Bedazzled cardboard signs, furious searches for matching dresses and bowties, and calls to the local Schnucks floral department are underway! It’s a homecoming tradition that’s been going on since the birth of Central High, persuading the student body to evoke such occasions. Recently, however, many students have grown in favor of bucking these norms to create a non-traditional experience.
Most students acknowledge that there are traditional gender roles being enforced during homecoming. Some students believe that these roles are very beneficial for their high school society and overall experience. Some students, however, feel the opposite. Having views that differ from the social norms of a society can cause people to address homecoming with very different perspectives.
Adam Manaster, a senior at Central High School who has been in a committed relationship for almost two years, expresses how he “never felt the need to go.”
“I didn’t feel like I was missing out on that much,” Adam said. “I never really thought it necessary for the guy to ask the girl. I can’t emphasize enough how much girls stress about getting asked, when it’s really no big deal.”
Many students expressed feeling immense amounts of anxiety while waiting to see if they’ll receive a homecoming proposal. Some students truly fear that not being asked would cause them to not go to homecoming, or cause them to have a less enjoyable experience. While on the other hand, some students become nervous about finding the best way to ask their dates, or how to pay for their dates.
These pressures and anxieties have left Hope Llewellyn, a senior at Central, with the desire to go to her senior homecoming with a group of friends rather than a date. After participating in homecoming for three years with dates, she recognized that there was less stress associated with going to a dance as a single.
“There’s way too much pressure,” Hope acknowledged. “Not only on girls to plan stuff and to look nice, but the guys have a lot of pressure on them to pay for their dates and to drive the girls.”
Some students would acknowledge that the spirit of Central High students is undeniable during social occasions as such. Traditionally, as the boys conjure a riddle of sorts for their homecoming proposals, the girls spend time planning out the perfect night – including outfits, pictures, and dinner. Many students enjoy the roles placed upon students during this time.
Senior student Maddi Atkinson enjoyed participating in all of the aspects of homecoming activities throughout the entirety of her time in high school.
“I really enjoy going to homecoming!” Atkinson said. “One of the best things is getting all dolled up. Looking for my dress is one of the best parts.”
For many, memories are created from the details applied during the evening. Many students feel as if participating in social events during high school help to create lifelong guidelines for how to prepare for other events like such.
Patrick Beckemeyer, a senior at Central High, expressed how he felt that participating in homecoming is something that you’re “supposed to do.”
“I feel that I’ll most likely carry the memories I make and roles I learn into adulthood,” Beckemeyer said.
While some students are supportive of these homecoming traditions, others criticize the ideologies instilled amongst high schoolers during these social events.
Senior Emma Chmielewski personally experienced the issues of heavily heteronormative roles during the social events she participated in during high school. She communicated how she felt “less dominant” because of her experiences at homecoming.
“For me personally I don’t like feeling like I’m being put in a traditional ‘woman’s role’. The fact that the man was doing the asking, it made me feel like I wasn’t in control. There’s obviously a difference between male and female roles. It’s the same thing with wedding proposals, why can’t a female propose to a man? It showcases male superiority. For some, understanding the fact that initiating going to homecoming with someone is male dominated drives people of different orientations away from participating in those experiences. It’s very supportive of heteronormativity.”
Chmielewski decided that this year she wasn’t going to participate in homecoming at all. She felt that most kids take it to be solely a social thing anymore, and that she isn’t the type of person who gets all dressed up only for a picture on instagram. Her advice to others is to, “not allow yourself to be put into a box that you don’t want to be in.”