Corrupting the youth

Via Feminist Law Professors – a student teacher is fired for being photographed in what looks very like a bathing suit top.

[Theresa] Illgen, 23, appeared in a front-page photograph in the Las Cruces Sun-News wearing a bra and appearing to motivate those who marched to educate students, and the public, about the issue of rape culture and victim blaming. The national march typically includes participants who dress in skimpy clothing who peacefully protest against excusing rape by referring to any aspect of a woman’s appearance.

“I didn’t know the picture would be published,” Illgen said.

What picture?

(image credit: Robin Zielinski/Sun-News, here)

You could see hundreds of women dressed like that on any popular beach. You can’t help seeing countless pictures of women dressed like that on advertising all over everything. So…why on earth was she fired? Because the garment covering her breasts is called a “bra” instead of a “bikini top”?

Hello, ACLU?


  1. Pteryxx says

    to educate students, and the public, about the issue of rape culture and victim blaming.

    Way to prove the point, Las Cruces school district. Way to prove the point.

  2. says

    Foot, meet shotgun.

    Sometimes I think the US’ Puritan heritage (and the stark contradiction between that, the world-dominating porn industry and the long-standing cultural obsession with using semi-nude women to sell everything from ISPs to insurance) is one of the biggest factors in holding the nation back. When any amount of graphic violence is screened on TV with barely a raised eyebrow but institutions start fucking sacking people who attend public functions dressed “controversially” (but still dressed, FFS), something is seriously wrong.

    I think you’re right, Ophelia – if this woman was wearing an actual, obvious bathing suit top (y’know, something in neoprene in fluorescent freakin’ pink) and was partying in New Orleans or Cancun or selling beer we’d be having a different conversation right now. Hell, we might actually be talking about the event itself and the reasons for it. Instead, Ms Ilgen gets a scarlet letter and her marching orders because some stuffy old fuck is offended by her concealed breasts.

  3. MrFancyPants says

    From the article:

    “I was told my actions interfered with student learning,” she said.

    You know, when I was a graduate student, events like these were called “teaching moments” or “opportunities for discussion”, not “reasons to fire teachers”. What a bunch of shortsighted (if not completely blind) idiots.

  4. says

    It seems to me that she wasn’t fired – just given a day off since the students might react to the whole thing.

    I can understand their pragmatism, even if, in perfect world it could be an opportunity to talk to the students about their reaction and what she was doing there.

    Her student teaching was over, so it doesn’t seem as though she has suffered professionally for it.

  5. Simon says

    If she was stopped from participating in the march the ACLU would be appropriate. An employment disciplinary action of this type is (unfortunately) legal and ACLU wouldn’t get involved.

    And specifically regarding labor issues what is not well known is that the ACLU actively distances itself from anything resembling a liberal/progressive position and this is quite intentional. However the work the they *do* do is excellent and I support it. See more here:

  6. Hamilton Jacobi says

    It probably has more to do with the shocking symbols painted on her face than the amount of skin exposed on her upper body. And she doesn’t look submissive enough to be a good role model for the kids.

  7. bad Jim says

    Just to blur the lines a little: in my Southern California coastal town, girls in high school often wore bikinis under their clothes so they could go straight to the beach. This was in the 60’s, when they had to wear knee-length skirts.

  8. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    @4 … she was not “fired”, because she’s a student teacher (practicing as part of her training). She was told to get her things and leave. Fortunately, she had already completed the evaluaiton and it was her last day, otherwise she would have failed that course.

    During her lunch hour Thursday at Mayfield, Illgen met with a vice principal and counselor at the school who Illgen said, “Told me the best option was to consider my student teaching done.” Illgen was also told to gather her personal belongings and leave Mayfield quietly.

    It is notable that her political activities on HER college campus were enough to get her booted from a HS campus.

    One commenter in the Las Cruces paper said: Had she landed on the cover because she donned a bikini at a newly opened pool Mayfield officials would not have removed her. The school embraced the type of body image shaming that Illgen set out to protest.

  9. llewelly says

    The fact that this kind of dress goes unremarked upon in so many instances illustrates that they did not censure her because of her dress.

    They censured her because she protested rape culture.

  10. johnthedrunkard says

    It would be nice to know a bit more here.

    What institution fired her? Mayfield high school? And what else should we know about them?

  11. Elly says

    Why am I not surprised by this?

    Judging from my experience with my kids’ schools, the district (or school) admins likely freaked out because they anticipated parental protests. Some parents completely lose their s**t when the subject of sex comes up, and the schools nearly always cater to them, because they (the parents) claim the moral high ground.

    I have stories… but for now, here’s what one admin from my son’s old HS had to say:

    Although some people want the sex education curriculum in Kettering’s schools to include information about safe sex-practices, DeLon said he gets more phone calls from hesitant parents concerned that their son or daughter is going to learn about sex. “I rarely ever get a phone call saying that we are not teaching enough about sex,” he said. “But I do get phone calls questioning if we should teach sex education at all.”

    The fact that she was photographed protesting rape culture would be enough to make certain parents’ heads explode. It was easier, from both administrative and PR perspectives, to give her the boot.

  12. says

    Actually, given how hot it’s starting to get, I think I can soon expect to see women dressed in that or less on public streets. I mean, really. She’s taken her shirt off. She’s not even topless. What’s the big flipping deal?
    And you’re right about the advertising. You can routinely see much more skin than that in an ad trying to convince you to buy a dozen eggs at 20% off.

    The Godless Bitches recently talked about how America was, as a nation, sexually immature; on the level of a twelve year old snickering about “boobies”. I think this is a fair example of that kind of childish nonsense.

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