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"Cold Beer and Titties": Sexism at Texas Boys State Conference

by: jess_stoner

Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 09:49 AM CDT

(This is an embarrassment to our state. A program that trains future leaders should do more to eradicate this sexist behavior. - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)

At this year's Texas Boys State conference, 920 high school students, or statesmen as they're referred to, gathered at the University of Texas at Austin to form municipalities, run for office, and pass legislation.

During their hectic week learning the "rights, privileges, and responsibilities of franchised citizens," they debated the legalization of marijuana and drafted strategies for water conservation and education and immigration reform.

They also gave speeches touting "Cold Beer and Titties," designed campaign logos showing women in bikinis, and created a party platform shaming teenage mothers.

Read more below the jump.

Founded in 1935, American Legion Boys State is a highly respected, nationally-operated educational program whose motto is "Learn by Doing." The boys nominated to attend are chosen for their character, scholarship, and service.

While Texas Boys State has earned its prestigious reputation, it faced criticism in 2005, when Texas Monthly reported that three statesmen withdrew from the program, due to their fellow students' homophobia and the "atmosphere of hatred and intolerance." The young men I spoke to who attended this year's conference said they overheard homophobic slurs, but were proud the group had overcome the bigotry of a few and worked together to approve civil unions. What troubled them was the degrading way a number of statesmen treated women.

As evidence, a statesman shared a photograph he took with his cell phone of a slide from the Nationalist Party platform, one of two non-partisan parties the boys are assigned to.

He said he approached a party leader for further explanation of the requirement that pregnant teenagers on welfare must "out" themselves to their neighbors and was told:

"So you know how sex offenders have to go door to door, basically it's the same concept except the teen pregnant mom has to go door to door." The leader added, "We're not trying to shame them, we're just trying to get them help from the community."

I asked another statesman if there was any discussion of what would be required of teenage fathers. He lamented:  "It's all on the woman. The moral dilemma is completely the woman's."

Even if you tried to explain-away the requirement as just a poorly-phrased attempt at bringing more attention to teen pregnancy, it would be hard to rationalize a statesman's campaign speech at a county convention: "He just said 'Cold Beer and Titties' and sat down."

It would also be difficult to justify the appropriateness of the campaign materials for the Federalist Party, as seen in images tweeted and shared on Instagram, adorned with versions of the #txboystate hashtag:

When a statesman asked a counselor if there was a way to complain to the higher-ups about the problematic speeches and images, he was told that "there wasn't time" due to their busy schedules. However, one counselor did verbally reprimand students who catcalled women and pre-teens attending classes and camps on the campus. I emailed Texas Boys State to ask if there was a formal way for counselors to pass on students' complaints and was told to visit the website. The only information I could find stated that one of the duties of City Counselors was to "assure that the delegates under their supervision conduct themselves appropriately at all times."

Put nearly one thousand high school boys together and you're bound to have shenanigans. But it appears that the adults at Boys State missed an opportunity to ask certain young men to reconsider their attitudes towards women.

Or maybe that sets too high of a standard; after all, some of the elected officials in our Texas State Legislature aren't exactly modeling excellent statesmanship. In the Texas Observer last year, Olivia Messer reminded readers that in 2011, State Rep. Mike "Tuffy" Hamilton "interrupted Marisa Marquez during a House floor debate to ask if her breasts were real or fake." She also reported that female state legislators observed "senators ogling women on the Senate floor ... watching porn on iPads and on state-owned computers ... legislators hitting on female staffers or using them to help them meet women."

What happened at Girls State, the female counterpart to Boys State run by the American Legion Auxiliary, might offer us a glimmer of hope.

The young women I spoke with said they had an empowering experience and felt inspired to run for public office. Even though they didn't have a single member of the state legislature speak to them, while more than 30 state representatives, senators, and current and former statewide elected officials visited the boys.

They raved about the program and were especially proud to have passed legislation legalizing gay marriage. They even elected a justice of the peace who "married" eight couples. One young woman excitedly recapped the day:"We just started marrying people!"

The girls also wrote legislation addressing rape on college campuses and requiring Texas high schools to fund performing arts programs, and had a heated debate about raising the minimum wage. They spoke of their efforts to create meaningful compromise and the respect with which they were treated by their fellow attendees, regardless of their race, socioeconomic background, religion, or sexual orientation. As one young woman told me, "Everybody made an effort to make sure everyone's voice was heard."

