Catholic School to Girls: Your 'Provocative' Outfits Invite Harassment

It’s not particularly surprising to learn that a Michigan Catholic school, which last year made headlines for wanting students to wear “modesty ponchos” over prom dresses deemed too revealing by teachers, has once again fucked up.

Detroit’s ABC 7 reports that dozens of students at Dearborn Divine Child High School are protesting a lesson about rape and sexual harassment by a Campus Life Minister at the school, who, according to students, said that girls who dress provocatively are “contributing to the boy’s and men’s bad behavior and that all the blame is on them.”

ABC 7 played a recording of the tape, recorded by a student, in which the minister says, “Ladies, if you dress provocatively and leave absolutely nothing to the imagination, younger girls look and go, oh my gosh, she’s got plenty of boys around her.”

“Those younger guys go, oh, that’s how you talk about women, that’s how you look at women as an object, something to be dissected,” the voice says.

The outlet reports that about 40 girls protested by wearing paper target signs on their uniforms, to symbolize being “targeted” and “objectified.” They also put up posters at school that read: “Instead of publicly shaming girls for dressing how they want, teach men not to over-sexualize women’s bodies.” According to the students, school administrators gave detention to students who refused to take off the paper targets. Once the posters went up, according to one girl’s father, who spoke anonymously, the school threatened the protesters with suspension.

“He was telling a woman, if you’re dressing a certain way, you’re asking for it,” the father said in support of his daughter.


In a statement to ABC 7, the school said it is “aware of concerns” regarding the minister’s presentation to students, but did not take a stance on the issue. The school also denied allegations that they punished protesters.

“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 school wrote in a statement to ABC 7. “To that end, we have discussed these concerns with some students and parents and welcome input from all of our stakeholders. School administration has no record of students being suspended, issued detentions or otherwise disciplined as a result of this situation.”

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Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is a senior reporter at Jezebel.

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