No doubt about it, sexism is alive and well in the United States.
Although there are no longer (many) written laws restricting the agency of women in the U.S., there are unwritten ones that permeate all levels of the workforce. A sobering anniversary this year reminds us that it has only been 100 years since women were "granted" the right to vote.
Today, in 2019, math teacher Lauren Miranda stands tall pressed up against the glass ceiling. In 2016, Miranda shared a topless photo with her boyfriend who also worked at the New York School District. Three years later, the photo was found in the hands of their students. There is little debate that a student having inappropriate pictures of a teacher is an alarming situation--but imagine how you would feel as the teacher if you did not consent to having those photos shared. It is not a crime to have nude photos, but it IS a crime to pass them around behind someones back.
Instead of prosecuting the people who shared her photo without consent, the school district fired Lauren, tarnished her reputation, and debased her when what she really needed was compassion and support. No disciplinary action has been taken against the people who actually shared the photo without Miranda's consent.
Miranda is a victim, not a perpetrator. She is only 25 years old, and now because of no fault of her own, she is without a career, having just spent the last six years in school training to become a teacher. Not only is it unfair that her photo was stolen and distributed, but it is also unfair women, in general, are defined by their breasts as being sexual deviants for simply having them.
This Teacher Was Fired Over A Topless Photo. Now, She's Fighting Back. Since she is already fired, Miranda uses the stolen photo as a form of empowerment. YouTube
Miranda feels "violated" and mistreated as any victim of sexual harassment would, only in this case she is further punished by the dismantlement of her career and humiliation of the release of the photo without her consent. Lauren and her attorney are suing the school on the grounds of gender discrimination. Not only was the case handled sexistly and sloppily by the school administration, the photo was also passed around the teacher's lounge to garner contempt and salacious response toward Lauren. According to Inside Edition:
"One official said she "caused, allowed or otherwise made it possible" for an inappropriate photo to circulate, according to the New York Times."
"We would not be sitting here right now if a topless picture of a man was to surface like mine had," Miranda said.
In response to the official blaming Miranda for the distribution of the photo, I urge them to consider the idea of victim blaming not only in this nation but the many nations in which women are overtly oppressed. In 2006 in Saudi Arabia a woman was sentenced to 200 lashings and six months in jail for being gang-raped under the crime of being out without supervision, they claim she was asking for it. In this system of 'justice,' the emphasis is not put on the individual and their misfortune of being stuck in a corrupt system, rather it focuses on maintaining their current power structure.
The distinction between Miranda being fired for this leaked photo and a woman or man being fired for their body of pornographic photos is that Miranda never intended this photo to be seen or solicited by anyone but her significant other. This is not a crime, and I'm positive a majority of adults with cell phones and sex drives participate in the exact same natural behavior. The idea that it is the woman's fault for her body being used for the mirth of others is based on the "look what she was wearing, she asked for it" argument. This argument cannot even be called an argument, because it is a fallacious attempt to absolve the patriarchy of responsibility for their actions and sustain dominion over women as a class of people.
What message does firing a hardworking female teacher send to other little girls who look up to her? It tells them their bodies are of more concern than their minds, and if they are taken advantage of it is still their fault. It also tells women and girls they are second to men because a man would not be fired for the same infraction.
I stand with Lauren Miranda. Do you?