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To those distracted by the magnificent female shoulder


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During a North assembly in the auditorium about healthy relationships, we were asked to participate in a case study where we gave our input on the story of a girl named Tracy who wore a short skirt to school and two boys flipped up her skirt and took pictures without her consent. In the row behind me, a student in a purple hoodie raised his hand when the choice “she was wearing a short skirt, it’s what she wanted” came up. He then proceeded to yell at the top of his lungs, “That’s why we have dress codes!”

The dress code from the North student handbook reads, “…students may not wear clothes that distract students or teachers from the conduct of educational activities. The following are examples of prohibited clothing: sleeveless undershirts, lifter shirts, tube tops without a shirt over them, visible underwear, uncovered midriffs, and clothing with holes in inappropriate places…”

Most of these limitations are specifically oriented towards girls, as modern day trends usually involve things that are prohibited in schools. However, when a girl is sent out of class to change it can be a sexist and dangerous move.

Let me try to put this in perspective by creating a scenario.

Let’s say Tracy is wearing a sleeveless top. She walks into class, and halfway through the class, the teacher sends her down to the deans’ office for her choice of clothing. Simple, right?

I’m going to retell that story: Tracy walks into class, feeling great because she knows she looks good. She goes to her seat and the teacher notices her shirt is sleeveless, but decides to let it slide. Class begins and Tracy is perfectly attentive, listening to the review for the big test tomorrow, knowing she needs the grade. However, the teacher notices that Jon next to her is a little distracted by how good Tracy looks. Jon also needs to do well on the test the next day, and the teacher, remembering that, chooses that moment to dress code and send Tracy down to the deans’ office.

The teacher sent her down because she felt that her clothes were distracting and getting in the way of Jon’s learning experience.

The teacher decided Tracy needed to leave so Jon could learn properly.

The teacher decided that Jon’s education was more important than Tracy’s.

The teacher decided a boy’s education was more important than a girl’s.

If Tracy was a girl who got distracted by something like men’s calves and Jon was wearing basketball shorts, chances are, nobody would bother to think to put that on the dress code.

In a society where there is already gender inequality, places nurturing the younger generations (schools), should be doing everything they can do make sure the future is more equal. Rather than teaching girls to change so boys can be comfortable, we should teach boys to show respect, and we can’t do that if we put girls down everyday for “distracting” them with their clothes.

According to the deans, the dress code exists to maintain a professional environment to help kids get ready for the real world. However, they forget that how people dress is how they express themselves, and when limitations are put on how students dress, consequently those limitations transfer over to students personalities. High school is a time when kids are figuring themselves out and testing out different things, including apparel. It is not a professional environment for teens fresh out of grade school, rather it is where they spend half of their day. 14 is too young of an age to be taught how to be professional.

Trashing the dress code doesn’t necessarily mean total devastation on the face of the earth. Schools with no dress codes are flourishing, now more than ever. Walter Payton College Preparatory High School in Chicago was named the best public high school in America this year, and their dress code is nowhere to be found. Dress codes are not imperative to be a good school, rather it is imperative to give a good role model where students are respected for who they are, including their choice of clothing.

So dear Purple Hoodie In The Row Behind Me, with all due respect, show some respect.

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To those distracted by the magnificent female shoulder