On “promposals:” women have the ability to say no

Mia Silverio


(April 16, 2015) Everyone in the school has noticed that prom asks—“Promposals”—have been getting grander and more glamorous as the “asking season” progresses. These sometimes over-the-top and often very public promposals have attracted some serious negative attention, with some believing that they are manipulative and coercive toward the people to whom they are directed. I have recently heard peeps about banning really public ones.

First, let’s establish why these elaborate asks are considered manipulative. I am going to use the example of a boy asking a girl in this editorial simply because that is the scenario with the majority of the promposals, but I am completely aware that it can happen with any gender combination. If a boy makes a big deal out of asking a girl to prom or ball and does it in front of a large audience, some maintain that this puts the girl in uncomfortable situations, as she is almost “forced” to say yes, or else risk looking insensitive. I agree that very public promposals place girls in uncomfortable situations. However, the very principle of banning these public asks that may create uncomfortable situations infers that we do not think the females of NHS can handle dealing with situations in which they are uncomfortable. Secondly, saying that elaborate proposals are manipulative may be true, but so are many aspects of life. It might be uncomfortable to say no to smoking marijuana when all your friends are doing it, but that is what we teach our kids, our students, and our siblings to do, right? If we remove all uncomfortable situations on the surface and erase all opportunities for children and teens to learn how to “just say no,” then they will never learn how to say it and will inevitably be coerced into doing something they don’t want to do in a situation below the surface. (By “on the surface” I mean public happenings, like promposals; by “below the surface” I mean illegal things that happen behind closed doors).

“Forced” is the wrong word to use when describing why someone says yes to a public promposal. The better choice would likely be manipulated, because no one is physically making anyone else say yes or no. The girl might feel manipulated into saying yes because she is afraid of looking insensitive or mean. She is being peer pressured into giving a specific response. If I can remember correctly, I spent a great majority of my freshmen health class learning different ways to say no. We would act out situations involving peer pressure and we would practice saying no and walking away. I understand that this skill is more difficult for some than it is for others. Nevertheless, if the school administration decides to ban public promposals, doesn’t that suggest that they don’t believe  the females of NHS (it is mostly females) are not able to exercise this skill and stand up for themselves? Since it is mostly females who are being proposed to, I would argue that we would also be making a statement of weakness toward our female population if we were to strongly discourage or ban public promposals.

Disclaimer: I am writing about the importance of being able to speak your mind, but that doesn’t mean I think I have perfected it myself. I am working towards that goal, just as I am sure many people are.

Instead of lamenting promposals’ manipulative qualities, we should use this opportunity to empower the NHS student population. If people want to say no to something, they should have enough strength within themselves and enough self-confidence within themselves to muster that negative. If we are assuming, and I think we are, that our students cannot do that, then that points to a real problem within our community. Maybe we thought that the month spent on “saying no strategies” in freshmen health class did it, but clearly some believe it did not. In an ideal world, every student feels comfortable speaking his or her mind in any situation he or she is in. Let’s focus how we can make strides in the direction of that goal, not on how we can eliminate public demonstrations of our failure to achieve it.

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