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School Dress Codes And Their Oppressive Effects On Young Women

644 words - 3 pages

matter how much of herself she covers up—she’ll still be faulted for her

inappropriate behavior.

In March of 2014 it was rumored that Haven Middle School in Evanston,

Illinois had banned tight fitting pants including legging and skinny jeans. The new

rule in the schools dress code sparked an onslaught of student protest and media

attention. Students and parents alike were frustrated with the ban on the popular

pants as they felt that the ban was targeted directly at female students and not

males. However, Melissa Burda, spokesperson for Haven’s School District 65 made a

public statement that,

Rumors that the school banned leggings and skinny jeans are not the truth.

Students at the school are allowed to wear leggings, yoga pants, and skinny

jeans. However, if leggings are worn, we ask that the shirt, short skirt, or

whatever they have on top must be fingertip length (Fisher, 2014).

Regardless of the ...view middle of the document...

Students of Evanston’s Haven Middle School are equally troubled by the issue that
seems to be supporting both sexism and gender inequality and are adamantly
protesting the ban on fitted pants as well. “Not being able to wear leggings because
it’s ‘too distracting for boys’ is giving us the impression we should be guilty for what
guys do,” Hasty said in an e-mail. “We just want to be comfortable!” Said Sophie
Hastie, a seventh grader at the school, in an email to The Evanston Review. Not only
are these bans on certain clothing items deemed “revealing” sexist, but there also
appears to be an inconsistent manner in which they are enforced. Another seventh
grade student at Haven Middle School in Evanston, Lucy Shapiro, recounted that she
had her first encounter with the inconsistent enforcement of the school’s dress
policy when her friend and her were both wearing the same pair of athletic shorts.
The pair were approached by a faculty member in a hallway, but only Lucy was told
that her clothing was inappropriate. When the thirteen-year-old girl inquired why
she was reprimanded for her clothing choice, but not her friend, the staff member
responded that she had “a different body type” than her friend (Fisher, 2014).
The expectation that young women in schools need to cover their bodies in

order to both “respect themselves” and avoid creating a distraction for their male

classmates is an unfair and gender biased one. While dress codes do help to create a

more professional image of uniformity as well as discourage gang behavior, they do

more harm than good. The implications that school dress codes carry damages a

growing young woman’s perception of her own body by treating it as a sexual threat

and ultimately takes the blame off of the women for the actions of their equally

impressionable young male counterparts (Kuhn, 1996). If America wants to rid itself

of the rape culture deeply ingrained in society today, the country needs to start by

desexualizing women’s bodies and educating its youth on issues around sexuality

and sexualization rather than trying to literally “cover up” the problem and put the


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