Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Enforcing School Dress Codes Teaches Girls to be Ashamed, Not 'Modest'

From the Guardian via AlterNet:

Now that the warm weather is here, everyone is happily boxing away sweaters and breaking out their summer clothes. But as students across the country are bringing out their t-shirts and dresses, school administrators are ramping up their efforts to quash cleavage and "risqué" outfits.

According to educators and even some parents, young women's outfits – their bodies, really – are too distracting for men to be expected to comport themselves with dignity and respect. It's the season of the dress code - so instead of teaching girls math or literature, schools are enforcing arbitrary and sexist rules that teach them to be ashamed of their bodies.

More here.

As a once and future educator, I don't believe in dress codes.  Well, okay, I think students should wear clothes to school, and maybe that such clothing shouldn't be consciously intended to disrupt academic proceedings, you know, like maybe a suit of armor or a gorilla costume.  Otherwise, wear whatever you want.  Why not?  For that matter, we live in a culture so hellbent on robbing all individuals of their personal creativity that the way we adorn ourselves has, by default, ended up being pretty much the only means of creative self-expression available to the vast majority of the population.  It is a crime to quash this profoundly important and necessary manifestation of the human spirit.  There are no good reasons for doing so.  School uniforms are even worse.

And, oh yeah, it turns out that school dress codes are over-the-top sexist, too.  Click through to the essay to get the full analysis on this, but I was shocked to realize that embracing the notion that boys are "distracted" by the clothing some girls wear to school is tantamount to teaching kids that women wearing short skirts are "asking for it."  We ought to be teaching boys to treat women with respect, certainly not coddling them and instilling the message that women's clothing makes men do bad things.

Man, revisiting the "logic" of public schools is leaving a bad taste in my mouth and reminding me of why I got out of the business ten years ago.  Serenity now, serenity now, serenity now...