Winter Formal Avoids Perpetuation of Gender Roles and Heteronormativity

The shift from a Sadie Hawkins dance, commonly known as Sadie’s, to a Winter Formal was an apt decision that makes the dance more welcoming for all students by eliminating the expectation that girls ask boys to the dance. The Winter Formal is an exciting, lively experience, and the name change enforces the idea that the dance is for everyone in the Sidwell community to enjoy. The change has an overwhelmingly positive impact and will contribute to a more relaxed and inviting environment for the student body. 

The long-standing culture surrounding school dances at Sidwell puts far less emphasis on having a date relative to other schools. As sophomore Ari Gedan said, “You can have a good time going to a [Sidwell] dance without asking someone.” Although asking a date can be a fun way to bond with someone, there is little pressure and significance attached to doing so. When students want to ask someone, they are free to do so; when others don’t, they face no judgment. Replacing the Sadie Hawkins dance with a Winter Formal further relieves the pressure of asking a date while also maintaining a light-hearted approach to school dances. 

However, some students argue that the change has a detrimental effect on gender stereotypes. Sadie’s has historically been intended to break the standard of only boys asking girls on dates and to dances. While this perspective is an important consideration, the new name more effectively combats the problematic gender roles and heteronormativity. Because the name “Sadie’s” specifies that girls ask boys, it perpetuates the expectation that boys should be asking girls to any other dance. 

Sidwell’s decision to remove the Sadie’s label from the dance eased the gender roles that it unintentionally reinforced while also keeping the dance enjoyable for the entire student body. Sophomore Miya Routh described her thoughts on the shift as “breaking free of gender roles and heteronormativity” and being “an all and all good change.”