Schools across the country are enforcing strict dress codes, primarily on female students.
Girls are being sent home for the length of their shorts, showing their shoulders, or having a visible bra strap. Sending a girl home from school because of the way she is dressed is telling her that a boy’s comfort is more valuable than her education. There is nothing inherently sexual about a shoulder or a knee or collar bones, but the over-sexualization of women and girls in our society makes it acceptable to act as though they are taboo, and should not be seen in school or work environments.
People need to realize that there is nothing unprofessional about a woman’s body. Knees, calves, and arms are not sexual organs, and should not be treated as such.
Instead of teaching girls to cover up, we as a society should be teaching men how to respect women and treat them like human beings and not just sexual objects. Telling a girl she needs to cover up to stop distracting boys perpetuates a culture of victim blaming that is already a large part of our society. It tells girls that “boys will be boys” and it is not the boys’ responsibity to control themselves around women. It also underestimates men and boys, by preaching that they cannot control themselves when enticed by a woman’s body.
Girls are often told that boys are biologically programmed to objectify women, when the truth is, they are taught objectification from a young age due to rape culture being so heavily ingrained in our society.
School environments should be safe places for all students to feel free to dress in ways that they see fit and appropriate for the environment, and not just for the comfort of the male students and faculty. Male teachers should be more focused on educating their students than policing their students clothing and bodies.
Dress codes are enforced nationwide, and teach girls to be ashamed of their bodies and cover up, for fear of attracting the male gaze, while also preaching that boys lack the maturity to see girls as anything more than sexual objects. Instead of teaching mutual respect, we are demonstrating that in order for a woman to be respected and taken seriously by their male counterparts and classmates, they must dress modestly. Dress codes in schools make young girls believe that their education is for some reason less valuable than the education of a male student.