Dress Code: Is it sexist?

By: Sam Marquez

One time or another, if you have attended a public school, you’ve probably heard complaints from your female friends about not being able to wear a cute dress because of its spaghetti straps.

As of now, my 11 years of schooling have taught me that this “strict” dress code is how things work normally, but it wasn’t until recently when my young sister of eight years old had to remind me that she too could not wear that cute dress due to its straps.

I was confused at first, because I haven’t attended elementary school in many years now, and the thought of her shoulders being “distracting” completely repulsed me. She’s a child, nothing about her should be sexualized.

I somewhat understood why this rule still stands in high school; being older, we are more developed and my peers and I have been told we simply are too distracting to the boys.

This covers us girls up, but it entails boys to be sneaky, uncontrollable “horndogs.”

Following this I read up on many articles saying things like:

  1. “Don’t tell us what to wear, teach boys not to stare”
  2. “It’s our body”
  3. “It’s not like we’re coming to school naked”

I agree with 2/3 statements, the last two to be exact. You’d think me being a feminist would make me automatically agree with the first statement; the problem with this statement is it’s committing the either/or fallacy. 

This either/or fallacy takes place when you offer a solution to a problem but you purposely target a singular group just to put blame on them. In this case, you’re targeting all male adolescents. Not just the ones who do get aroused by seeing the glimpse of a shoulder. Which makes them the dirty uncontrollable “horndogs” as I mentioned earlier.

You’d be surprised at the how much influence the power of suggestion has on young minds.

“Most of our beliefs are held not because we have verified them for ourselves but for many other, different reasons. Some of those reasons range from the influence of our environment in childhood to the influence of the media in adult life, but although they are various in origin, it probably would not have escaped your attention that they all have one factor in common – their appeal to and their effect upon human suggestibility.” (leehopkins.com)

What we can take from this quote is the ideas we have today about how we should dress our children in school are decades old. If you look back at old dress codes from the early 1900’s, you’ll see a lot more oppression against both males and females.

We were never told any different and even though we are socially improving in now 2016, we still have the mindsets of those from the 1900’s.

No one has stood up to say: should we be really sexualizing children? The ones who do are a bit provincial in doing so, offending the ones we are told that will harm us, who are here to learn just as much as the next person.

Outside of school you see lots of different types of clothing, some more conservative and some more revealing. I truly understand were school boards are coming from, whether it be to protect our young eyes from seeing too much “side-boob” or just to make the school look clean and full of good students.

With that logic, shouldn’t all school boards just make uniforms mandatory?

I mean side-boob is out there in the real world anyway, and your students are going to wear whatever they want outside of school which could possibly give your school a bad name, so why not control them while you have them?

What I suggest as a solution for public schools is: if it’s not illegal than you’re fine, meaning if you aren’t naked and you are covering up your privates you should be able to wear it. With the exceptions that undergarments should not be exposed to keep some class and swim suits should not be worn, unless for the appropriate occasion.

After all, if it is a free public school (free meaning payed by taxpayers) the laws applied to citizens of the state should be applied to that of the students in the terms of clothing.

At the end of the day, it’s not really about the spaghetti straps or whatever your dress code says. It’s about waking up at asking why?

Waking up to look back at old ideas and improving them with nuisance minds. Asking why, not to stand up against authority but to find out the meaning behind what we do, and to see if that reason is still valid.

So is free public school dress code sexist?

I’d like to think so, but not just against females, against their brothers too. School dress codes have the right idea about protecting our children, but to what extent? To the point where we blame others and nothing gets done about it?

What do you think?


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