Encouraging more young women to pursue public service in the future is just one way to combat the sexist attitudes of our society and state legislature. Supporting the young men who speak out against inappropriate behavior and the demeaning treatment of women is another. The young man from Boys State who reported the catcalling told me his hope is to return as a counselor, to help make changes and ensure that the statesman "respect the privilege and uphold the responsibilities" of their position.

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Sexism Works Both Ways (3.00 / 1)
My name is Benjamin Gerzik, and I am proud to have participated in this year's Texas Boys' State. This article is not only offensive to those who gained so much from the program, but an unnecessarily vitriolic misrepresentation of its proceedings. I'll address all of the points made in this article as best as I can, starting from the beginning.

To begin with, I was a member of the Federalist Party, and consequently cannot speak for the abortion platform referenced as it belonged to the Nationalists. However, the point raised about 2005's Boys' State proves only the opposite of this article's obviously biased stance; after reading the rest of this you'll see that this Boys' State is by far the most progressive, accepting group to date.

Sadly, I was unable to be a part of the "Cold Beer and Titties" speech, but you said it best yourself: shenanigans are inevitable. I'm sure (and I hope) that this was an attempt at comedy, much like the statesman who did stand-up while running for office. Within my city, county, party, and state, a few speeches were given that hinged upon traditional values, espousing the bigotry claimed within this article. However, although they existed, they were an infinitesimal minority. Those who gave such speeches were often ridiculed, and the real concern should be that our skills as audience members were so poor. Oh, and the Federalist mascot of the bikini-clad woman? Whether knowledgeably or not, the omission of a quite artfully sketched representation of a counselor's head replacing the woman's completely banalizes the true purpose of this sexist monstrosity: injecting some life into boys who were starved of sleep and energy whilst listening to speech after speech after speech.

Furthermore, my experience drastically rebuts the claims of cat calls. One statesman in my city who was reprimanded for "cat calling" literally asked random strangers--men and women--how their day was, how they were doing, etc. The most drastic incident I witnessed was when we were waiting for a meal, opening doors for passerby and raising our arms over them as we created an opening, cheering and clapping. Naturally, a few were uncomfortable, but they were quite literally being treated as royalty. If extending gestures of kindness to strangers is sexism, then there's no reason for me to continue typing.

I'm glad that the experience at Girls' State was so good, and I have heard so first hand from my peers that attended. Sadly, again this article, in a hopefully unconscious attempt to unfairly dichotomize the two programs, has failed entirely to note the high points of Texas Boys' State. As far as I can remember, both parties legalized gay marriage, and we in fact had multiple openly gay statesmen running for state and lower level offices. Much pride was also taken in our debate and legislation, which was both fruitful and respectfully conducted.

If you truly desire to combat the sexist attitudes of our society, I encourage you to exercise your journalistic responsibility of objectivity rather than misrepresent the happenings of one program while putting the other on a pedestal. By no means do I aim to imply that Girls' State doesn't warrant more support and participation; I would merely like to inform the author and all readers that sexism is perpetuated not only by those who oppress, but those who believe the only way out is through unequal treatment, even if it is positive. Discrimination is discrimination, good or bad, and hopefully in the future this is no longer even a topic of discussion. I also hope to return as a counselor and continue the great tradition of Boys' State, only not under the false pretenses of not just a straw man, but a straw family, home, and dream. After all, that is what's presented here: an egregious belittling of a great program for the sake of helping something you are only further damaging. Please, I ask kindly, please--do not do yourself the disservice of trivializing such a great program on these baseless claims. It was and will continue to be an incredible experience, truly creating men of boys and, contrary to this article, serving to create the leaders not only of tomorrow, but of today.

P.S. During my tenure as a statesman, I fell in love with the campus of UT and it jumped near the top of my prospective college list. If this is to be expected as the norm, then I'm afraid that is no longer the case.

No. (1.00 / 1)
Benjamin, there are many problems with your comment. First, you assume anyone who reads your comment would consider your Boys' State group to be "progressive" and "accepting." You then wrote nothing to give that impression at all.

