Sunday, August 09, 2015

Let’s discuss the dress code and the faux sexism debate

Student protest is not new.  For decades America’s youth have stood on the ramparts and decried mistreatment of minorities, gays, and women.  They have marched in civil rights rallies, they have marched against wars, then taken stands against major issues within our society that have serious repercussions to their future and their children’s future. 

Now, a new cause!

PLEASANTON (CBS SF) — A high school student  in Pleasanton has launched a petition to change her school’s dress code, saying it is sexist and unfairly singles out young women.

“It’s unfairly making girls change the way they dress,” said Foothill High School  junior Sanam Nawim. “It really isn’t a fair dress code or a fair policy.”

Dress codes are hardly new.  Let’s see the sexist dress code policy.

Clothes, apparel or attire must be sufficient to conceal undergarments at all times. Clothing, apparel or attire that fails to provide adequate coverage of the body, including but not limited to, see-through or fishnet fabrics, bare midriffs, tank tops, tube tops, halter tops, spaghetti strap tops, off-the-shoulder or low-cut tops or dresses, skirts and shorts, which are shorter than mid-thigh in length, sagging pants, and tattered or torn clothing, are prohibited.

Seems reasonable enough except that people fail to remember that the clientele in a high school are teenagers.  They are going to push the envelope because it’s in their nature to do so.  It’s also the job of us as adults to set the limit and say “hold up.”

Take the issue with Toronto student, Alexi Halket.

  Crop Top Protest 20150526  

In my mind that’s not appropriate for the classroom.  Since I’m the adult and my job is to create a learning environment that is best for everyone, I get to be involved in enforcing a policy that is appropriate.  Alexi (pictured above with the “offending” dress) is basically wearing a sports bra.  What say you Alexi?

“So today a MALE teacher spoke to the vice principal regarding the shirt I was wearing, saying that it looked "too much like a sports bra." First of all, what's wrong with a sports bra? It does it's job of covering boobs, and why is SKIN perceived as "inappropriate".”

The male teacher has already been publically vilified by the a female student, and has already taken a quite the risk asking the student to cover up.  The problem with a sports bra is simple; you don’t wear one to work unless the outfit is part of uniform for work.  Sports bras do have a place in public schools.  Basketball or volleyball practice for one, or even skimpier outfits when students are swimming.  But the line is, and should be drawn, at the classroom. 

“I even told them that I had a whole lineup of cute body positive outfits that made me feel beautiful because this week is my birthday!”

Positive body image has its merits.  It’s also the new and incredibly convenient method to hammer at teachers that set boundaries.  Girls are starting to go after teachers crying that male teachers are sexist, perverts, or are attacking the self esteem of a student that has a questionable body image.  And parents are buying into it.  Three years ago I had a parent call me and insist that her daughters clothes were appropriate and that I somehow felt threatened by her growing femininity.  I calmly stated that I maintained boundaries of professionalism in my classroom, that my actions were far from unreasonable, and that the student clothing was fine for other situations but just not my classroom.   After about 15 minutes the parent and I came to a mutual understanding that had to do, a lot, with acknowledgement that what her daughter was wearing was socially acceptable.  It was, well, fairly ridiculous.

And Ms. Halket?

“(The school said) this is a professional environment," Halket told The Canadian Press. "So I said, ‘yes, but the word professional comes from profession, meaning job, and this is your job, so I understand if you have to be professional, but I have to go to school and I’m going to wear whatever makes me comfortable.”

So there. 

I will make an observation that girls are more targeted with dress code violations than guys and the reason for that is really simple.  They wear more inappropriate clothing.  Period.  That’s not discriminatory, that’s factual.  Case in point; the backless see-through shirts.  The new fad at Ukiah High is girls wearing shirts that are see through and almost totally backless, then wearing bras or bikini tops to make it look like they are at the beach.  Some ladies knew I was going to pop them for it but started complaining of a double standard, that I didn’t enforce dress codes on guys.  I have yet to see any backless clothing by men, nor have I seen men wearing see-through clothing.  There isn’t a double standard.  Men and women are simply dressing different. 

There is a good chance that this issue comes up again next year because these things have a cycle and since it’s already a national issue, UHS is coming soon. 

blog comments powered by Disqus