— WRITTEN BY CHEYANNE MUMPHREY AND RACHEL DEXTER
We are females and we have the freedom of choice just as much as the next person.
Which means: yes, I can wear my v-neck shirt, yes, I can wear my cute high-waisted shorts and yes, I can wear that beautiful summer dress that barely goes an inch above my knee.
We aren’t saying that it’s acceptable to be barely clothed and we also aren’t saying that you shouldn’t show any skin. What we are saying is that if there needs to be a dress code, it needs to be a fair one.
On the Internet a quote has been circulating: “When you interrupt a girl’s school day to force her to change clothes or send her home because her shorts are too short or her bra straps are visible, you are telling her that making sure boys have a ‘distraction free’ learning environment is more important than her education. Instead of shaming girls for their bodies, teach boys that girls are not sexual objects.”
In schools throughout the country and even abroad, girls have been shamed for what they wear. This is the norm for many schools across the United States. Stories of girls wearing completely modest and appropriate outfits being sent home for allegedly breaking dress code are becoming more common.
They are repeatedly sent home or forced to wear “shame suits.” Anything really that removes them from their learning environment, and all because what they are wearing is distracting. But distracting to whom exactly?
We’re sorry, are muscle tees not considered distracting too?
Schools are the ones claiming girls’ outfit choices are distractions for boys — not the boys. Thus, why are girls really being sent home? Is it an attempt to control young girls and teach them a lesson in modesty? Is this about schools wanting to teach more than their academic standards allow?
Many schools claim that if a bra strap is showing or a pair of shorts are shorter than where your fingertips fall, then boys will be distracted and not able to focus in class. But even more absurd than that is not only are shorts and tank tops banned at many schools, but so are leggings, yoga pants and even maxi skirts. This is not a call for girls to start accepting these rules or to start wearing something different. This is a call for schools to change their dress codes and to give guys some credit in the fact that they can focus even if their classmate’s bra strap is visible. If guys in college can focus with absolutely no dress code, then high schoolers can too.
Have you considered that there may be girls who can only afford the clothes they have? We’re not saying that as a copout for girls around the country to use freely, but consider what this new “dress code” is doing. Along with punishing girls for their outfit choices or sense of fashion, this dress code is policing girls and teaching them to cater to guys.
If anything boys should be just as upset at this dress code because it portrays them as less mature than they actually are. So boys and girls unite and stand up to what should not be an issue in the first place.
And girls — wear whatever you want.
Your Opinion Editors
About A Pen & A Dress
A Pen & A Dress is a column by Cheyanne Mumphrey (and often features Rachel Dexter). Created in December 2015, A Pen & A Dress started publishing in The Lumberjack. Mumphrey's goal is to strike conversation about issues women face on a day-to-day basis and challenge the social norms for females across the globe.