Dress codes disproportionately burden girls over boys

By Carly Harsha | Opinion Editor

One of the most heated topics among teenagers today is the dress code. What is the point in having a dress code in public schools, and who should have the responsibility of drawing the line that says what students can and cannot wear?

The answer has become obvious recently. Dress codes seem to be in place mostly to limit the sexualization of female students and to keep the teenage boys from getting, as they say, “distracted.”

Toward the end of the previous school year it was rumored that all of the RISD schools had a rule in place to ban students from wearing leggings, a popular trend. This has been debunked by new principal Mr. Philip Bates.

Asked why there is a dress code enforced, Mr. Bates said, “Our plan is to meet kids halfway. We don’t want to limit their options. Our goal is to make sure that nothing takes away from the learning environment.”

This is the answer one often receives to this question. But rather than just receive it, it is worth asking what defines a “distraction” to the learning environment, and why is it almost always female students who are the “distractors”?

Why has society over-sexualized females to the point that shoulders and thighs are now considered “scandalous”? Why would the ban of appropriate athletic leggings even be considered?

Telling females that their tank tops and athletic shorts and bra straps are inappropriate is giving them the notion that they are less than men because they need to cover their bodies to avoid being a “distraction.”

It is not the job of the female students to alleviate the distracted gazes made by the male students.

Society has taught women that they are here to be stared at, sexualized and objectified. We have to depend on others to attempt to break this long-standing stereotype.

This is not to say that a dress code is totally unnecessary. If completely unrestricted, there would be students who would take advantage of the leniency, just as people in public would if there weren’t a public indecency law enforced.

What really needs to be considered is which is more distracting to the learning environment—seeing a girl’s shoulders, or being called out in the middle of class being humiliated in front of classmates and being sent to the office to change into “appropriate” clothes?

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Categories: Opinion

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