Opinion: Dress code gender inequality

by Cougar News Contributor 651 views0

By Karen Esparza

There are many undeniable inequalities among both genders that every single one of you have been subjected to at least once throughout your life. Though we have come a long way as a society, there is still much more that needs improving. Gender inequality in school dress codes in the k-12 system has been gaining more and more attention in recent years. This is predominantly due to the outrage of female students and their parents regarding double standards and harsher punishments on dress code “violations”.

School dress codes normally consist of the prohibition of articles of clothing containing profanities, nudity, violence and anything of that nature– for boys. Now, for girls, crop tops, short shorts, low-cut blouses, tube tops, spaghetti straps, backless tops and torn or ripped clothing are considered inappropriate.

DFY IT picTo clarify, the problem isn’t within the dress code policy itself, it is with the reasoning and execution of it. The dress code policies directed toward boys prohibit articles of clothing that are deemed inappropriate for boys to wear at a school. But, the dress code policies directed toward girls are intended to keep them from dressing in a manner which has been deemed as a “distraction” for the boys.

“I have been sent home twice for what I was wearing. And, each time, it was completely unfair. I was wearing a shirt that was cut up from the sides to make it into a tank top with a sports bra under it. I spoke to the assistant principal and he told me I had to go home and change. But, it’s pretty funny, as we were driving across campus in her golf cart, we passed by a guy wearing a shirt cut up exactly like mine and the yard duty didn’t even bat an eye. It really is a huge double standard.” said Kylie Meritt, a student and Golden Valley High School.

The issue with displaying a girl’s “exposed” body as an educational distraction or as something inappropriate is that it teaches them to them to feel uncomfortable in the bodies that they’re in, it degrades the importance of their education and fuels rape culture.  When a girl is sent home because of what she was wearing, they are taught that their education is not as important and isn’t as valued as their male classmates. Because, when a girl dresses inappropriately in a classroom, she is interrupting the boys’ learning and should be punished; but when boys are leering at girl, it was her fault for dressing the way that she did and “boys will be boys”. This kind of behavior is inexcusable.

A campus supervisor at West Ranch High School who wished to not be named stated, “There’s a reason why dress codes are the way that they are. Bras, boobs and any kind of exposed skin distracts boys and makes male teachers uncomfortable. It’s not body shaming. It’s just the way that it is.”

Photo by Zoe Weiman. Pictured (left to right): Joanne Moreno, Nolan Dunnahoo, Sadia Fahimul, Emily Morris, Sabrina Tran
Photo by Zoe Weiman. Pictured (left to right): Joanne Moreno, Nolan Dunnahoo, Sadia Fahimul, Emily Morris, Sabrina Tran

Because of all these double standards, it becomes ingrained in your mind that any woman who proudly shows her body, is perceived negatively by most of society. Rather than teaching self love and respect, we are instilling scrutiny and insolence in our children.

“When boys are taught from an early age that a woman’s attire determines the way she should be treated, they grow up to have that, `Did you see what she was wearing? She was asking for it.` And, that is not okay. Boys should be and girls too should be taught to respect someone because they’re people regardless of their attire and physicality. We need teachers and administrators that understand that” said Shayna Laser, a student at College of the Canyons. `

Everyday pieces of clothing such as leggings are continuously being banned in junior high schools and high schools across the country. School administrators have even gone so far as to ban them in certain elementary schools. All that is coming of these bans is the over sexualization of an article of clothing in children as young as elementary school students. An eight year old girl wearing pink-polka-dot leggings to school could not possibly be any more of a distraction any other child wearing literally any other article of clothing.

Sophomore at William S. Hart High School, Brandon Esparza, says “Yeah, I do see a lot more girls sent home from school because of what they are wearing. Usually when a teacher or yard duty doesn’t like a guy is wearing, we just have to go put on our P.E. shirt. I don’t think I have ever actually seen a guy sent home because of something as stupid as clothes now that I think about it. But, every time a teacher sees a girl wearing something she doesn’t approve of, she’ll make it a point to call her out in front of the class or in front of her friends. Which kind of sucks and is unnecessary. And it’s embarrassing. There are probably better ways to go about it, I think.”

Everyday pieces of clothing such as leggings are continuously being banned in junior high schools and high schools across the country. School administrators have even gone so far as to ban them in certain elementary schools. All that is coming of these bans is the over sexualization of an article of clothing in children as young as elementary school students. An eight year old girl wearing pink-polka-dot leggings to school could not possibly be any more of a distraction any other child wearing literally any other article of clothing.

Schools need teach their students to love and respect one another, to value their education and not take that away from someone else because of their own hormone’s and impulsivity, and encourage individuality and self expression.