Second, saying that you were "sad" to not take part of "Cold Beer and Titties" completely negates any presumption of credibility you may have had, because a person of sound judgment and diplomacy would not say such a thing, especially when he's trying to make his group look good.

Third, you are making a completely sexist and baseless assumption that all forms of comedy are acceptable in all situations. It would be to your benefit to learn right now that degrading women for fun and giggles at something that's meant to be an academic activity demeans both women and the activity in question. For all your defensiveness and posturing as the victim, you have single-handedly only confirmed the report you are railing against. You made Boys' State look even worse, to put it bluntly.

Fourth, your little excuse about "shenanigans" is the same tired excuse we've all heard about how "boys will be boys." Yet you claim this camp turned boys into men. Really? This isn't how real men behave. If you want to be a man, and a man who is a leader in his community, stop using your gender as an excuse and hold yourself to a higher standard that respects men and women alike.

Fifth, I can only laugh at your lamentations about the poor, sleep-deprived boys who could survive their tribulations only through childish, sexist doodling. You simply don't see how immature and whiny this sounds. Again, you have embarrassed yourself and Boys' State by writing this.

Sixth, it's telling that the one thing the boys were rebuked for, catcalling, is still considered a non-issue to you. You defend every other action of sexism that wasn't reprimanded, and then try to explain away the one that was as well. Maybe it's possible you simply don't know what sexism and misogyny is.

Seventh, you proved with your own words that the article's claims were not "baseless." In your opinion, the claims are insignificant. That's what you really mean. That is your mistaken opinion. You and the article agree on many of the facts of what happened. You simply are fine with what happened. The writer is not. Instead of telling journalists that they are required to write stories that comport with your sexist opinions, maybe you should engage in some honest self-reflection and spend less time pontificating, trying to lord over others, and minimize claims of blatant sexism when you very obviously have quite a few significant things to figure out about social issues, privilege, gender relations, and discrimination against women. One can only hope that as you mature and become more educated, you will see the error of your ways, have a more mature, responsible outlook on life, and expect more from your peers instead of making excuses for them.

[ Parent ]
Objectivity is Key (3.00 / 1)
Before anything else, I urge you to reread your final point and then the rest of your response... the hypocrisy is astounding. Again, I'll try to go point by point and address what you've said.

First: I actually cited the same "progressive" and "accepting" the article lauded, specifically gay rights and the legalization of marijuana. (Correction: the article did not mention marijuana, but a friend of mine in attendance at Girls' State was quite proud of that fact, if I remember correctly.)

Secondly, as someone who is presumably college educated, you should be familiar with the common logical fallacy of argumentum ad hominem. If you disagree with my comedic sense and personal tastes, that's a-okay, but to claim it invalidates all of my points is ludicrous. Also, I am not trying to make my group look good: I am reporting my contrasting experience to that which was initially reported. My personal duty goes first and foremost to truth, not individual bias, and had such heinous accusations held water I would have been the first to speak up.

Thirdly, all forms of comedy are acceptable in all situations. Whether you agree with it or not is a different issue, but I firmly believe in the First Amendment right to freedom of speech and that supersedes all concerns of being politically correct so long as clear and present danger does not exist. If I made myself look the victim, I apologize; my intent was, again, to share my contrasting experience rather than impose my personal beliefs. I'd like to remind you that the model was not only knowledgeable she would be seen by a multitude of people, but paid for it. Where the issue falls with you, I'm not sure--I won't attempt to put words in your mouth--but somewhere along the line, if there's blame to be placed, I simply don't see the fault lying in our bikini-clad counselor amalgamation.

Fourth, I never said anything about "boys [being] boys." Put 900 and some odd people together and shenanigans are inevitable. Real men behave in a respectful, courteous manner, which was the overwhelming experience. I have yet to use gender as an excuse, actually pressing in my final paragraph (of the first comment) to overcome sexism as it stands today. My point was not to excuse all inappropriate actions (although I find some much less pressing than you and others), but to present them as they were: a minority.

