The Issues of Dress Codes in Public Schools and Rape Culture

Public schools impose dress codes specific to females that are not only restrictive but also promote rape culture and punish girls for boys’ reactions to their choices. Rape culture is the idea that women face the constant threat of rape, molestation, and attack every day, and are then blamed for their attacker’s actions. This last part is known as victim-blaming, which is demeaning, shaming, and cruelr Victim-blaming is the reason why dress codes are more than just an inconvenience and are detrimental to girls. Rape culture can also be found outside of schools. Jokes about rape, claiming a woman is lying about being raped, and even the silence victims keep for fear ofjudgement and disbelief are just a few examples of everyday rape culture that few people recognize School dress codes only enforce this silent subculture that exists within ours like an invisible parasite.

From the first moment a girl is put in school, a strict dress code is enforced upon her and she is exposed to this rape culturer School officials claim the dress code is in place to create a learning environment, While it is important to keep schools in a semi-professional setting, the dress code is not what creates that feeling, Girls as young as ten are being sent home because their shorts are too short or their shoulders are showing. As they grow up, they learn not to wear clothes that are too ‘revealing‘, or they will be sent home or forced to change. On particularly hot days, this dress change can cause discomfort that takes away from learning and may even go so far as to result in dizziness, fainting, or heat sickness, By the time a girl has grown to be a woman, she believes that a man’s reaction to whatever she chooses to do with her own body is her fault.

It starts innocently enough with clothing restrictions, and then escalates to sexual harassment such as cat-calling or inappropriate touching, and escalating to rape. For twelve or more years, girls are forced into a school system that shames them for their choices, preparing them to be ashamed of inappropriate behavior towards them, Every time a girl is pulled out of class to change or be sent home, the school is saying that boys are more entitled to distraction-free education than girls are to education at all. Imagine a 4th grade girl, She’s nine years old and enjoying her time playing during recess with her friends. It‘s almost summer, and the day is warm. She happened to put on long pants that morning, and she’s beginning to get uncomfortably hot under the blaze of the sun.

Trying to keep cool, she rolls up her pants, not caring if it makes her look goofy. She’s young and unconcerned about anything other than being comfortable and having fun, While she continues to play, a teacher comes by and tells her to put her pants back down, Immediately, the little girl is confused and ashamed, though she doesn’t know why She‘s lived with these rules for years and she still doesn’t understand why she can‘t wear the summer clothes her mom bought for her while at schoolt Looking around, she sees boys wearing shorts, feeling even more confused Why can they wear shorts and she can’t? This was a real occurrence. It happened to me, seven years ago. It made a big impact on my life, and it’s affecting me even still. I‘m still being told to put on a jacket, still afraid to wear the clothes my parents spent money on because I might get detention.

I’ve never gotten into trouble for anything, never had detention, and I worry constantly about a blemish on my record, Hot days at school when I’m trying to not be too hot are days where I am constantly worrying, distracted from my school-work and my natural anxiety disorder worsens. Why do shorts require the same disciplinary action as cheating or missing too many classes? Both affect learning and knowledge, while shorts are pieces of clothing that a girl may choose to wear on hot days, If a girl can be trained to constantly worry about being sent to detention for clothes, isn’t it reasonable to assume that boys can be trained to respect a girl’s body? Everyone wears clothes, and everyone chooses to wear the clothes that make them comfortable, Not allowing certain clothes is restrictive, and when those clothes are ‘revealing’ and specific to women, it even promotes rape-culture and the idea that rape and other attacks on women are the fault of the woman.

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