a guest Mar 26th, 2019 81 Never
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- Money, Pride, and Prom
- Knock, Knock at the door, an apprehensive shiver runs through her heart, he's here! She hopes against hope her parents interrogation doesn't scare him off, and descends the staircase, hair perfectly done, brand new dress. He pins the Corsage on, gently, and her parents watch as they drive off. The dance is everything she's imagined it to be, elegant, filled with dancing and fun...
- Prom, that event that so singularly defines the high school senior year in American popular culture, is a carefully engineered spectacle designed to reinforce the idea that love, and social class can be bought in order to fund the related industries. The expenses incurred, by both the male and female, both feed, and reinforce the significance and reach of this dangerous notion.
- For women, Prom normally means a time full of romance, and an unforgettable night. Of course, it also means prohibitive expense. A girl may be expected to spend hundreds of dollars for this single night. There are dresses and shoes to buy, Hair and nails to be done. Men, too, are expected to make large monetary investments in this single night as well. A Tuxedo rental, dinner, and a corsage are all expected, indeed demanded by tradition. On the even more extravagant side, some students opt to rent a limousine to ride to the dance in! Then there are the tickets themselves, which can range in price from $25 all the way to $150 apiece, Hardly pocket change.
- This may all sound just fine and dandy, that is, if you can afford it. For those who cannot, showing up to Prom in a second hand dress, or even worse, not showing up at all, is a crushing reminder of which economic strata they occupy. The symbolism doesn't stop at being recognized by the one affected either, in a society such as ours the implications of being seen as economically disadvantaged can negatively affect their social status. And those privileged few who have the means to make obscene gestures like the limousine, or matching zoot suits and dresses, are elevated to a level of their own invention, far above mere mortals. What should be a fun, and romantic night becomes a veritable socio-economic judgment ground.
- Our moral structure is another thing heavily affected by the Prom. We learn decadence and overconsumption are things to be aspired to, not reviled as wasteful. Teens are actively encouraged to spend money that they often don't have, all on some vague promise that this is a once in a lifetime affair that will matter somewhere down the road. Beyond money, our image of love is being subverted. The common message being sent by Prom is a disturbing one: “You can't love someone unless you lavish them with expensive gifts.” Combined with the popular stereotype of losing ones virginity on Prom night, which has become so pervasive we accept it as the central plots to some of the most influential teen movies of our time (See: American Pie). By giving our young people this impression, we tacitly approve prostitution! We are sending the message that love can be bought and sold like any other commodity.
- This further enhances the gender stereotyping which begins in the monetary phase of this event. In our patriarchal society, despites gains by the women's movement, Men are still in a generally financially dominant position. This is of course reinforced by the impression that the man should pay for dinner, tickets, and such. Of course, this is then compounded by the prevalence of advertising related to Prom, intimating that the night should end in the previously mentioned coitus, leading to a strong trend of women using their sexuality as a bargaining chip in everyday life.
- To be fair, Prom has, in it's way sustained it's original values. From it's beginnings in Victorian England as Promenade society balls, it has always been a social networking tool. The most significant change has been a shift away from the rigid social structures used to separate people in the 1800's, towards the mercantile interests of todays Prom. Today Prom chiefly functions as a marketing tool, serving to feed the seasonal industry that exists solely to fulfill the needs they create. That is to say, the celebration has become the Class-enforcing Corporate Commercial Coitus Cabal.
- “But hey,” you might say, “Whats wrong with enjoying a night out with your friends?”
- And a fine question that would be, if it wasn't stupid. Prom is an event that functions as a divisor of classes, and a tool of gender repression. We ought to try to return to our original (modern) intentions with Prom, and create a non-discriminatory celebration, or just get rid of it.
- See you there, I'll be the one spending as little money as possible.
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