Dress Codes Teach More Than Discipline

I’m going to start by saying that this post might just piss some of you off. I’m willing to accept that and hear your complaints. However, I am not changing my stance on extreme dress codes. This is going to be one of my very few, very biased, posts – if not my only one.

There are so many things wrong with the way dress codes are implemented in today’s schooling system.

I have seen so many arguments for dress codes. “Back in my day…” “Teaches professionalism…” “Teaches discipline…” etc. etc. etc.. Well, in my very biased opinion, those arguments aren’t wholly accurate or relevant any more.

Let’s talk about the “back in my day” argument. Yes, I suppose back in your day it was probably fair at your school in your specific situation. I’m also sure you didn’t have any problem with your school’s dress code. That’s really great, for you, and the gender equality you think you see in today’s world. I don’t know what your dress code was, I don’t know if it was equal, but the individual circumstance isn’t what matters NOW. Hell, for a short while I thought the dress codes at my schools were gender equal. They weren’t.

Hear me out. When I was in 5th grade. When I was pre-pubescent and 9 years old. In ’05 When children were children. When I had the illusion that girls and boys were equal. The “fair and equal” dress code wasn’t so equal anymore. It was picture day, and I was so proud of my cute little jean jacket and spaghetti strap tank top with the rhinestones on it. It was such a cute outfit and I loved it. My class had just finished taking pictures and we were in back in the classroom when I felt really hot so I took off my jacket. Next thing I knew, my teacher comes to me and tells me to put my jacket on. “But I’m hot” I said. Mrs. Whatever-her-name-was told me that that didn’t matter and that I needed to put my jacket back on so that I wouldn’t distract the boys. The 5th grade, 9 & 10 year old boys.

There’s something wrong with assuming that 10 year olds sexualize girls’ shoulders.

That being said, that was JUST MY experience, which would later be followed by strict bans on yoga pants, athletic shorts, racer-back tank tops, visible bra straps, any kind of visible midriff, and any tank tops with straps that were thinner than two inches. Meanwhile, the boys could get away with virtually anything.

What is more important is that this sort of thing is happening around the country and across borders. You can find so many stories of girls being sent home, or kept from doing their class work because what they’re wearing will distract the boys and the male teachers. That is unnecessarily sexualizing humans that just want to be comfortable and learn. Instead of penalizing a girl for being ‘distracting’ to boys and encouraging rape culture. Instead of teaching young women that what they are wearing is asking for it, or begging to get in trouble, maybe we should teach young men that girls aren’t objects and to not get distracted so easily by shoulders.

If girls can control themselves and not get distracted by shoulders, so can boys.

As for teaching discipline, I would rather see young women everywhere being taught to be more focused on their classes and going to school than being restricted from learning because of what they wear. I’m tired of seeing girls getting trained to dress a certain way to cater to men and other people who might get distracted. I want to see boys and male teachers have discipline and not sexualizing girls and how they dress.

And professionalism: we ALL know that there will be a dress code in the professional world that even men have to follow. That doesn’t mean we, as young women, need to be punished and the men babied, when we dress comfortably.

If you want to prepare our generation for professionalism, that means BOTH BOYS AND GIRLS.

Right now men are growing up sexualizing women, and in the work place – that is NOT OKAY. Today women everywhere are conducting business while being looked down on by her male peers because she is a woman. When we raise children, teens, and young adults in an unequal environment, i.e. an unbalanced dress code, we are fostering the growth of adults who will maintain that inequality in the future, be it in the workplace or in their own children’s lives. That is not okay. If we want to see change, we need to start with the way we act and the way we raise our children.

Rant = Over.

If you want to read a really cool BuzzFeed article about the fight against ridiculous dress codes, follow this.