In San Diego this week, a group of girls from Scripps Ranch High School were suspended for “twerking” on school property.
In case you’re living in a cave, like I apparently have been, you may not be familiar with this phenomenon. So what is twerking? It’s when a person, usually a woman, rapidly shakes her hips and butt in a way that causes major wiggles and jiggles. According to some, twerking originated in Southern Strip club culture and became popular in the 90's through hip hop music. Lately, the Internet is aflame with girls and women posting videos of themselves twerking in public places. (Here's Miley Cyrus dressed up as a unicorn while twerking. Need I say more?)
When Scripps Ranch's teachers saw the video on YouTube of their students twerking at school, they reported it to administrators and all 33 girls involved were suspended. Three of the girls, star athletes on the school’s undefeated track team, are now prohibited from competing in an upcoming meet. Says student Emily Benzie, who was not in the video, "They're good students. They never get in trouble. The first time they get yelled at is for twerking in a video."
Benzie's mother agrees, stating that twerking is harmless and just part of today’s pop culture.
I really want to agree with her. After all, I can recite every line from the movie Dirty Dancing, which I watched at least 5,000 times before I was 20. But what creeps me out about twerking is that it is so obviously exploitative. Moving your body so it looks like you're having sex, by yourself, in the dairy aisle at Walmart or at the library is not art. It is not an expression of freedom or youthful exuberance. In fact, twerking is the opposite: it's a sad attempt by women and girls to hyper-sexualize themselves in order to get attention from men. What next, a porn video like Farrah Abraham, one of the "stars" of MTV's Teen Mom?
But suspending girls who post videos of themselves twerking at school is not the answer. Instead, the students involved should be required to explore why twerking is harmful. Meanwhile, parents, teachers and administrators – and not just at Scripps Ranch – should explore what's propelling girls to make these videos in the first place.
Let's do this. Let's show girls and young women that it's way hotter to shake their brains in math and science class than shake their asses in front of 500 cartons of cold milk. When we do that, I can guarantee this: twerking will no longer be an issue.
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