Prom draft news comes as no surprise, as a group of Corona del Mar High School students in Orange County, CA took prom to a new and horrendous level. Creating a draft in which women were to be bought and sold like tickets as dates, the boys ended up getting caught by the principal, Kathy Scott, before they were able to go through with the draft. Scott sent out a letter, notifying parents of the “rumor” of a “prom draft,” and moved to immediately dispel the draft, which was planned for June 7.
Socialized in a culture that is centered on competition and consumption, it comes as no surprise that the students in Orange County were the crafters of a prom draft. This is largely the product of an Orange County mentality in which creating a draft to get the best dates, in a competitive, yet controlled way, probably seemed just like another investment.
In Orange County, prom is made into a full time job; one must pick a date, ask them in an extravagant way, find an outfit, create a group for a party-bus, host a dinner party with pictures, and plan an after party. With all of the extravagance and expensiveness, the dance becomes more of an investment than an opportunity to enjoy a night with friends. With so much emphasis on the prom, this investment can feel like the capstone of one’s high school career.
Although the CDM students were wrong to consider buying dates to be an option, in all fairness, it probably did not seem very different to them than the years many of them spent as children, watching “happiness” and “self worth” be purchased around them.
The culture of Newport Beach is one of intense competition, as parents are always seeking the latest and greatest model of their cars, looking to enlarge their already large houses, strutting around in the top name brands, and basically buying out the person next to them. Although there is absolutely nothing wrong with big houses, nice cars, and wanting the best, one has to question where the line must be drawn in terms of what is necessary and what is wasteful.
If kids grow up an environment where they are taught that buying equates to happiness and self worth, than as teens it is no surprise that they think of doing the unthinkable: buying the best time with the best date. Although it is fully the responsibility of these students for creating this “prom draft,” the location of Orange County cannot be overlooked, especially in an area as affluent and high end as Newport Beach.
The prom draft of CdM should not be something in which the group of boys who crafted it get scorned and then, party on. The parents, whom are apart of this culture, need to really think and analyze why their student even began to believe that buying a person was okay.
This mindset cannot be fully traced back to the upbringing of these students. Outside influences such as media, play a huge role in conditioning people to believe the objectification of women is okay. However, perhaps reflection into the way these families derive their own value and feelings of self worth can shed light on the incident.
Upon reflection, many of these families may see their own practice of self-objectification or deriving ones values from ones appearance, to be especially pervasive in their child’s lives. Although self-objectification can feel great when there is positive attention, when it is negative or lacking, basing one’s self esteem on an appearance can be mentally and physically debilitating.
These experiences of self-objectification that for many impact feelings of wellbeing are amplified in a place like Orange County. With so much wealth and competition, Orange County is a breeding ground for objectification as status symbols such as the nicest car, most expensive clothes, and prettiest house, are constantly being fought over. This competition rallies on no matter who gets what, as appearances are always being outdone, overturning one’s worth while simultaneously scrambling to find value in the next best thing.
However, appearance-contingent people can often spend huge amounts of money on maintaining and perfecting their outward appearance, just to realize that they still do not know their own self worth and value.Perhaps everyone self-objectifies to an extent. However when a threshold is crossed in which self-objectification translates into the objectification of others, matters need to be taken seriously.
The fact that the prom draft incident comes in the form of a group of teenagers from Orange County comes as no surprise. This is because the reigning belief in Orange County is that one’s appearance is the strongest indication of one’s value. Will students who are socialized to derive their worth from their appearance be able to see the value and worth in others, despite their appearance? Will they be able to spot the human hood behind someone’s looks, even if they appear to be “unworthy?” If they cannot find worth in themselves, what impels them to find it in someone else?
Opinon by Amiya Moretta