I understand that in our society, how we dress is linked to respect. Though I love wearing gym shorts and a tank top, there are certainly occasions where I wouldn’t do so.
I decided to get to Fenway early so I could walk around, take things in, absorb the atmosphere. On an impulse, and for the first time in years, I walked into a clothing shop. Looking at the wide variety of colours, styles, and cuts, I couldn’t help but think how far we’ve come. Remember when Major League Baseball suddenly realized that if they actually reached out to women, they might be able to greatly expand their fan base? Overnight, you could, if you wanted, get pink t-shirts and pink caps. Only, it developed that’s not necessarily what women wanted from Major League Baseball, at least not exclusively. Women all over the country raised their voices and said, “You want us as loyal fans? Take us seriously. One good way to do that would be to actually ask us what we want rather than just assuming we all love pink. Another good way would be to acknowledge a lot of us not only already like the game but also know a lot about it.” Major League Baseball took the hint.
So it only took one Kentucky school district two days to send the first student home for a dress code violation. Surprise of surprises, it was a girl. Her violation was wearing a tank top with a cardigan (which would be within the Stoneleigh-Burnham dress code), which meant her collarbone was not covered up, which meant she was potentially distracting boys. (Kim) To principal Rob Akers’s credit, he agreed to meet with a group of students, and they’ve come up with proposed changes to the dress code that went before the school board two days ago (Ilyashov & Woodford County High School). Reportedly, a committee is seeking additional input, and will bring the proposal back before the Board next Monday.
“Bam! Bam! Bam bam bam!” - Bamm-Bamm Rubble
That’s what I felt like late last night as I saw first one and then another and then yet another link to stories about people looking down their noses at girls, judging what they’re wearing, and then judging them. The extreme disparities in the three examples only added to the shock.
Let’s start with Jef Rouner’s daughter. He sent her off to school one morning in a new dress, only to learn that “school officials were bothered by her bare shoulders so they forced her to cover them up” (Foster) by wearing a t-shirt over it. In addition, she was also forced to wear jeans under the dress “because the little bit of ankle showing bothered them as well.” (Foster)
And, oh yeah, she’s five years old. Let that sink in for a moment.
During the course of the summer, as a frequent Twitter user, I read innumerable posts on girls and women, what they wear, what it means, and what it ought to mean. A number of websites specifically questioned school dress codes, claiming they were belittling to girls - and, for that matter, boys - in the assumptions underlying restrictions on clothing for girls. Those assumptions might include the motivations of girls for making certain choices, the reactions of boys to those choices, and where the responsibility lies in that interplay. Culture plays a role in those assumptions, of course, but in general the majority of people in our society tend to associate revealing clothing with deliberate sexualization, assume that boys will be distracted in those cases, and ascribe responsibility to girls for their original clothing choices.