Friday, October 24, 2014

#WeAreMoreThanADistraction

Dress Codes are sexist towards women and, in some cases, are completely unnecessary and hypocritical. In schools all over the world today, girls are getting called out for what school staff deem as “inappropriate for school wear,” such as leggings and tank tops. However, male students may continue on with their day without interruption.

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This is actually on a high school website!
Take the dress code at your school as an example. Are there any main dress code guidelines directed specifically at males, aside from the no sagging rule? Typically there aren’t. However, there is an abundant amount of restrictions and fine lines for a girl to follow regarding her way of dress. A very common guideline is no spaghetti strap tank tops. This “no spaghetti strap” rule affected one high school student from North Ogden Junior High, in Utah. She wore a tank top to school one day, covering her shoulders with both a scarf and her hair, but still got called out by the assistant principal because tank tops were not permitted in the dress code. In order to fix this “offense” she was required to change into gym clothes. Not only did this cause her emotional despair, but being publicly humiliated by the assistant principal, who forced her to finish her day off in gym clothes, took her humiliation one step further. This was all caused because her assistant principal deemed her attempt of covering up, “not good enough.” The Utah student was spared some embarrassment in comparison to Miranda Larkin of Oakleaf High School in Florida. Miranda was not given the opportunity to change into gym clothes. Instead she was forced into what is known as a “shame suit.” The shame suit was an oversized, bright yellow t-shirt with ‘DRESS CODE VIOLATION’ displayed across the body of the shirt. To pair off the t-shirt she was also given bright red sweats to match. How can these articles of clothing not distract the boys and girls of her class? Clearly, this outfit was created to send a message, and when messages are sent, aren’t they supposed to be noticed? This actually goes against the purpose of the dress code, to prevent distraction, and it humiliates the student at the same time. Congrats society, you win “The Most Hypocritical” award.

School makes teen wear 'shame suit' for too-short skirt

Other articles of clothing frequently targeted by dress code rules are yoga pants and leggings. People have made the argument that the way women dress, like in leggings, is distracting to boys. Which raises the question of whose education is more important, being that girls are typically the people sent out of class whereas the male gender remain in class without any complaint. So who’s learning is being distracted, the “hormonal boys” in the class, or a girl sent out for a costume change? People say that they can’t help looking, and they won’t be able to focus in school, but is it really a girl’s job to ensure they can control themselves? Society as a whole is blaming the girls for this. It’s the ladies’ fault for dressing like that; they’re asking to be distracting. However, I think that it is the other way around. If boys, and other women, for that matter, grew up thinking positively about a girls’ body, and learned to not sexualize our body, then we wouldn’t have to change the dress code for the boys’ greater good in school. Is it really that big of a deal if a girl wears some leggings to school? Most girls wear them to be comfortable, not to show off anything. Not all boys think or act that way either, so should we assume this biased stereotype about boys too? There is one article I found called Seeing A Woman: A Conversation Between A Father and Son that I really enjoyed reading. It proves my point that all men do not think of women as sex objects. Father Nate Pyle says that when he sees his son looking at a girl in that certain way, he's going to have a talk with him about treating women like they are more than just objects of lust. He plans to tell his son that "It is a women's responsibility to dress herself in the morning. It is your responsibility to look at her like a human being regardless of what she is wearing." That is a very powerful and true quote.

If a dress code must be enforced, it should at least be consistent. Not just between genders, but within one gender itself. An experiment at Washington High School proved that consistent enforcement is a problem. Candee Blanc, a junior at Washington High School (WHS), purposefully wore short dresses and skirts to school in order to prove a point. Weighing 104 pounds at 5’3, Candee is very petite among her classmates, which proved as an advantage in upholding her school dress code. She never was reprimanded for her short and revealing clothing, whereas a close friend of hers, Athena Hamilton, was continuously singled out for dress code violations. Athena is bigger in size when compared to Candee, and toward the end of the year Athena questioned Washington’s assistant principal as to why she was in trouble for wearing the same leggings as other students the same day, the assistant principal replied, “It’s more noticeable on you,” as if to say because she was bigger she couldn’t “pull off” the clothing as well. How can we validate the school dress code, when it’s clearly being misused among schools, and, in fact, leads to body shaming?

Perhaps the sexist and hypocritical dress code does have good intentions when it is initially enforced. According to Fresno Pacific University News, the dress code is used as a safety precaution and to ensure better learning amongst all students. However, we see that due to the misuse and shaming of girls’ bodies this is not what is accomplished. In fact, the opposite occurs. Girls begin to feel uneasy when choosing clothes for school because they fear the embarrassment of being called down to the office. To say that this offense just happens in a school setting is a major understatement. Women all over are being deemed as distracting because of their wardrobe choices. The amount of women dismissed from their jobs because their outfits are “tempting” is sickening. For example, a woman named Debrahlee Lorenza was fired from her job at Citibank because she was too “hot.” She wore the same professional attire as the other women in the bank she worked with, but was told that they didn’t have to worry about them turning her on because “as their general unattractiveness rendered moot their sartorial choices, unlike plaintiff.” To think that an article of clothing can decide your ability to fully function around the opposite sex is wrong and ridiculous.
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This is what Debrahlee wore to work-completely proffessional. 


