When a male student at Timpview High School in Provo, Utah, told a school counselor that the uniforms worn by cheerleaders on game day were making him have “impure” thoughts, clearly it should have been a matter to be dealt with by the boy and his parents. Alas, it wasn’t. Somehow, the outcome of the conversation (with an email from the boy’s mother to a school administrator chucked in for good measure) was that all Timpview Thunderbirds’ cheer squads were told not to wear their usual uniforms to last Friday’s football game against the Alta Hawks.
School administrators are trying to insist it was all just a misunderstanding, but some of the cheerleaders claim it’s much more serious than that. (Although they’re only speaking anonymously for fear of being ostracized.)
They claim that after an initial meeting, when no decision was reached about what to do — if anything — about the boy’s complaint, one of the assistant principals told the cheer coach they shouldn’t be wearing their uniforms to school.
Understandably, the cheerleaders are none too happy about the outcome, and their parents are pretty pissed too.
It’s body-shaming for sure, but it’s also sending a dangerous message to the students at Timpview High School. If cheerleaders’ short skirts are to blame for a boy’s “impure thoughts,” will the way a woman dresses give him an excuse to assault her in five years’ time?
This boy’s problem with the cheerleaders’ outfits is his problem and his problem alone. These girls are athletes, ambassadors for their school. They don’t deserve to be objectified or made to feel ashamed of showing their bodies.
Tellingly, Timpview High is in predominantly Mormon Utah County. In the Mormon religion, young men and women are brought up to consider their bodies as sacred, and told to dress modestly. The danger of this is that it leads to body-shaming — and how the Timpview High cheerleaders have been treated is a perfect example of this.
Rape culture within Mormon communities — where the responsibility to stop sexual advances lies with women and girls, and men are often portrayed as the victims of the sexual advances of females — is blamed on outdated Mormon teachings. It’s time for change — and the school administration can be active in setting a precedent for future generations of students. Whatever your religion, making girls responsible for the “impure” thoughts (or acts) of boys is never acceptable.
There’s a simple answer to this problem. If a boy has an issue with cheerleaders, he can skip the football game and stay home.
Before you go, check out our slideshow below.