OPINION: Dress Code. Whose Fault is it?

By Maggie Belenky
Holy Innocents Episcopal School

maggie.jpgIt was Thursday about a year ago when we were in middle school and heard the upper school girls were held back in chapel. They found out that they were being punished for the boys actions. At my school, Holy Innocents Episcopal School, the stairs of our new STEM building are steep and allowed visibility, and the boys could see up our skirts while we walked to class.

The girls could not let this incident go. A petition was started by two junior girls. It gained over 1,000 signatures within hours. There were signatures by students, parents and even many teachers. The amount of drive behind the issue was inspiring. The school overlooked the petition and continued to put the plan in action. Although the administration has our best interests at heart, they missed the mark on this issue.

The dress code policy — that girls must wear skorts instead skirts — has consequences for the victims and not the attackers. This policy is teaching girls that they will be punished for something that the boys did. The boys are being taught that they can get away with sexual harassment.  The boys will never learn if they aren’t punished for their actions. The main problem is they still don’t know what they did wrong.

This is not an issue limited to my school. Livi Lesch a rising senior at Wando High School in South Carolina, said her school’s policy has similar sexist restrictions. “You can’t wear spaghetti straps, it has to be two fingers for your straps on your shoulders. Sometimes your shoulders can’t show at all, it just depends on your teacher. With your shorts they have to be longer than your fingertips.  They have a yellow shirt that you have to put on and it’s very embarrassing.” “I’ve never seen any of the boys have to wear them.”

Across the nation, women have finally taken a step in the right direction in addressing sexual harassment. According to an article published in Time magazine on March 8, 2018, “the groundbreaking anti-sexual assault and women’s empowerment movements #MeToo and Time’s Up upended the public conversation about women’s issues around the world, and elevated the global consciousness surrounding the obstacles women encounter in their daily lives, both personal and professional.”

The #MeToo movement brought women together from around country and united them. It inspired women to stand up to the sexual harassment going on.

Though the dress code case at my school is less severe than the harassment happening in Hollywood, it is still a key issue. I do not believe female students should be forced to wear skorts. If a student chooses to wear a skort, that is fine, but there needs to be a choice. Women should not ever have to feel that it is there fault.

Women across the nation have been empowered to stand up against sexual harassment, but in high school, we are still taught to take the fall for what the boys have done.


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