'No Boys Allowed' Prom Sounds Like It Was the Best Ever

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Cultural and religious beliefs make it tough for many high school girls to attend the sort of prom depicted in the climactic scene in teen movies. It's hard to date when you're not allowed to date, difficult to wear a revealing dress and get your hair done and dance around when your religious beliefs bar revealing clothing worn in front of men, showing your hair to men, and dancing with men. But instead of sit at home on another prom night, one girl in Michigan planned a separate prom for the girls who couldn't or didn't want to attend a co-ed dance. And it seems like it kicked some ass.


The New York Times' Patricia Leigh Brown went to Hamtramck High School in Hamtramck, Michigan, where she met Tharima Ahmed, the senior behind an all-girls prom called Once Upon a Dream. Ahmed, who is Bangladeshi American, had dreamed of attending prom since she was a freshman, but knew that her culture and traditional American prom culture were incompatible. For the last seven months, she and a committee raised over $2,500 for the event, mostly through bake sales, and over 100 girls, Muslim and non-Muslim, attended the event.

It was pretty adorable — the girls bought all pink decorations and added pink food coloring to a decorative light up fountain and pretty much covered everything in glitter, which sounds like what a lot of high school girls would have done if they could plan an all-girl dance party. For many attendees, this was literally the first time they'd ever let their hair down in front of their friends, the first time they'd seen each other without head scarves and modest clothing. The DJ played both American pop songs and international music, and the party went on constantly until a 5 minute break for prayer at 8 pm, followed by more dancing and the crowning of prom royalty. According to the Times, when Tharima Ahmed was crowned queen, she cried her mascara off.

I miss high school about as much as I miss not understanding how to properly use tampons and the only dance I routinely do is The Sarcastic Robot, but this prom sounds awesome. Who doesn't like getting dressed up and dancing around with your girl friends? Boys who feel left out can organize their own event if they'd like, but I'm pretty sure that a No Girls Allowed dance for high school boys who want to get dressed up and bro down in stereotypically masculine ways already exists, and it's called football.


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Not to say that these girls shouldn't be practising their religion etc., but no one is asking them to drink and have sex at the prom. Any interpretation of a religion which demands strict separation of the sexes, to the point that they can't be in a room together, is IMO not deserving of feminist support. They are legally perfectly free to do it, but I can't get behind it. When there is segregation of the sexes women suffer, full stop.

Also: "dreamed of attending prom since she was a freshman, but knew that her culture and traditional American prom culture were incompatible"

I find this troubling. Can't help but think that it would be healthier to encourage young women to embrace the values of liberation and personal choice that our forefathers (mothers?) worked so hard to win so we wear what we like and talk to who we like, rather than stick to the hidebound, patriachal power structures of their families. Sorry if it sounds harsh, but I have had friends whose families tried to guilt/emotionally blackmail them into behaving like model rural Indian kids when they weren't - they were British teenagers and wanted to live as such, and it was horrible for them. New World culture soon tramples over the Old in immigrant families, and we should be trying to ease that transition, not prolong it. Immigrant cultures have and will continue to bring fantastic gifts to American culture. Separation of the sexes and restrictions on female behaviour is not one of them. There is already more than enough reactionary influence in politics, thank you.

ps. Upon re-reading, the second paragraph neglects to acknowledge that there are Western relgious sects which also discourage male-female friendships, but the only one I know that would actually forbid men and women being in the same room are Hasidic Jews and Amish. Maybe there are more. Anyway, from the article it sounded like it was more of an immigrant family issue than a Footloose scenario.