By Vivian Ealy
The beginning of the school year is upon us as fall approaches. With this exciting season full of academic beginnings and thrilling football games comes the one honor every high school girl dreams of—Homecoming queen.
Every year, the Senior Class chooses ten female students to compete for the revered title of Homecoming queen. When the football game rolls around the Friday before the Homecoming dance, the candidates parade across the football field in front of the student and parent sections. Anticipation builds up as both the court and the student section eagerly await the big moment: the announcement of the queen. When the winner is announced, the students explode with cheers and applause for the newly crowned queen.
A seemingly light-hearted tradition, this competition is both misogynistic and extremely old-fashioned. As nothing more than a popularity contest, it is a way for students to judge who holds the highest social status. The contest is not based on talent, amount of community service, or academic performance as it should be. This practice is objectifying and outdated.
The sexism of the concept becomes even more apparent given that Township doesn’t have a competition for Homecoming king. This fact doesn’t just affect the females; other students, male or not, may wish to compete for the title of queen or king as well. This idea sends the wrong message to students as to where females’ priorities should lie. It also promotes unhealthy competition between women as they vie against each other for looks and popularity, which aren’t the only qualities we should strive for. All students in our school, regardless of their gender, should lift each other up and support one another.
In comparison to some more progressive high schools and colleges, Township is behind the times. For example, Northwestern University has begun naming one “Homecoming Wildcat,” allowing the winner to choose between a tiara, a crown, or other gender-neutral headwear. A little closer to home, Penn State University’s Homecoming Committee has started using a gender-neutral program last year, awarding two students the “Guide State Forward” award in October. A high school in Michigan has begun presenting students with medals of excellence and got rid of their Homecoming court altogether; the award considers students’ academic, social, and emotional achievements in school. This gender-neutral approach in which the award is based on scholastic achievements paves the way for a school that prospers with acceptance.