Dress Code Drama

Posted: June 11, 2015 in Gender Stuff, Non-fiction
Tags: , , , , , , ,

There’s a big fuss lately about high school dress codes being sexist and oppressive to women, and then there’s the whole #freethenipple thing. And of course there’s the other side, about how dress codes should be even stricter and why women should absolutely, definitely cover up. I’d like to find  happy medium.

First of all, it’s weird as anything that female nipples are censored and male nipples aren’t. But, that’s the society we live in and I’m gonna go along with that. If there’s a day when women walk around topless in the summer the same as men, I won’t be scandalized, but I doubt I’m gonna do it myself because that’s just the culture I was raised in, that says, “Ladies have breasts and they should be covered.” And I agree, because even as a straight woman when I see a cleavage being shown off my eyes naturally and unintentionally follow it. I, personally, do not want that kind of attention. So I have nothing against the normalization of the bare female chest, but I’m not going to contribute to it.

On the other hand I’m all for public breastfeeding. It’s healthy, natural, and let’s be honest here, if you’re sexualizing a boob that’s being used to feed a baby, YOU are the problem. A mother and baby should be able to do their thing and be undisturbed whether the milk comes from a bottle or a breast.

The other big thing causing an uproar are high school dress codes, which unfortunately have two types of crusaders against them: people who are genuinely concerned that girls are being treated unfairly by the dress code as compared to the boys in their schools; and girls who just want to get away with wearing some frankly inappropriate clothes. I’ve seen the school dress codes where boys get a sentence and girls get a page. I’ve read about entire groups of girls wearing crop top to schools to prove a point. I’ve heard stories of a restrictive dress code being introduced a month before prom, when most girls already had their dresses. I know of lots of girls who would get sent home for a barely-above-the-knee skirt because “it distracts the boys” when he boys themselves are wearing above-the-knee shorts. Now that’s sexist.

My stance is this: dress codes are important to maintain a semi-professional environment, but should be enforced equally for girls and boys. If knees can’t be shown in this particular school, then neither boys nor girls should show their knees. If girls must cover their shoulders, then so should the boys. Or you could take a page out of my high school’s book and have a simple dress code that goes roughly, “Remember the 3 B’s: we don’t want to see your bellies, boobs, or butts, or the underthings that cover ’em.” There was a longer one in the student handbook that also covers things like clothing with offensive slogans or that promotes drugs or alcohol. And because it was simple, clear, and unambiguous, we never had a problem with it. Never to my knowledge was a girl told to cover up her bra straps (honestly who can tell the difference between a bra strap or an undershirt’s spaghetti strap?), but one time a guy was told to change his shirt when it had an image of a woman in a bikini on it. (Similar to this, but it only showed her from about her shoulder to her knees.)

The point is, school dress codes should be about dressing appropriately and being respectful to your fellow students and your teachers. It should have nothing to do with distracting the boys – can you say sexist? Or how about Dear girl, boys’ education is clearly more important than yours so please make sacrifices when they don’t even want to ignore their hormones and focus. It should also have nothing to do with protecting a teenager from sexual looks, because that’s only the school’s job insofar as teaching boys to be decent human beings. (Here in Canada there’s a gradual system for age of consent, like until you’re 18 there are limits on what you can give consent for, but it is technically legal for teens as young as 12 to have sex with, say, someone their own age. I’m not saying it’s good or right, but it is legal and therefore not a public school’s job to police.)

Anyway, I guess my point is: all things in moderation, including modesty and feminism.

Thanks for reading!
~Another Jesus Freak


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