Dress Code Unfairly Targets Female Students

Nicole Johnson, Copy Editor

When people think of spring, they usually think of warmer weather, longer days and nearing the end of the school year. However, for public school students, spring can be considered the season of dress code regulation.

School dress codes have always been made to target opposite behaviors in male and female students. Codes directed towards boys usually ban sagging pants and shirts with inappropriate messages. Banning behavior typically associated with gang members should be the norm for all schools.

The dress code regulations for girls, however, seem to be less focused on the girls themselves and more focused on their male classmates.  Wake County dress code bans articles of clothing that have small or no straps, and that are “excessively short or tight.” When these regulations are applied and enforced in school they can pretty much be considered a ban on female shoulders and legs.

According to Wake County’s website, the reason for these dress code policies is “to help keep our students focused on learning without distractions.” This means that because male students may find parts of the female body such as shoulders “distracting,” girls cannot wear tank tops or strapless dresses, regardless of how tasteful they may be. It also implies that boys are so unable to control themselves and that their inappropriate actions should be blamed on how girls are dressed instead of their own poor manners.

Not only are dress codes more restricting on female students, they are more heavily enforced. If a boy is seen walking around with his pants too low, a teacher will just yell “pull your pants up” at him in passing. Whether or not those pants stay up is usually never followed up on.

For girls, however, a dress code violation of say, a shirt with spaghetti straps, warrants a “Young lady, where is your jacket?” from a teacher or administrator. If the student does not have a jacket, then she will have to go home and get one, or else she will be written up. This means that a girl’s shoulders are more of a hindrance to learning than a boy’s exposed undergarments.

School dress codes and their enforcement are extremely dangerous for society. From the age they enter school, girls are told that they need to act and dress in a certain way so to not distract their classmates and teachers. They are made to think that boys will not do well in school because seeing female skin will cause such a reaction that they cannot function as normal human beings. Then when they leave school they are told that this kind of reaction is something to be desired, that every girl should want boys to be attracted to her.

This paradoxical cycle needs to stop. Teaching children and teenagers that the way a girl dresses is responsible for how a boy acts leads these children and teenagers to become adults in a society where women are already made to think that getting catcalled on the street, harassed by men at work or even raped is their fault because “they were asking for it.” Unless society steps up and makes a change concerning how women are treated, decades of hard work by women everywhere to bring the world from a place where women are property, to a place where they are strong leaders, could be reversed.