Fifth, see my second point. Through your inability to reply to my actual point you've built up a straw man of sexism and misogyny that simply isn't there. Again, I urge you to read more critically and you'll see that what I've said is more in favor of eliminating sexism than your caustic admonitions. I have by no means embarrassed myself, and I have no qualms embarrassing Boys' State because I am speaking solely for myself, from my personal experience at the program. With that said, I don't believe I am embarrassing it at all--one thing I learned is the importance of civility in discourse, and I feel I am doing a good job at maintaining composure in the face of these inanities.

Sixth, I feel like I'm beating the horse to death at this point. My experience was that the so called "cat calling" was not only spread between both genders, but more often than not general courtesy. If we live in a society so sheltered by these falsely built monoliths of oppression and gender relations that we cannot greet our fellow American without fear of backlash, I am both concerned and frankly terrified. I fear that it is not I, but you, who does not understand sexism and misogyny. Again, I encourage you to take a step back, shed your bias, and give the situation a look as objectively as possible.

Finally, there is some truth in your final point--I could have chosen my words better. However, even though I agree it is more a different interpretation of facts (although incidents such as the cat calling are markedly different than originally reported), putting words in my mouth will do you no good. In doing so you are only building up the now oft mentioned straw men, further invalidating the iota of truth in your words. At no point did I tell journalists they are required to write stories that comport with my "sexist" opinions: verbatim, I "[encouraged the author] to exercise [her] journalistic responsibility of objectivity", believing that the truth of the situation did not line up with her report. Beating the horse to death yet again, I believe the both of us have a lot to learn about a lot of things; paraphrasing Plato's Socrates, I am wise because I do not think that I know what I do not know. If I am missing something in the big picture, please, enlighten me--don't throw out accusations without explanation.

What is really troubling to me is that you are overlooking my primary point: responses such as yours only add fuel to the fire of sexism, perpetuating it rather than helping to bring it to its end. Almost all of your claims are either twisted from my original explanation or combat themselves. Try your hardest at objectivity, see that I am in fact against sexism and not excusing my peers, and then, hopefully, constructive discourse may take place. Lord knows it can't when the only words said are accusations built upon accusations against accusations.

[ Parent ]
No, again. (0.00 / 0)
I don't have the desire or time to explain to you again the mistakes you've made in what you've written. I encourage you to not take my word for it. Print out this article, as well as other articles written about what happened at your camp, and print out your written responses that criticize the messenger instead of the "shenanigans" at your camp. Present these things to your parents and teachers at your school, including female teachers, and get their feedback so you can get diversified responses about your opinion and how you presented it.

[ Parent ]
Sigh. (0.00 / 0)
It is a pity to see the apathy that so permeates today's society. If I had less faith in the truth of my words and more conviction in my ego, I would not hesitate to spread this to every corner of the internet, news, whatever you will. Maybe I will, but I believe firmly that diversified responses--those with open eyes and ears--will only build upon my case rather than tear it down.

If you ever find the desire or time to re-read all that has been said, you will realize I am critical of both the shenanigans and messenger. Criticism, much like sexism, goes both ways: positively and negatively. As a scholar, future leader, and above all an individual, I hope for both of our sakes we have moved towards a higher truth and can continue this discourse on a rational, logical level.

Thank you for your response and time; it is more appreciated than you probably imagine.

[ Parent ]
A diversified response (3.00 / 2)
@Ben - here's hoping your willingness to listen is as sincere as you make it seem (the fact that you "firmly believe" all responses will build your case makes me nervous about the level of open-mindedness here, but I'm going to try anyway)- I really hope that you read this not with the intent to rebut every statement but with the intent to simply hear and understand a woman's perspective. You're obviously a smart guy, I'm sure you treat your mother and the other women in your life with respect, but it's harder to see how your words and actions might be indicative of an ingrained social pattern that really needs to change.

Let me preface this by saying I understand the need for humor, and I think a lot of people take "PC" too far. But let's try a thought experiment:

You acknowledge yourself that the humor isn't PC - why? Now let's say instead of the joke involving something that offended women (because it did offend women - this is a fact and not an opinion to be argued), it had offended gay people? Or black people? You probably wouldn't have made that joke, and I think this is part of the problem - our society (especially when you have groups of men making decisions with zero input from women, as was the case when this picture came about), is so okay with the way men objectify women that it's defensible, because the men are the ones dictating what is and is not okay. But it's not okay, and it needs to stop.

