us adults stuff up. And adults recognise that and deal with it appropriately.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3434 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi, in reply to JackElder,

    Give your kids French names when you have absolutely no connection with France, and you’re a solid upper-middle class taxpayer.

    Oi! My very blue collar parents would like to have a quiet word with you, Mr Elder.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 862 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    As for the teacher being a dean and her being senior and she should know better – well I’m sorry but really good people have bad days.

    Can't say I've noticed anyone saying otherwise. FFS, I've gone out my way to say I couldn't do her job for any length of time without going bonko.

    But here's a notion: Teachers (like doctors and nurses and police officers) enjoy enormous public esteem because people recognise we expect a lot of them, but there's a quid pro quo attached. Having a bad day is one thing; slipping into denial and enabling mode, rather than accepting full and unqualified accountability for a serious abuse of power is quite another.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12046 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    it’s not OK for a woman to be sexually available, whereas for a male it’s often
    a matter for pride.

    and men, of course, now have Mantrol ©TM*
    that'll straighten them up and slow them down, yeah right...

    ...can anyone explain the reasoning in these new, expensive looking, TV ads - that have the same mindless, Jackass quality as the current
    beer ads, and this makes lunkheads slow down,
    how precisely?
    And how much did they spend on them?

    *not to be confused with MANTROL the sexual performance enhancer... of course!

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 5092 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    Okay, I wrote this big long post, which I then, by sleight of hand, lost completely. Anyway, here is a link to the teachers' Code of Ethics . Read it carefully, if you can be bothered. The teacher at Newlands College was in serious breach of our Code, in my opinion.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3123 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Isn't Mantrol the radio-control unit you get when you buy a man? That's what it sounds like! ;-)

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3470 posts Report Reply

  • Ray Gilbert, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    “Sapphire” is the only long gem name I can think of that is vaguely name-acceptable

    Especially if you combine it with Steel

    Since Nov 2006 • 81 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    and men, of course, now have Mantrol ©TM*

    Epic #brandingfail. Don't know about anyone else, but I've got enough MAN TROLL in my life and not enough bridges to keep them under.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12046 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to JackElder,

    Give your kids French names when you have absolutely no connection with France

    ... or French-settled territories...?

    Sincerely,
    Danielle Moreau ;)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3662 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to JackElder,

    I was very disturbed to note that they thought that alongside names like “Justice”, “Chardonnay” and “Crystal”, names such as “Chiara” and “Kwame” were similarly sniggersome … not so much if you’re Italian or Kenyan, of course, but We Are Still So Very White Around Here. Ahem.

    …Crystal? Really? That’s setting the bar a little low. So is Justice. Simple extrapolation from current trends. Fortitude, now, then you’d be getting somewhere.

    This all reminds me of one of my favourite sites ever. After some of the examples there, Chardonnay seems positively benign.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    …Crystal? Really? That’s setting the bar a little low. So is Justice. Simple extrapolation from current trends. Fortitude, now, then you’d be getting somewhere.

    Hope, Faith, Charity...

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 862 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    Disclaimer: I really wanted to name our 2nd born Prudence. I was overruled.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Andre Alessi,

    Hell, we've already gotten as far as Temperance.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    This all reminds me of one of my favourite sites ever.

    I just went through the Welsh section to make sure my daughter's name wasn't there.

    Also: Brian Edwards explains himself further:

    I could have told my 14-year-old daughter that she shouldn’t go out to a dance half-naked because guys would think she looked like a streetwalker and treat her accordingly. I was her father and we were very close and I worried about what might happen to her.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4371 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    I could have told my 14-year-old daughter that she shouldn’t go out to a dance half-naked because guys would think she looked like a streetwalker and treat her accordingly. I was her father and we were very close and I worried about what might happen to her.

    Oh, so it's okay to implictly call your daughter a whore if you're very close! I'm so glad to have that sorted out. I was under the mistaken impression it was never okay.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    And of course, it would never occur to anyone, least of all Dr Brian "my daughter is female, so there!" Edwards (H/T Boganette, I think) to try to teach 'guys' to treat young women as people worthy of basic respect no matter what they're wearing.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3662 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Also: Brian Edwards explains himself further

    Brian blatantly needs a cat.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 862 posts Report Reply

  • Tess Rooney,

    Oh COME ON! I was a teenage girl and I definitely dressed to make boys notice me. Why can't we be honest about the fact that girls dress to attract the male gaze?

    Since May 2009 • 257 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Jackie Clark,

    the teachers’ Code of Ethics

    Could they have made that less clear. I know it's meant to be flexible and modern and inclusive etc etc. But where's the bit that says don't xxxx the kids. Yeah I know it should be obvious but yah think a code of ethics would actually bother to be specific.

    I can see how teachers like Jackie would be angrier at the teacher in question than I might be. After all it is Jackie's profession she has undermined.

    I still don't know enough to know if this is a one time mistake, which I would tend to discipline and forgive. Or if it is part of that teacher's (or that school's) normal behaviour which would be a much more serious thing.

    I have no tolerance for bullies and I'm with Emma that calling someone a slut is as bad as any abuse and if repeated then constitutes bullying. I am well aware of the power imbalance here as well as the dehumanising nature of the whole uniform thing. Teachers (deans especially) have power that they must be very careful not to abuse. But I still am conscious that we could be talking about a really good teacher here who had a bad day, I don't know enough to be willing to condemn.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3434 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Tess Rooney,

    Oh, *well*, if you're dressing to 'attract the male gaze', that's clearly slutty, and so the teacher was bang-on. Or something. What's your point, Tess?

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3662 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Danielle,

    try to teach ‘guys’ to treat young women as people worthy of basic respect no matter what they’re wearing.

    This.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3470 posts Report Reply

  • Tess Rooney,

    My point is here: short skirts

    Since May 2009 • 257 posts Report Reply

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