“Hell hath no fury like a community of pissed-off feminist moms,” reads one Facebook post, by Natalie Green of Chattanooga. It’s a reference to the assistant principal of a Tennessee high school having been placed on administrative leave after comments he made in a controversial video posted to his school’s YouTube page.
In the video, produced by journalism students and since taken down from YouTube, Jared Hensley addresses the students of Soddy-Daisy High about a new dress code ruling banning athletic shorts. “If you really want someone to blame, blame the girls,” he says. “They pretty much ruin everything. They ruin the dress code.”
Is he trying to be funny? That’s bad enough, but then he really goes off-piste, with some Biblical judgment about being led astray.
“Well, ask Adam — look at Eve …” he says. “You can really go back to the beginning of time.”
On a roll, he doubles down on the athletic-shorts ban being just the beginning of the perceived injustices attributable to women.
“It’ll be like that for the rest of your life,” Hensley says. “Get used to it. Just keep your mouth shut. Suck it up. Follow the rules.”
What on earth?
Many parents were understandably angry and the full student news broadcast can still be viewed at the bottom of this article and on Green’s Facebook page, where it is posted with a note that says, “They removed the video from YouTube, but guess what: they pissed off the wrong group of mamas.”
Local activist group Chattanooga Moms for Social Justice were active in sharing the video and bringing the issue to light. “I have no doubt that Mr. Hensley will claim he was joking,” said Taylor Lyons, one of the co-founders of the group. “However, given the current social climate, his comments are insensitive at best and wildly inappropriate at worst. To suggest that ‘girls are responsible for ruining everything since the beginning of time and will continue to do so’ is completely unacceptable and he needs to apologize.”
Green told The Times Free Press, “The fact that they’re coming from an educator is bad enough, but the fact that they’re coming from a man in a position of power is even worse. These remarks are blatantly sexist and misogynistic, and do nothing but perpetuate victim-blaming and reinforce the rape culture that is so insidiously ingrained in our society.”
On Wednesday, Hamilton County Schools superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson released a statement, calling the comments made about young women by Hensley “inexcusable.” He added that the matter was under investigation and Hensley had been placed on leave.
Hensley does have supporters, however, and a Facebook post says they will rally on Thursday afternoon. Among them is senior class president Paige Dunny, who shared her thoughts via email with ABC News Channel 9:
“I would like to comment on Mr. Hensley’s character because of recent events on comments he made on our school news. I personally know Mr. Hensley not only because he is our Vice Principal but because before that he was my gym teacher. I would like to say that no once during the span of our class did he ever make any sexist comments or treat us any different because we were girls. While the comments he said were distasteful and uncalled for, I believe that he did not mean them and they have been taken out of context. Mr. Hensley is one of the kindest and most caring members of our faculty and always goes out of his way to say hi and ask how I am. This man really cares about his school and I would hate to see him lose something that means so much over something that he did not mean.”
Soddy-Daisy’s school board representative Rhonda Thurman told The Times Free Press she was having “a real hard time getting upset about this.”
“He meant absolutely no harm by this,” she added. “This is so ridiculous. Can nobody take a joke anymore? He was just talking to the kids in their language and trying to be funny.”
Below, watch video of Hensley’s remarks.