by Ariana Habibi
A PSA for all female students:
With spring coming soon, it is only natural to want to shed the heavy winter layers and opt for clothing more suitable for the warmer weather. Even so, please do not forget that this is a school and the FCPS dress code must continue to be adhered to, regardless of how high the temperature may climb. Please ensure that your shorts are fingertip length, your shoulders modestly covered, and that your bra straps remain unseen. After all, we shouldn’t distract from the learning environment, right?
It is no secret that our society is sexist. It is no secret that there are certain standards that apply to women but not their male counterparts. It is no secret that there are challenges women of all ages are likely to experience on a daily basis but men are unlikely to ever encounter throughout their lives.
How do we resolve this sexism and inequality? Feminism.
Feminism is the idea that we should be treated equally as humans, regardless of gender or sexuality. It means that men need to respect women and that women need to respect men. It is not the belief that women are superior to men, nor does it blame all men for the problems of society. It does, however, advocate complete gender equality.
It is not a dirty word, but people are afraid of the term “feminist” and are afraid to align themselves with the movement. Not because there is something inherently oppressive about it, but because they refuse to acknowledge that women and their rights lie far behind the curve in terms of equality. Besides, it is understandable, especially as a high schooler, to want to be liked. You want to be accepted by your friend group and peers, so you are unlikely to start exposing views that would get you branded as a “feminazi”.
Still, feminism is a simple concept: if you believe in gender equality you are a feminist.
Furthermore, the very usage of “feminazi” exemplifies why the movement is necessary. A portmanteau of “feminism” and “Nazi,” it equivocates a movement dedicated to female equality to a systematic annihilation of a religious people. Clearly a woman wanting equality and the Nazi regime are not at all similar, and equivocating them is offensive. It is an insult used to shut women up when they are discussing issues they care about. By saying this, people refuse to believe that inequality and sexism exist, and rather than address the issues, they choose to accuse them of being irritable and uptight. This is one of the many gender-based double standards that exists today, which perpetuates outspoken women as “bitchy” and men as “strong-willed”.
Another double standard? The dress code.
For all of us underclassmen, the administration recently came through the gym periods to reiterate the SR&R dress-code policies. Seeing as we are so close to warmer temperatures, the timing was likely based on the imminent rush of girls wearing shorts and tank tops. Actually, the entire presentation was a thinly-veiled attempt to tell girls to not wear clothing items that could distract others (read: boys) from learning.
According to the FCPS SR&R dress code policies, clothing should not be “see-through or sexually provocative.” Examples of such prohibited clothing include, but are not limited to “low-cut necklines that show cleavage, tube tops, halter tops, backless blouses or blouses with only ties in the back.” In fact, all clothing that “interferes with or disrupts the educational environment” is considered unacceptable and inappropriate. Yet the county believes that it is the clothing itself and the girls wearing it that takes from the learning environment, rather than the students (again, read: boys) who make rude and disruptive comments on it.
Also this dress code, allegedly meant to preserve the professionalism of the academic environment, is doing more harm than good for female students.
By forcing young women to cover up their bodies, you are telling them that their bodies, and consequently themselves, are bad. You tell them that their bodies are something to be hidden and feel guilty about and make them feel embarrassed and ashamed of who they are. By sending a girl home because she violates dress code is saying that her education is less important than her physical appearance.
Likewise, it assumes that teenage boys cannot control themselves to see a few inches of a girl’s thigh. That logic is demeaning to boys, who are perfectly capable of simultaneously learning and being around girls regardless of what they’re wearing. Dress codes also enforce the concept that girls should be taught to modify their behavior to avoid tempting boys. Rather, we should concentrate on teaching boys to avoid leering, shaming, and inappropriately touching (read: harassing and assaulting) girls.
Besides, if you’re uncomfortable because of a teenage girl’s shorts, you are the problem.