Something that has always bothered me is the difference between the dress code restrictions for boys and girls at public schools. Girls are not allowed to wear anything that exposes their shoulders, back, stomach, chest or underwear. If a girl wears shorts that are above her fingertips, she will be sent to the principal’s office and forced to change because her clothing is “disruptive to learning.” I know a girl who had to wait an hour in the principal’s office for her mom to bring her a change of clothes. This means that she missed an hour of learning because her outfit was deemed distracting to boys.
Meanwhile, boys can wear almost anything unless their pants hang too low or something offensive is written across their shirt. Instead of teaching girls to change themselves for boys, we should be teaching boys to be respectful towards women. Telling a girl that she is a distraction to her male peers often leads to her feeling guilty for any sexual harassment that she is faced with.
This type of inequality could be compared to the twisted idea of blaming women when they are raped or sexually assaulted because they were “asking for it” by wearing provocative outfits. The idea that men “can’t control themselves” is also demeaning to boys who are respectful.
As a middle school girl myself, I think that this policy needs to change and the institutionalized objectification of women has to stop.
Vivika Sweiven Crawford