Let's say the girls at Girls State had done the same thing but with the body of an attractive shirtless man - how would the outcome be different? People wouldn't accuse them of sexism, but they would be seen as frivolous and taken less seriously.  

I'm a woman in my mid-twenties, accustomed to working in a male-dominated field (computer science), and, from my perspective and from the perspective of countless other women (based on the number of likes and shares this article has gotten), this was a blatant display of sexism. I'm sure you yourself treat the women in your life with respect - your mom, your sisters if you have them, your friends, etc., and I'm sure you don't see yourself as being "sexist" - but the fact that you "don't see the fault" here is telling of an ingrained sexism that is so pervasive in our society that men like you, who are against sexism and who are capable of changing it, don't even fully see the problem. I am NOT calling you a sexist and am NOT attacking you personally here, but I do think that you find the issue "less pressing" because you're a man. It doesn't pose a problem to you because you are not a part of the demographic that is offended. And it wasn't an overtly offensive action - you didn't vote to end women's suffrage or lower their pay. The "jokes" made at Texas Boys State were just a manifestation of a subtle and widespread attitude that makes it so much easier to dismiss. I could (and others have) written pages upon pages on the subject, but here's where the main issues seem to lie:

There is a long, long history in our society of objectifying women. Of men using women as objects to satisfy their own desires. Yes, the model knew she was being paid to take the picture, but people aren't complaining about the model experiencing sexism. They're complaining about the general atmosphere that made it okay for this picture to be used as "comic relief" for a bunch of bored teenage boys. Why is it funnier to put the face of your counselor on a bikini-clad woman instead of a shirtless man? You could have done this with a man, but chose not to. The joke is "funny" to you because you have the counselor, who presumably plays a leadership role, with his face on the body of a woman. A naked woman. Jokes are generally funny because of some kind of contrast - you hear (or see) the opposite of what you're expecting. The man is a respected leader, someone to be taken seriously, and this is being contrasted with its polar opposite: something not to be respected nor taken seriously, but there simply for your viewing pleasure. Yell out "beer and titties" because "titties", just like beer, are rewards, objects you can enjoy.

I guarantee if there was one woman in your party she would have been uncomfortable with this, and if there were an equal number of men and women these "jokes" would not have been made at all. The very fact that so many women around the country are outraged by this turn of events should be a clue to you that it is sexist. You cannot dictate to an entire demographic how your actions do or do not marginalize them. If women around the country feel demeaned and objectified by your actions, then your actions were probably sexist. If you are going to be a future leader - yes, there is a time and place for comedy when it comes to trivializing, and at the same time perpetuating, an issue that impacts over 50% of the population. This was not meant to be a personal attack AT ALL - but I really hope that you can read and internalize this perspective with an open mind.  

[ Parent ]
I'm trying my hardest not to get into an ideological debate when this is something much less than that. (3.00 / 1)
I understand what you're saying, and agree with a good bit of it.

For clarity's sake, my firm belief was because unlike anyone else here, I experienced most of these events first hand. From the outside looking it it's extremely easy to miss out on facts and the intricacies that surround these events.

The point made about whether it was about gay or black people is very valid, but as you said members of those affected would have been in attendance so it wouldn't have been made.

Don't get me wrong, I see why women are offended. I understand why racist or homophobic jokes are offensive. When an environment is created in which the offended party is not represented, it's only natural that individuals will be more comfortable making jokes at their expense, much like your hypothetical with Girls' State. That's what I feel is really the issue more than anything else: this is being inflated into something more than it really is. Of course sexism still exists, and I would stretch as far as to believe there may even be some psychological influences still in effect. However, it seems to me another deeply ingrained social pattern that really needs to change exists: the tendency of women to victimize themselves in the face of strife. Yes, discrimination still exists. Sexism still exists--and it's fairly bountiful. That, though, does not provide a viable excuse to create scandal out of every situation and manipulate facts to fit an agenda. As I've said before, if this really was a manifestation of bigotry and hatred, I would have been the first to speak out. It simply was not.

