Where Did High School Prom Drafters Get the Idea a Public Meat Market Wasn’t Demeaning?

Friday, May 09, 2014

And the first pick in the 2014 draft is . . . unknown, perhaps because the drafters are afraid of being disciplined for being part of a meat market that is demeaning to its participants.

Obviously that is not a reference to the NFL draft held Thursday night, a more traditional meat market dating back to 1936 that is showered with affection and celebrated during a live show on national television.

The other draft, a bit more secretive, is for students at Corona del Mar High School in Newport Beach who gather in traditional sports coats to flirt with Lady Luck and do a bit of bartering for a date on prom night June 7. Boys draw random numbers for the draft but can pony up more money to get a better pick.

Around 40 kids reportedly gathered at a private venue, where each took around two minutes to make their selections. E-mails reviewed by the Los Angeles Times described a festive occasion with picks being announced by the commissioner to the general approval and applause of the audience.

While it is said to be against the rules to tamper with the draft order, one boy this year reportedly spent $140 to move up higher and snag a fine prospect he had his sights set on. He could probably afford it. The Newport-Mesa Unified School District is home to a lot of children of wealth.

District board trustee Katrina Foley said that was one of the problems. “They probably believe it's not offensive or objectionable,” she told the Times. “A lot of this stuff comes back to wealth and being responsible with that wealth.” The school is academically advanced and almost all white.

Critics of the draft say it objectifies and demeans women, accentuates social hierarchy, glamorizes physical beauty, stigmatizes some students and encourages boorish behavior.

The Orange County Register said that at least one participant thinks that’s not what happens at all.

“I am part of the draft and am friends with many girls in the draft and yes, in some instances girls can be picked by appearance,” sophomore Jessie Harris wrote the newspaper. “It is all just a fun way to decide who you will be going to prom with. It is not meant to harm those who are picked and I do not believe that it does. It is not, was never, and will never ever be used to objectify the girls at our school.”

Principal Kathy Scott sent out letters to parents last Friday expressing disapproval of the draft that had already gone down, but stopped short of proposing any action. She did however include a not-so-veiled threat to cancel the prom in the future if someone doesn’t do something about the draft.

“I urge you to talk with your student(s) and discuss the seriousness of this type of activity,” she wrote. “Prom is an important event in the lives of our students and I would hate to have to cancel it or any other important student related activity due to the negative actions of a few.”

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

High School Boys Hold “Draft” to Pick Prom Dates (by Lauren Steussy, Orange County Register)

School Prom “Draft” Prompts Reflection in Exclusive Newport Beach (by Adolfo Flores, Christopher Goffard and Hannah Fry, Los Angeles Times)

“Prom Draft” Girls Should Stand up to Boys Ranking Them, Experts Say (by  Stacy Teicher Khadaroo, Christian Science Monitor)

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