A high school in Minnesota is teaching students that boys are hunters and girls are prey animals by encouraging them to dress the part. Crookston High School in Minnesota organized “Prey and Predator Day,” for which ”guys dress in their camouflage and other hunting apparel while girls will show off their animal print,” according to Jezebel. After locals protested, the school changed the event to “Camo Day.”
The Grand Forks Herald reported that the idea originated with the student council. School superintendent Chris Bates said that the “kids saw it as a fun thing and didn’t see that it could be taken in another way,” adding that “hunting in this area is pretty popular.” I’m not sure what he meant by “another way” — there is really only one way to take the planned costumes: boys chase with malicious intent, and girls run, just like hunters and deer.
You know rape culture has really seeped in when both students and officials at a high school see no problem casting boys as armed hunters and girls as helpless animals. According to UpsettingRapeCulture.com, “In a rape culture, people are surrounded with images, language, laws, and other everyday phenomena that validate and perpetuate rape. Rape culture includes jokes, TV, music, advertising, legal jargon, laws, words and imagery, that make violence against women and sexual coercion seem” normal.
The high school debacle echoes another recent example of rape culture, an ad for Dos Equis beer that advised (male) viewers, “Approach women like you do wild animals, with caution and a soothing voice.” Fortunately Dos Equis removed the ad, but the belief system that inspired the idea and allowed advertising and beer executives to approve it hasn’t changed: Americans still view women as prey for hunters to do with as they will.
The domination of animals is as integral to “Prey and Predator Day,” and to its successor, “Camo Day,” as rape culture is. A theory called ecofeminism regards the oppression of women and the domination of animals as interconnected. Consider the men who mount antlers on their trucks, and the ones who display mudflaps featuring pin-up silhouettes. And the men who hang stags’ heads on their walls, or hang nudie calendars instead. These are all considered “macho” statements that real men enjoy killing helpless animals and ogling defenseless women.
But we can’t ignore that the students came up with this idea, and presumably that included some female students. Maybe when Bates said they didn’t think their event could be “taken in another way,” he meant that of course girls are supposed to like being hunted by powerful and violent men, and it wasn’t supposed to be taken as anything non-consensual. After all, that mudflap lady looks pretty content. It’s a twist on rape culture: not only is rape normal–girls dress and preen for it and find it flattering.
But back in reality, as local resident Ileanna Noyes put it, “Really, in this day and age, you think it’s OK to have the mentality of the men as predators and the women as pretty prey? And that’s adults doing this?…How absurd. How appalling.”