Thursday, April 20, 2006

Why Feminism? (Part 6)

Grown-ups are Stupid

(a short digression)

The year before all this started in was in sixth grade – the last year of elementary school - and my class was one of the first in our town to go through the D.A.R.E. program.

I cannot overemphasize how much of a flop it was.

The officer that came to teach the class taught us two things: 1) when you get to junior high, other kids will offer you drugs – possibly in the hallways between class, and 2) there’s all kinds of ways to say no.

There was some explanation as to why one should say no – most of it involving a former gang member coming in and telling us how scary gangs are and how we should never join one. For the most part, though, the class consisted of “here’s all kinds of ways to “just say no” because once you get to junior high bad kids will try you get you hooked on drugs and ruin your life.”

A few weeks before school got out, and not long after the assembly in which we demonstrated all the D.A.R.E. ways to say no, a kid brought something to school. It was white, powdery, and in a plastic bag. He told everyone it was drugs.* The teachers finally caught wind of it near the end of the day.

That afternoon my mom asked me if I had heard about it from other kids. I said yes, and waited for her to ask me if I was offered any so that I could dutifully say “no, but I would have just said no anyway.” Instead she exploded. “Why didn’t you tell anyone?! I can’t believe you didn’t tell anyone! What were you thinking?! Didn’t any of you listen to your D.A.R.E. officer?!” I’ve rarely seen her face that red.

The problem was, we had been listening. We’d just been listening to what wasn’t said as much as what was said. We were told that there were drugs everywhere you turned in junior high and that our job was to say no when (not if) we were offered any. Not only were we never instructed to tell a teacher or a parent when we saw drugs (much less heard rumors about them), but the idea of doing so seemed illogical. They must all already know that the drugs are there – they’re the ones that keep telling us they are everywhere.

*it wasn’t, of course. And the ironic part of this is that since D.A.R.E. taught us practically jack shit about any actual street drugs, there’s no way any of us that hadn’t already been exposed to drugs could have known this, even though it was apparently pretty obvious. If we had known the kid was lying, the rumor never would have spread throughout the entire school and it’s actually quite likely that someone would have tattled on him simply because he was being such a dork.

I’d also like to point out that the fake drugs incident was the closest anyone ever came to offering me drugs until fucking graduate school. When you walk around giving off a weird combination of I’m invisible/Don’t fuck with me/Goody-two-shoes vibes, no one comes up and asks if you want to smoke some weed.

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