research * the future * culture

I went to prom with another girl.

You might not know this about me, but I went to prom with another girl. She wasn’t my girlfriend. We weren’t dating. I just wanted someone to go with me, and due to pure social fuckery and indecisive bullshit on my part, none of the males in my romantic life were really available (nor was I available for them).* She agreed to go after I blurted out an invite, and we actually had a good time. We ate a nice dinner together, danced to utterly pedestrian music at absurd volume, and sacked out in her bed that night. If we had only been in love, it would have been a perfect date.

At no point did anyone tell me this wasn’t allowed. Not her parents. Not mine. Not my ASB rep. In fact, I don’t even recall wondering whether it was allowed or not. The concept of “allowed” never entered my mind. Maybe that was because my high school had already make it clear that they took all sorts. Or maybe I just honestly never expected it to be an issue, and amid finals and hormones and the afore-mentioned social disasters going on in my eighteen-year-old life, it got lost in the shuffle.

That’s not the case in Mississippi, where Constance McMillen’s high school shut down prom rather than allowing the openly lesbian student to attend with her girlfriend. When sued by the ACLU, the school re-opened prom, but parents of the school’s other students organized a private party, and Constance’s “official” prom was only attended by seven people.

This isn’t just hate, it’s spite. It’s petty spite. It’s ignorant petty spite. It’s PIG-ignorant petty spite. I could throw out more adjectives, but there’s one other P-word that describes what went on. Privilege. These (pig-ignorant, petty, spiteful, hateful, moronic, dastardly) townsfolk were privileged enough that they knew they could get away with this. That’s what privilege does: it shapes who you are and what you do, by (and this is the most important part) creating your possibilities for you.

I was privileged enough to have a lot of possibilities open for me. My prom was nine years ago. I went with another girl. It’s strange, and very sad, to think that something that was a foregone conclusion for me then could be such a problem for another young woman now.

*Story for another time.

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  • Madeline Ashby…

    ...is a science fiction writer, futurist, speaker, and immigrant living in Toronto. She writes a column for the Ottawa Citizen. She is represented by Anne McDermid & Associates, and Jason Richman at UTA. You can buy her books here.

    She has worked with Intel Labs, the Institute for the Future, SciFutures, Nesta, Data & Society, The Atlantic Council, the ASU Center for Science and the Imagination, and others. Her short fiction has appeared in Nature, FLURB, Tesseracts, Imaginarium, and Escape Pod. Her other essays and criticism have appeared at BoingBoing, io9, WorldChanging, Creators Project, Arcfinity, Tor.com, MISC Magazine, FutureNow, and elsewhere.

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    Designing for Interaction: Creating Innovative Applications and Devices (2nd Edition)Super Natural Cooking: Five Delicious Ways: To Incorporate Whole & Natural Ingredients into Your CookingGluten-Free Girl and the ChefPeople Crossing Borders: An Analysis of U.S. Border Protection PoliciesHalf the Day Is NightThe Magicians

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