Dress code has been an issue that plagues young girls since the beginning of their school careers.
Being a semi-recent high school graduate, I got first-hand experience of what it’s like being picked apart for what I chose to wear. Every day brought on the fear of being sent to in school suspension, or being told to go home and risk the chance of class simply because what I wore did not meet the school’s regulated dress code.
Whether I wore a tank top or my dress was an inch too short, each day felt like a battle. However, I never understood why what I wore was an issue. Would the small hole in my jeans really drive someone into a sex-crazed mania?
Granted, school is a place for learning and there is a time and a place for everything, but the way school districts go about enforcing their policies are obscene. A young girl should never be told that they cannot wear a certain outfit because it will “distract their male counterparts.”
Cue Erykah Badu, an American singer-songwriter that hails from Dallas.
Badu, a mother of two daughters, has been very candid about human rights through the use of her music and public appearances. However, a few weeks ago, Badu took to Twitter to discuss her stance on school girls and uniforms in wake of an article that reported a New Zealand school mandating their female students to wear knee length skirts.
“There was an article ruling that high school girls lower their skirts so male teachers are not distracted. I agreed because I am aware we live in a sex driven society,” she tweeted.
“It is everyone’s, male and female’s responsibility to protect young ladies.” She continued, “One way to protect youth is to remind them we are sexual in nature and as they grow and develop it is natural to attract men.”
“Men automatically are attracted to women of child bearing age,” she tweeted, adding the “nature” of men is to be attracted to young women in skirts.
The stigma that women are asking men to come onto them due to what they are wearing poses the idea that men are incapable of controlling their urges and tendencies. Telling young girls that they must cover up in order to protect themselves portrays the message that girls cannot be themselves and must change in order to satisfy the comfort of men.
Badu’s comments are one of many ways an individual can victim-shame, the act of putting the blame on a victim instead of the perpetrator.
Instead, society should look at the true instigators.
Why are men not punished for looking at women inappropriately? Girls go to school to learn, not to have their teachers or fellow peers fantasize about them.
School girls around the world have begun protesting their rights as female students, including the “I Am Not a Distraction” initiative. Here, girls are given a platform to speak openly about the struggles we face on a day-to-day basis. However, these struggles shouldn’t just stop here.
Boys are constantly faced with being criticized for acts they most likely aren’t committing. Not all boys are sex-crazed leviathans that cannot control their urges and not all girls go to school in order to be seen as a sexual being.
As the fight for dress code rights continues, we have to realize that it is not a girls fault for being looked at.
Maybe we should shame the inappropriate males that look at “child bearing women,” whose age can be as young as 11. Maybe we should criticize the school districts that hire and defend men that picture their student sexually, and support the girls who have their confidence compromised.
Maybe we should teach boys how to respect women.