Sexist dress code inhibits free expression

Dress code proves to be an obsolete policy as it limits free expression and unjustly targets and objectifies girls.

Protests have occurred around Walnut and students are posting about how the simple-minded dress code policy is wrong. Opening a computer to join a class versus driving to school to sit in a classroom are two very different things, especially when it comes to clothing. During the COVID-19 pandemic, schools have transitioned to virtual learning, leaving the dress code policy irrelevant, but because school is in-person now, staff have been dress coding students way more than needed. Students, including myself, find this policy to be very ignorant.

As a female student, I think that the dress code policy is purely stupid. From a young age, we have been told that showing our body is inappropriate. This teaches us women that we should be the ones to cover up and limit our freedom of expression instead of educating men to be respectful. Being able to choose what you want to wear allows students to be unique and express themselves from others in a stylistic way instead of through words. Students are always told to be themselves, but when being themselves includes what they wear, dress code limits this freedom of expression through their style and what they want to wear. Elementary and middle schools did not even allow students to wear tops that showed their shoulders since it was deemed to be distracting. Because tweens and children usually just wear clothes their parents buy, and they have not gotten to explore their fashion choices, there is less conflict with the dress code in younger grades. However, in high school, the dress code policy is heavily implemented leaving many students objecting. The dress code is sexist and objectifying to women.

Not only is the dress code targeted toward women, male students are rarely, if ever, dress coded. If someone were to list things that a student could get dress coded for, things like a shirt being “too revealing” or their shorts being “too short” are things that come up—all things that only apply to females. Not only this, but when a male student sags his jeans low enough for everyone to see his boxers and a tank top that shows his nipples, teachers suddenly have nothing to say about it. In fact, some teachers disagree with the dress code and do not enforce it in their class for this reason.

I have also realized that certain teachers tend to pick and choose who they dress code. If it is a student they dislike or is known as a “bad” kid, they tend to get dress-coded more opposed to those who achieve good grades and volunteer in class.

Now the question we must ask is: Why is dress code a thing to begin with? Faculty members say that it is to make sure no one’s clothing distracts students from learning. Though this is understandable, does an inch of belly showing or sandals really distract one’s learning environment? Students say no. I feel as though the only acceptable dress code policy are things that pose a safety hazard like super sharp spikes. Staff could also argue that without the dress code policy, things like rape or slut-shaming could happen. Parents of traditional mindsets believe that women who dress in a way that shows their skin are “asking for something to happen to them.” Even though adults may argue that this situation may happen, women should not have to hide their expression to prevent themselves from getting raped. We should focus on targeting how rape and slut-shaming are a product of men trying to inhibit the expression and independence of women.

There are more negatives than positives about the dress code policy. The policy limits freedom of self-expression, is targeted toward women and is pointless. Student safety could be the only potential upside of the dress code policy. The dress code policy is sexist, teaches women that they are the ones who should cover up instead of having men respect women and is overall unnecessary.

By Freda Lei, Design editor-in-chief
Photo courtesy of Pixabay