Today in Badass Young Women

High-school senior Katelyn Campbell was dismayed by what she called a “slut-shaming abstinence assembly” at her school, promoted as “God’s plan for sexual purity,” featuring abstinence-only speaker Pam Stenzel. Stenzel told students that “if your mom gives you birth control, she probably hates you” and “I could look at any one of you in the eyes right now and tell if you’re going to be promiscuous.” Campbell feels that she and her peers need less slut-shaming and more accurate information about birth control, and she contacted the ACLU and the media to let them know.

In response, George Washington High School Principal George Aulenbacher called Campbell to the office to ask, “How would you feel if I called your college and told them what bad character you have and what a backstabber you are?” (Wellesley, the college in question, has since tweeted, “Katelyn Campbell, #Wellesley is excited to welcome you this fall.”) Campbell has filed for an injunction against Aulenbacher to keep him from following through on his threats. Her classmatesT have started a Facebook page, “The Average Teenager is NOT A SLUT,” and intend to raise the issue of Aulenbacher’s behavior at the county school board meeting today.

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Eight-year-old Aamina Fetuga was upset at a proposed bill before the Tennessee legislature that would cut welfare benefits for families by a third if their children performed poorly in school. (Because sure. Nothing promotes academic excellence like cutting a kid’s food budget and ratcheting up family tension at home.) So Fetuga went to the state capitol to confront bill sponsor Senator Stacey Campfield. When he refused to talk with her, she followed him through the hallways, asking him why he wanted to cut benefits to schoolchildren. (Fetuga: “I’m worried about the lights being cut off.” Campfield: “That won’t happen as long as you have a decent parent who can show up for two [parent-teacher] conferences.”) Fetuga was able to present Campfield with a petition signed by 2,500 opponents of his bill.

Any time you have a situation like this, of course — a kid this young expressing political views and taking action — the question is raise about using children as political props. And it’s a reasonable question to raise. To me, it comes down to a matter of motivation and whether the kid or some adult in a position of authority is behind the action. (I happen to believe that an eight-year-old can be politically aware and engaged enough to take some initiative in this kind of situation.) Tressie McMillan Cottom discusses:

No matter how you look at it, the law was absolutely using children to further a political goal.

Aamina Fetuga was just such a child and she resisted. She followed the legislators around asking the tough questions many adults, like myself, only asked while sitting on our duffs. And she seemed to have made an impact.

Campfield has since dropped the bill.

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And finally: Oscar nominee Quvenzhane Wallis gets in a kid-size dance battle at the MTV Movie Awards afterparty.

[h/t The Grio]


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18 Responses to Today in Badass Young Women

  1. JBL55 says:

    My niece is a Wellesley graduate. Go Wellesley!!!

  2. I from WV says:

    I graduated from George Washington HS and left the state. Such assemblies were common and very discouraging, but some people knew better then, and it seems that hasn’t changed. Rock on, Katelyn Campbell.

  3. Nell says:

    Yay Wellesley!

    Would we expect anything less from Hillary Clinton’s alma mater?

  4. khw says:

    More power to Aamina Fetuga and to Katelyn Campbell!

    I love the idea that a clearly intelligent 8-year-old girl has created such impact.

    It takes a certain amount of bravery to stand up to one’s high school principal.

    I wish both of these young women continued success. It is inspirational.

  5. MH says:

    Good for every one of these young women!

  6. Aaliyah says:

    “I could look at any one of you in the eyes right now and tell if you’re going to be promiscuous.”

    Eww. That is all.

    • EG says:

      Well, fuck, I can tell her if I’m promiscuous or not. That’s not impressive. I say, tell me something I don’t know.

    • Emolee says:

      “I could look at any one of you in the eyes right now and tell if you’re going to be promiscuous.”

      I got a version of this at my (Catholic) school. The woman who taught us sex-ed (which was suprisingly informative about contraception, actually, but still very regressive when it came to sex outside of marriage and homosexuality) told us, in 8th grade, that if any of us had sex in high school, she would be able to tell. She said that she knew which of her high school students were not virgins… something about a certain deadness to their eyes or some such nonsense. Yuck.

