Walking into the quad to enjoy break, all eyes are on you. A circle of students enclose around and then emerging from the crowd, some random kid from your period 2 Spanish class holds flowers and a cheesy sign. Without any chance for thought or preparation, in front of the whole grade, you are posed with the question, “Will you go to Homecoming with me?”
Homecoming proposals, although a popular trend school wide, create an uncomfortable and negative atmosphere for some.
The key element to this idea, that a seemingly simple and cute high school trend leads to toxicity at schools, is consent. An out of the blue ‘ask’, especially one in such a public setting, for some people, is the worst thing possible. It takes what should be a private experience and puts it on blast for the possible enjoyment or utter humiliation of others.
For already existing couples, this issue doesn’t seem as prevalent, because typically, the one doing the asking should know whether or not their partner is comfortable with it. However, getting permission first is still important.
Some may argue that asking in advance ruins the surprise, but getting consent from someone to participate in a public display does not entail telling them all the details of the plan. A spoiled surprise is not anywhere near as damaging as submitting someone to something they are not comfortable with, and avoids any risk of public rejection.
Yet, rejections are unlikely when putting someone on the spot with the pressure of peers’ eyes and judgment. Surprise homecoming proposals often ‘force’ people to say yes, and this is not okay.
In a traditional patriarchy society where the guy asks the girl, a girl who says no to her homecoming proposer is labeled as rude or unkind, even though it was the guy who put her in that position in the first place.
This judgment and blame that is placed on the girl with simple things like high school homecoming proposals supports much larger and more dangerous problems that women face daily. Men feel entitled to the compliance of women without their consent. It is this idea of consent that needs to be reinforced. In our society women are often put at fault for men’s violent actions towards them claiming they ‘asked for it’ by dressing or acting a certain way.
Homecoming proposals without prior consent are just another step on the path of misogyny and endangerment of all, especially women. This pattern can be stopped if students understand and ask for consent.
Ensuring that both parties are okay with the big ‘ask’ keeps things fun, exciting, and safe. It also instills a positive precedent for men’s behavior before they get out into the real world and their “Will you go to homecoming with me?” becomes “Come home with me.”