Students, faculty offended over signage at Pacifica High School rally

by Chris O’Neal

“What kind of twisted ‘battle of the sexes’ garbage is this?” wrote one Twitter user reacting to signs posted on the gymnasium wall at Oxnard’s Pacifica High School for the annual Battle of the Sexes rally.

“We enjoy our WHOLE month.” read one sign, replete with faux blood and an emphasis on a large red “period,” while another, “We make more money” followed by dollar signs paired with “#meninist” and “Open your own doors.” A painting of a woman’s hand holding a suggestive tiny eggplant adorned another wall; an adjacent sign read, “You were just another guy on my hit list.”

Dubbed the Battle of the Sexes Rally, the event is a 10-year tradition that went viral across social media via students, parents and employees outraged by the signage after students posted pictures on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Pictures received by the VCReporter confirmed the signs’ presence in the gym, and several calls to our office described the anger over the incident.

Pacifica High School’s student body is made up of 3,250 students, and all students were present for the rally on Friday, March 18, according to Principal Bijou Beltran. The Associated Student Body, which was responsible for the posters, is a student government class that students can take as an elective.

Beltran says that the posters in question were removed prior to the rally, adding that “We understand some of the remaining posters were still culturally insensitive and gender-biased.”

“We have addressed all of the students involved and they are understanding of how inappropriate many of their posters were,” said Beltran via email. “The students are/were extremely remorseful.”

Kimberly Filar, who teaches British literature and college prep at Pacifica, says that many students were outraged by the signs and that discussions were held in classrooms following the event.

“A lot of them didn’t understand what was so offensive about [the signs],” said Filar, who also acts as advisor to the school’s Sex education club. “I think this generation doesn’t understand the struggle for equal rights that women have gone through in the past.”

Beltran says that the original posters were hung in the gym prior to review by the Pacifica High School activities director and that photos were taken prior to their removal, adding that “Any and all posters will be reviewed prior to any type of display” in the future.

Furthermore, says Beltran, there will no longer be a Battle of the Sexes-themed rally following the incident.

“We are going to completely re-evaluate how the students decorate for future Sadie Hawkins Rallies,” said Beltran, “keeping to the theme of the dance and foregoing any gender commentary.”

A Sadie Hawkins dance involves women asking men to be their guests. The dance traditionally takes place in November, but this year’s dance was held in early March, which also happens to be Women’s History Month.

Beltran called the incident a “somber lesson learned” for the students.

“I assure you that inappropriate, insensitive, discriminating posters will not ever be a part of what we do again,” said Beltran.