March 29, 2014
School dress codes are nothing new, but there’s been a bit of controversy at an Illinois school over their ban on leggings and tight pants, put in place because this type of clothing “distracts the boys”. Parents and students alike are outraged, and for good reason, over the fact that rather than boys being educated to respect women’s bodies, girls are being penalized for what they wear. The school responded to complaints saying that the dress code hadn’t changed, and that in general shorts, skirts, dresses, or shirts, when worn with leggings should be closer to the knee than the hip. So, basically, make sure to cover up parts of your body that are already covered up because your male classmates may be pervs. I admit that when I wear yoga pants and leggings I get my ass checked out more than if I was wearing sweats. Guess what? That’s not my fault – it’s the guys who check me out who are responsible for their actions. My clothing covers my body, it covers my undergarments properly, it's not see-through, and cannot be described as ill-fitting. I understand school dress codes are important to maintain a sense of decorum, but this ban on leggings and yoga pants is a bit extreme. A letter written to the school from Kevin and Juliet Bond best sums up the problem with this type of dress code:
[The]policy clearly shifts the blame for boy's behavior or lack of academic concentration, directly onto the girls. We are frankly shocked at this antiquated and warped message that is being sent to the kids. Under no circumstances should girls be told that their clothing is responsible for boy's bad behaviors. This kind of message lands itself squarely on a continuum that blames girls and women for assault by men. It also sends the message to boys that their behaviours are excusable, or understandable given what the girls are wearing. And if the sight of a girl's leg is too much for boys at Haven to handle, then your school has a much bigger problem to deal with. We really hope that you will consider the impact of these policies and how they contribute to rape culture. Girls should be able to feel safe and unashamed about what they wear. And boys need to be corrected and taught when they harass girls.Since there is still confusion over the policy, school officials will be meeting to review the dress code and make it more consistent, hopefully revamping it into one that doesn’t teach victim blaming to young impressionable minds.