Recently, my high school has undergone some changes to dress code. As a grade eleven, female student, this directly affects me. I’m not writing this because I am outraged that I can’t wear “Tiny skirts and shorts” anymore, or because I am angry that I can’t have my bra straps seen, or that my shorts have to reach the end of my fingertips. I am writing this because today after being reminded of the dress code my teacher added “This is a place of education, we don’t need those kind of distractions” to the end of her sentence.
I am writing this because I overheard my class mate tearing down another girl in her grade for wearing a crop top over the weekend. “She’s asking to get raped, leaving the house like that.” She scowled. I am writing this because one of my closest friends was told to put on a sweater because the inch of her midriff showing is distracting to boys in our class room.
The current dress code supports rape culture and teaches impressionable young men that looking at their female class mates as sexual objects is okay. As I have a human body, I have legs to walk but I do not choose to have them made into sexual objects. I have shoulders, they attach my arms to my body, but I do not choose to have them made into sexual objects when there is a bra strap peeking out. I do not choose that my male peers may not be able to control their thoughts. I do not choose that my male peers’ minds may not be able to stop undressing me every time they see my bare legs or my bra straps. I do not choose to have the injustice of this dress code be considered “Conduct”.
This dress code teaches young women to change, so that they can accommodate the needs of men. This dress code teaches young men that it’s okay to sexually objectify young women as long as their bottoms are shorter than their fingertips. This dress code teaches that men and women are not equal, even though that is what we are told.
Despite that our student handbook states that “Each student and parent should feel welcome, comfortable, and supported.” That is not the case because of this dress code. My female peers and I do not feel supported because we are ordered to face suspension or expulsion if we have defied the dress code one too many times, even though we are justified in not supporting rape culture. We do not feel comfortable when we are stared at for wearing gym clothes around the halls because they’re alternate clothing given to girls who can’t go home and change. We do not feel welcome because we are segregated in front of the class when the staff points out your bra strap showing.
All I’m asking for is change so that the students can be taught that men are not monsters, and that women are not objects.
Boys need to be taught to not objectify women. Teach boys not to get distracted by girls. If girls were distracted by boys, chances are they would tell us to focus more instead of telling the boy to cover up. Zerlina Maxwell recently took to FOX television saying “I don’t think that we should be telling women anything. I think we should be telling men not to rape women and start the conversation there.”