I do treat women in my life with respect, and part of that respect is knowing when we are joking with each other. I'll throw a politically incorrect joke the way of my female friends, gay friends, friends of different ethnicities... and they'll understand that it is what it is: a joke. Naturally from the outside looking in this is harder to accept, but my primary issue is again the inflation of these relatively isolated incidents into an omnipresent oppression that simply is not the truth of the situation. As you said, the undertones are there, but the reported incidents did not happen as portrayed so a lot of the outrage is ungrounded.

I can guarantee you it wasn't funny because of the juxtaposition of the counselor and a weaker sex. I run the risk of offending the transgender community here, but it was funny because it was a guy with boobs. That's really it. This isn't some psychological phenomena--we had it up there for a solid 20 seconds at most, had our laugh, and a counselor took it down. It really is that simple.

Your kindness and clarity in explanation is greatly appreciated, but I feel this is snowballing further into something it is not. Furthermore, just because many people believe something is sexist does not mean it is. As I've said many times before, the events are exaggerated misrepresentations and without a different perspective it's only to be expected that it would be viewed in the way that it has.  

[ Parent ]
My Experience (0.00 / 0)
Hello all, and Ben. My name is Blake, a fellow statesman of Benjamin. This comment may admittedly seem like a digression from the train of thought here, but overall I simply would like to present my experience regarding these issues and boys state.
I will first say that I did not witness most of these occurrences as I spent most of the week of boys state in Senate meetings, helping create legislature and organizing the proceedings for the senate meeting on the last day. Specifically the forefront part of this article, the "Beer and Titties" speech, is completely new to me. However, I did witness several happenings at boys state then I can see as either being sexist in a way, or being easily interpreted as such. My friend Ben recalled a moment when "we were waiting for a meal, opening doors for passerby and raising our arms over them as we created an opening, cheering and clapping. Naturally, a few were uncomfortable, but they were quite literally being treated as royalty." I do remember this and was there when this happened. While this was happened many people who were not involved in it were either admonishing such a practice or trying, and failing, to keep the others in line. I say this primarily to show that not all of the statesmen at boys state can be group as they have been in this article and these comments. I remember quite a few statesmen who I found to be embarrassing to the program, however many more of us tried to keep the proceeding of boys state as formal and efficient as possible. We tried to have fun with the program of course, but I don't think, and certainly don't hope, that our intentions were to present ourselves in such a way.
I suppose I can't, and shouldn't, speak for us all. I guess all I'm trying to say to everyone is don't regard is all in the light that a few of statesmen have created for themselves. Personally, I'm sorry for any offense from us. That makes up for nothing, I know, but I still wish for my sentiments to be here. I do agree to a certain extent that boys state this year wasn't as serious as at least I think it should have been a tad more serious, but I digress...

Good job. (0.00 / 0)
Blake, you are a mature and responsible young man for showing empathy towards those who were offended by what happened at the camp you attended. I'm sure most people who read articles about the camp realized that not every boy there acted in a sexist, irresponsible manner, and it's good to see that you are standing up for what is right. I'm sure you learned a lot from your experience there, and do your best to continue standing up for what's right and decent, even when others around you aren't up to the task and instead follow the crowd.

[ Parent ]
Commitment (1.00 / 1)
I am a 31 year old female, mom of two small boys.  I read this article and laughed not only at the " shenanigans" but also that the author expected a group of 1,000 teenage boys to behave pristinely.  Were their actions appropriate?  No, were they corrected?  Most likely.  This is a growth experience for most of these boys, where they learn how government works and how to behave away from their homes and parents.  If you want to blame someone or something for their behavior, blame their parents.  I really admire your commitment to smearing the Boys State program, however, I believe your efforts could be more productive on different topics. Instead of focusing on the bad behavior of a few teenage boys, let me highlight the behavior of some of our elected officials:

-Hilary Clinton blamed a terrorist attack in which our ambassador was raped,tortured and killed, on a YouTube video.  The producer of that video was thrown in jail and used as a scapegoat.  She ( Clinton) ignored calls for help from a US ambassador.  But let's focus on some teenagers, because that is more important.

- Barack Obama knows nothing of what goes on in this country.  Any difficult question is asked and you can bet his answer is " I wasn't aware of that." A seventeen year old kid saying " beer and titties". Is so much more offensive.

-the corruption at the IRS is off the charts.  OMG a group of teenage boys used a picture of a woman in a bikini in a poster.  A travesty.