Don’t get me wrong, I agree there should be some limitations, but not at the expense of someone's emotional safety. If these limitations are enforced they must be equal and just, as any good regulation and guideline should be. What starts locally can have a more global effect in a matter of seconds. Thanks to the technology and media of today’s generation, people are awakening to what’s going on in the world and can (hopefully) fix the flaws in society abruptly and right. Girls and their families everywhere are using the media to explain to the world their problems with the dress code. Before there was social media, the problem that the girl in question and the school had about the dress code would have stayed really quiet, only between the school and the family. Now girls can share their problems with their school and how they’re handling the dress code on a variety of social media. After so many years of women living in the shadow of men, they are ready to break free from constantly pleasing others and have developed perspective and now have people listening to their voice.

Conclusion: Updated November 14

The dress code has been an issue in many schools for a long time. Dress codes are sexist towards women and, in some cases, are completely unnecessary. Dress codes are relevant to digital citizenship because when someone violates the dress code, schools try to keep it quiet, but the media makes it so that people can tell everyone about their experiences with the dress code. One of the main reasons I wanted to write about this subject was because all I saw on the internet were stories about dress codes, and dress code violations. I realized that a lot was being said in the media about dress codes, but nothing was being done, so I guess I wanted to make a difference. I was hoping that someone would read my blog and care as much as I do about it to do something about it at their local school, or to at least bring it up. It gave me a good feeling when I heard that I was invited to speak at a Student-Faculty Senate meeting discussing this very subject, because I had made a small difference after all. All of the comments left on my blog have agreed with me (so far), so I haven’t been challenged to change my opinion, but they did give me more examples to support my thesis, thanks to some of the links that were left in the comments. I got really excited the minute I heard that I got the opportunity to make my own blog. I was looking forward to sharing my thoughts with people, and seeing what they thought about my opinion. Blogging was a definite adventure for me.

5 comments:

  1. This is a great post on a very important topic Bert. I thought it was a good idea when you said dress codes should be consistent between genders. I don't think girls should be responsible for boys not being able to control themselves because of what we wear. Although I agree that there should be some limitations. I found an interesting article where girls stood up to an insane dress code that banned clothes like tank tops, skinny jeans, sweatpants, headbands and so much more. I mean what could the girls wear? Enjoy the article.

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  2. You did a good job in writing this log, Bert. Making a dress code in order to stop girls from wearing too much exposed clothes does make sense, but the aim for the code is to keep boys' attention in studying, instead of glancing girls' bodies all the time. In the case you mentioned, I think the principle was not appropriate enough. Forcing the girl to wear the punished clothes, however, make the boys to watch her on the contrary. On the other hand, even I am a boy, I wonder why the society doesn't blame us. If we boys can focus on studying on school work on doing other things, then the dress code could be less strict, or even not existed. Keep picking on girls is not fair.Here's a article that associated to your topic. Dress Code Wars: Stop Telling Boys They’re Distracted - See more at: http://goodmenproject.com/ethics-values/mkdn-the-distracted-boys-of-the-dress-code-wars/#sthash.J8LpxGpd.dpuf enjoy reading it.
    MegaZ

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  3. Great work Bert! I think you blog topic is very interesting because yes school dress codes can become very sexist. I love your example and video clip of Miranda Larkin. I also think your example of Candee Blanc who wore short skirts everyday and her friends were the ones getting called out because it was more noticeable on them is extremely unacceptable. That is not only body shaming but also making girls who are bigger have lower self esteem. I also think this isn't just an example this happens to a lot of girls everywhere in schools. My personal experience was the same thing i wore "too short of skirts" to class one day while another girl with the same length or shorter skirt who was much smaller than i wouldn't get called out. Anyway thanks for sharing Bert!
    - Lambsandsheeps101

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  4. Great job Bert! I'm very intrigued by your post because sometimes I also feel that the setting of dress codes is futile. You show enough facts and link them together gracefully to support your position. I really agree you say that dress code often can not accomplish their original purpose, which is not to make students get distracted by others' outfit. But the opposite, sometimes the discipline not only distract others, but also irritate the students who get punished. I also think that another way schools can set up instead of many not appropriate dress code is "smart casual" school outfit, or to recommend students to dress "smartly". This blog is an example She's a career advisor who recommend some dress style for students and professionals. If schools can cancel some dress codes and make some recommendations for all students, not only girls, students will be more willing to select some other outfits which also satisfy the school. Because the other purpose of dress code is to make students dress respectfully to all faculty, some cloth should be permitted as long as students feel comfortable and faculty feel respected.

    Thank you very much Bert! I love this post!

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  5. Bert, this is an intriguing subject and it brings up a lot of controversy for the teenage girls in our society. I love the way you express your opinions in an interesting way! When I was in middle school I faced this issue almost daily. I was always getting in trouble for dresses being too short! I discovered covering up and constantly buying new clothes to fit my growing body was the only way I could hide myself in order to not get in trouble. I felt like my growth as a young woman was impacting others negatively which made growing up seem like a negative process. I then jumped to the conclusion that my development was a distraction to the boys because I would be forced to change or call home, missing out on a class discussion. Apparently, their education was more important then mine. I enjoy being on student council now so I can represent girls and our right to express ourselves with clothing. What is a dress-code that you think is appropriate for schools? If you would like to watch this video on a school with a very strict dress-code and see how the students are responding to it, I really recommend this film.
    Thanks,
    -Katie

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