This morning I saw an article and photo of a young woman protesting her school’s dress code, which was absolutely awesome. If I had been her parent I would have been as proud as I could be. But some of the comments made my brain hurt and show just how little people know about school dress codes and how much they want to pretend sexism is not a thing.
Surprise! Most school dress codes are sexist. They are not equal and they are not about teaching kids to grow up and dress like professionals, which was one of the funniest comments I saw. When I was in school we really had no dress code. We wore whatever we felt like and it wasn’t an issue. I never once saw a girl taken from class because of a dress code violation, it just wasn’t something that happened. Sometime in the last decade it has become a thing, and not only is it sexist, it is stupid.
In 2009 my old school instituted a dress code. Boys are allowed to wear pretty much the gamut of male clothing without restriction, save for a limit on what can be put on tee shirts and they use the old standby of “nothing offensive” which we all know is subjective. There is no inseam requirement on shorts even though men have anything from ankle-touching board shorts to the three-inch inseam running short. I’ll repeat that, because it is important: There is no inseam requirement on male shorts.
The female dress code, however, is very limiting. No tank tops, no spaghetti straps, no visible bra straps, nothing shorter than “cap sleeves” and nothing that shows the stomach in any way, which is both an oversight on the male dress code which doesn’t have that requirement and something that would have been a problem for me every time I raised my hand. I am six feet tall and have boobs. Every time I raise my arms in almost anything short of a tunic, my stomach shows.
The female dress code includes a variety of rules about skirts, all of which want girls to dress like it is 1955, but most importantly there is a rule about the length of shorts. They must have an inseam no less than five inches. Um… I don’t own a single pair of shorts that long and I have no clue where you would get them. Most female shorts have a three inch inseam. And why is it that boys do not have this requirement? Boys can wear running shorts with their dicks hanging out but girls can’t wear the same length? I’m pretty sure that is the textbook definition of sexism.
The comments I saw about these things made my head explode.
One woman wrote: “No spaghetti straps because they can get caught and torn and then your boobs are showing.” Dafuq? I’ve never torn a spaghetti strap, I have never seen one torn, I never tore one in fights and my government issue tank? It has narrow straps. They don’t tear lady, you’re just stupid.
A man said, “it’s trying to teach them to grow up and wear professional clothing.”
False. I worked for a Fortune 100 company. The dress code included 16 inch miniskirts, camisoles and tank-tops. In fact, the male dress code was far more restrictive and could have been considered sexist toward men.
The post was chock full of comments like this, made by people as far as I am concerned, too stupid to breathe. And they are part of the problem. Too many people don’t want to acknowledge the existence of sexism and in doing so they propagate the problem. There are dress codes like this popping up all over the country and the defense for them is that young women are distracting, without any concern about BOYS BEING JUST AS DISTRACTING TO YOUNG WOMEN.
It is a fact that our society is sexist. If it wasn’t, boys would have the same restrictions as girls. Nobody wears shorts. Nobody wears sleeveless shirts. Nobody can bare their stomach and nobody can wear sandals. Or how bout a uniform? Problem solved.
But that isn’t what is happening. Time and again girls are sent home for things that are ignored if boys wear them. My school dress code for girls is fifteen lines. The boys? Four. Females have a far longer list of what they cannot wear which includes the majority of what society considers “female clothing.”
This nonsense has to stop. Nobody is asking that women be allowed to do anything special, we are just asking that girls be allowed to be girls as much as boys be allowed to be boys. It is pretty damn simple.