Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Remember the "grinding" controversy?

A very smart young man decided to help us all out last week and give us the teen perspective on the grinding issue.

For the record, I thought he did an okay job but the threat is a little annoying and predictable.

What do you think?


Misconceptions abound about grinding

I am a 17-year-old senior at Vashon High School and have followed the discussion in The Beachcomber in regards to “grinding.” I have found some of the arguments made to be inaccurate and even offensive.

There seems to be a widespread misconception among adults on the Island that grinding is completely about sex and nothing else. However, when asked if they’d ever felt that their dancing partner’s actions towards them were disturbing or unwelcome, only 16 out of 359 who responded to a survey I issued at school on Monday said yes.

Most dancing partners at VHS are either dating or are friends and have agreed to dance with each other. It’s seen as inappropriate for a guy to simply walk up and start grinding on a girl. This week’s survey revealed that the students who are uncomfortable with it are by far the exception rather than the rule.

There’s no denying the fact that there are some students who choose not to participate. I didn’t even go to dances during my freshman year, but over time I gained the confidence to join in. Grinding is the chosen dance style of our generation, which explains why 70 percent of VHS students surveyed said they would not support a ban on the dance.

This is a common issue among high schools in the United States, with parents concerned about the alleged sexual nature of grinding. At Sequim High School, a new edict called the “face-to-face-and-leave-some-space” rule is being enforced, and dance attendance has plummeted. Their student body is over 1,000 strong, more than twice the size of VHS. Even with that many kids to draw from, they only sold 190 tickets to a recent dance.

At VHS, a similar drop would equate to the sale of around 80 tickets. Besides the fact that most kids just have a lot more fun at well-attended dances, these events are some of the biggest moneymakers for our student leadership cabinet. Programs would suffer if dance attendance fell so dramatically.

Referring to grinding as dry humping and clothed sex is a gross jump to a wrong conclusion. Similar objections were raised in the 60s and 70s because of dances like the Twist that involve little to no physical contact. Attempted parental control of those dances was unsuccessful and only resulted in kids seeking alternative opportunities to dance the way that they liked. When surveyed as to whether or not grinding was offensive or inappropriate, only 22 out of 359 students surveyed responded in the positive.

Some of us at VHS thought that the meeting Sunday at the elementary school to discuss grinding was meant as a good opportunity for the students to get in touch with the adults, and we were under the impression that a compromise was to be reached. But during the opening remarks, Superintendent Michael Soltman announced that “grinding is over.” Speaking for the students who attended, an absolute statement like that certainly didn’t set the stage to work out a deal.

A number of parents felt that grinding was an exclusive dance that left many students standing on the sidelines. For many VHS students, eliminating grinding will mean they no longer wish to attend the dance and will be effectively excluded. This seems hypocritical to me. I think that in this case, alternatives must be brought to the table in order to avoid a parting of ways between the student body and VHS-sanctioned dances.

— Eli Hoyt, a senior at Vashon High School, is active in student affairs.

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