  7. GracieGrace says:

    That abstinence only speaker just sounds freaking slimy. Because we all know that abstinence only education REALLY sets kids up for success, right? *sarcasm*

    • Kim says:

      She is absolutely awful. I was sent off to teenage religious conventions when I was younger and she’s spoken at them. I remember hating every minute that she was on stage and drawing on her picture in the program with my friends. If I remember correctly, her mother was raped and she was conceived at that time, which she seems to sort of blame for her hatred of sex and men. I wish that I could remember exact quotes from her, but it’s been almost 15 years since I’ve seen her.

  8. Gemmabeta says:

    So let me get this straight:

    the principal threatens to call Wellesley College, one of the Seven Sisters, alma mater of Madeleine Albright, and dyed-in-the-wool liberal and inform them that one of their incoming student is an articulate and brave feminist activist.

    What did he think was going to happen? I believe Ms. Campbell’s full ride scholarship is getting approved as we speak.

  9. Rachel Barnes says:

    I currently live in WV and this story of Katelyn Campbell is making the rounds. I support her fully and think she is so kick ass! This state is so backwards when it comes to sexual attitudes it isn’t funny. Groups like WV Free are trying to turn the tide but the likes of Pam Stenzel and her supporters are quite vocal and supported in this state of the Bible Belt. It was recently reported WV has a high percentage of teen moms and not much support for them. It’s no wonder the Pam Stenzels of WV will make sure this state stays in the backwoods but it gives me hope that young girls like Campbell are hearing the call. Go Katelyn!

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  11. Abstinence and endless strings for welfare: two conservative policies that are a consistent embarrassment to the cause. Although I would question the decision to send an eight year old to lobby the state legislature. Does anyone really think Miss Fetuga dropped her toys and said “Mommy, I’d like to present a petition to the legislature today”?

    • Angie unduplicated says:

      I think that Aamina Fetuga’s classmates, and possibly Fetuga as well, heard many conversations at home about a seriously reduced standard of living, already too low, and that these classmates communicated with each other. Info on contacting Tennessee’s Shame probably came from her teachers. She’s put smiles on a bunch of faces, though not Campfield’s for sure.

      In other youth activism news, Georgia’s shameful gov, Nathan Dirty Deal, accused the four young women who organized the integrated prom of being “a liberal front group backed by the Democrats”.

      The reason the South is warm is that we receive first breath of the Gaping Jaws of Hell, brought to you by our political sponsors.

      • EG says:

        “a liberal front group backed by the Democrats”

        Reminds me of when they used to accuse the Civil Rights activists of being backed by Communists. All I can think is “…yes? Well, they’re fighting racist segregation, which puts them one up, morally speaking, on you!”

      • Caperton says:

        I don’t think Deal was calling the girls a leftist front group. The group Better Georgia was calling on Deal to endorse the integrated prom, and he called them a leftist front group. So slightly better — but not a whole lot, because dude, just endorse the frigging integrated prom. I know gestures like that can put you out in the middle of controversy, but I’m pretty sure you’d be securely on the side of angels on this one.

  12. roro80 says:

    I’m sure that my high school’s abstinence-only assembly was a different group (probably 15 years ago, and on the other side of the country), but it sounds much the same, if not quite so gross. Two very attractive, young, enthusiastic presenters, one man and one woman, telling us how un-special our wedding nights would be, passing roses around the audience and telling each person to pluck a petal (our hymens, I guess?), trying to make not having sex sound so cool, and of course asking everyone to pledge that we would wait until marriage. I remember kind of looking around and thinking “whoops, I’m a little late for that pledge….” But there was no talking about the terrible parents who supply their teenagers with condoms, certainly nothing as confrontational as telling us that they could see in our eyes that we were slutty slut sluts. Anyway, good for Katelyn for standing up to that bullshit.

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