Last month it was Taylor Swift, this month it’s dress codes.
This whole debacle about how much feminists hate dress codes was brought back to me recently by a particularly stupid article, making mountains out of molehills as Jezebel is wont to do, complaining that a school was telling girls to not wear leggings or tights as pants. This is, interestingly, not sexist as the dress code never mentions males or females. One must, therefore, assume that if a boy came to school in tights or leggings that were not appropriately covered by a shirt or skirt that was fingertip length, they would be dresscoded as well.
Let’s get one thing straight right now before we go any further. Leggings. Are. Not. Pants.* They will never be pants. This isn’t sexist, it’s common sense.
Go to any major feminist website, type in “dress code” in the search box and anywhere from 1 to 3 pages in you are likely to find some reference to dress codes being sexist, classist, and part of “rape culture.”
Why? Because they lack a basic understanding of what a dress code is meant to do.
1. To provide an environment that is less distracting for students and employees. A shirtless man or a woman in a micro-mini are going to prove equally distracting. Some schools also ban certain color combinations (for gang reasons) or “jerseys, numbers, cities, or state names” for sports rivalries.
2. To get students used to following a dress code in their future jobs. Showing up for an interview in saggy pants or a mesh tank top is not going to land you a job, might as well learn how to dress appropriately now. Dress codes in offices are there so that employees will be taken seriously and not offend customers. I work as a receptionist for an office that lets me wear jeans, but there is a place where the “relaxed” dress code ends. If I showed up in a miniskirt and a tube top, there would be trouble, because the office is a family oriented business and it would not be appropriate.
One of the major complaints that comes up over and over again is that dress codes are “more restrictive” for woman than they are men, regardless of age, but here’s a quick question…have you ever looked at what’s on offer in an average department store for men as opposed to women? The difference in what options are offered is pretty glaring. How many “inappropriate” options for men and boys are there to police actually? I’m not referring to matters of taste or fashion, but simply to things that are inappropriately baring for a public place like an office or school.
Aside from shirts with questionable slogans and saggy pants, there isn’t much.
Women’s fashion is much less restrictive (and much more given to showing vast expanses of skin) than men’s fashion is. How is it surprising that there are, therefore, more restrictions on what “feminine” clothing is appropriate in a school or office?
The “Rape Culture” accusation is absolutely stupid. They trot out lines like “our culture teaches ‘don’t get raped’ instead of ‘don’t rape” (Is it wrong to teach people “how not to get mugged” too? Because even though theft is a crime, it still seems to happen an awful lot and I’d rather minimize my chances rather than bitch that “society should have taught that mugger to not mug people!” in the aftermath) which is a complete misunderstanding of teaching women to use their brains when out in public. It’s like saying “Oh don’t bother having an emergency plan in case of an earthquake, California is going to pass a law that outlaws earthquakes!”**
They say that school’s shouldn’t be teaching girls that they are responsible for boys being distracted by them, because we shouldn’t be acting like teenagers are uncontrollable walking hormones, because that promotes rape culture or something.
But they are uncontrollable walking hormones. Time bombs that at puberty explode into monsters that are, pretty much uncontrollably, distracted by girls…but even more so when said girl is in a tube top or extremely tight leggings.
So are girls for that matter.
That’s why shirtless boys feature as much in media targeted to girls, as scantily clad women feature in media targeted to boys.
So we restrict clothing for both genders in the, often times hopeless, belief that it will keep these hormone driven little cretins eye’s on their textbook instead of the ass of the boy or girl sitting next to them.
It doesn’t really work to well to be honest, but it’s not “rape culture” or “sexism” that drives the use of school dress codes that does it, it’s sheer desperation to keep teens focused on their school work.
*In the interest of equality, I would also like to add that Bike Shorts. Are. Not. Pants. I don’t care what the packaging says or the fact that they are called shorts. If you aren’t actively on your bike, they are not day wear.
**Not that rape is like a natural disaster, just that laws don’t do an awful lot to stop bad things from happening and you should have the common sense to prepare for the worst and minimize the problem.