- thousands of parents are sending their unaccompanied children over the borders for our tax dollars.  Some boys overheard a few slurs.  cringe

-our military and veterans are not receiving care and compensation due. Lets talk about 17 year old boys making a few sexist comments.  

You are a very good writer, try focusing your skills on a topic that actually deserves attention.

No. (3.00 / 2)
There are many problems in this world. Some are huge problems, some are smaller problems. This fact does not mean that the press doesn't have a right to report on the things you consider smaller problems.

And as far as this story goes, several reports about the camp this year stated that the boys who acted in misogynistic ways were mostly not reprimanded. How are they supposed to "grow" when adults on the scene and adults like you say everyone should be quiet and not complain about their behavior because there are other problems in the world? If your boys slap or kick another child, do you sit by and say nothing "because Benghazi?" As an adult, it's your job to teach them better, just as the adults at this camp should have done, no matter whether there is a news story that covers the event or not. You also overlooked that the article had pointed out the camp has earned a prestigious reputation. The article didn't say only bad things.

Maybe instead of reacting in an overly defensive manner because this article points out boys behaving badly, you should be thinking about all the daughters out there who are not respected as they should be because boys are not taught to respect them at every opportunity (like this camp). And this article DID point out that elected officials were remiss in not visiting the girls' camp. You like criticizing politicians. Why didn't you like this criticism? It's obvious why. Every person who belittles or disputes this article makes the same baseline argument: "the boys didn't really do anything that bad." That is your opinion, and a lot of people disagree with it. Maybe you'd like to next tell schools to not punish bullies because they're just kids, and that's what kids do, and corruption and Benghazi and stuff. Maybe you should also consider the opinion of the responsible boy who posted on this same page that he is dismayed at how some of his peers acted, instead of defending the bad apples and attacking the messenger who reported their behavior.

[ Parent ]
Incomplete examples (3.00 / 1)
My name is Tyler and I like a few others here, participated in this year's Texas Boys' State.  I feel that this article is lacking both context and correct information. I am going to go through each of your examples and explain what really happened.

First, as to the platform regarding teen pregnancies, this was the platform plank suggested by the platform committee, and was brought before the nationalist party. This platform plank was not approved and was removed. I would therefore say it does not accurately represent the nationalist party or a wide majority of the participants.

Second, the example of a county level speech which I will agree was inappropriate. However speeches on the county level were mostly horribly phrased and sad attempts at humor. I was present for this particular speech and I would like to point out that he did not only did he not receive applause from the audience but was also reprimanded by leadership. He was not elected either.

Third, the campaign materials for the Federalist Party were originally designed as a gag with the face of the counselor replacing the ladies. This was designed just to wake people up at an event that was dragging on longer than intended. After the original showing of the piece with the counselor a few people picked up the original magazine and took it to the next state meeting. During this meeting several things happened, first if a magazine fell into the hands of a nationalist it was shredded, if it fell into the hands of anyone but the thirty people who were originally holding the magazines it was removed, and after about twenty minutes the party leadership had reprimanded the individuals and removed the offending magazines.

Fourth, as far as discipline is concerned, city councilors are responsible for participants during the week and all discipline. In the same section discussing cat calls, I believe as Ben stated in another comment, that based on my experience these claims are either unfounded or a misunderstanding between the participant and the other individual. For example during a lunch line a friend of mine was whistling the Star Spangled Banner and while whistling a female student went by and called back to my friend that it was rude to cat call despite him only whistling before she arrived. I feel that many of these cases are simple misunderstandings such as this one.

Fifth, I find it interesting that you focus on all the positives of Texas Girls' State but include none of the exact same things that went on at Texas Boys' State. Legislation was passed for civil unions, legalizing marijuana, addressing the issues on the border, and almost any issue that exists in Texas today. But, somehow only negative things about Texas Boys' State are mentioned.

In conclusion I feel that you have grossly misrepresented what actually happened within Texas Boys' State and I hope was not a willing choice but, a lack of information. The group of young men that I was able to participate with at Texas Boys' State was one of the most accepting and diverse groups I have had the honor to be with. My request to all who read this is, do not judge an event of one thousand people based on a few people holding up magazines.

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