"Are you really going to school dressed like that!" "No responsible mother will ever allow her girl wear such a short dress" Sound quite familiar? I am quite sure of you hearing these lines at least once in your life. These days we often tend to police girls' bodies, don't we? School dress codes have become the hot talk of the nation, which is why we are bound to keep eye on dress codes along with lots of other reasons.
Bans and restrictions on dress codes started when a middle school in New Jersey banned strapless dresses to school dance. With this more schools came forward putting restrictions on various clothing. Some bans are only limited to dance attires, while have set targets on daily wear as well, example low-cut tops. Majority of bans are made targeting the girls' clothing, where most are set to prevent or control "distraction" from studies (especially of boys).
Over exposed young bodies can give rise to wrong intentions. With society has set parameters of competition and fetish for young age girls. They often end up self-objectify themselves and consider them a sexual object or a thing. The list of root problems starts with obsession of appearance and good looks including depression, eating disorders, and low self-worth. Who can see their daughter struggling from these fads?
Even the high hopes made with dress codes are fading. A dress code could have been helpful, if instead of enforcing restrictions on tight pants and skirt-length, we would have considered more about girls' their emotions, comfort, budding sexuality and thoughts of self image.
Unfortunately, most of these restrictions are introduced with distracted male students in mind, and casting innocent girls as inborn sexual threats that needs to be tamed. In fact, when seen on wider graph, schools introducing dress restrictions are themselves one of the biggest reasons behind the very problem: Objectification of girls. With telling her what to wear and what not, you are actually controlling her body. When you do so, even if it's for her good you dominate her rights and cease her freedom. You make her realize that she is not the owner of her own body.
Do you find the girl's dress inappropriate? If the girl's body is appropriate, as it distracts boys. Is it? "Because her body distracts boys, cover it up!" This is how you contextualize her body. She is now bound to exist through male gaze and live on conditions of men.
What do you think that a girl wishes to wear when preparing herself for school? They are not brainless or idiots. People, who find it "distracting" is mostly stuck to things, like "a girl will instantly turn on boys wearing such attire?" Now who is the actual culprit behind all the issue? Who is sexualizing, the school studying girl or the learned people of the society?
Let's talk about those weak minded distracted young boys? How do you learn about their distraction? Where do they come from? Can barring some outfits from school help these boys objectify and identify "inappropriate" women and girls. Girls violating dress codes are directly violating rules, and those violating rules are bad. So, in male prospective, bad girls can be sexy and desirable, but respect is not what they deserve (even from girls).
This "distraction" standard for a dress code sets up a model in which the default student we are concerned about - the student whose learning we want to ensure is protected - is male. It presumes that female students are a distraction to male students' learning, and therefore it's young women's actions that must be policed.
"The problem is that girls are forced to think, act, and dress with guys in mind, lest we provoke his penis into rising. If we didn't instill the idea that it's okay to think every woman is for his judging and viewing and taking, then clothing wouldn't be such an issue. Nurture can override nature."
The fact is undeniable, where there is no respect, objectification becomes easy. In her book associated with self-objectification, writer Caroline Heldman defines how sexually objectified females are dehumanized. They are often viewed "less competent", who worth only empathy from both women and men. Dehumanized women are more likely to get mistreated. They are made feel inadequate and when objectification is linked with poor self-image, the cycle begins to feed itself. Such people, who objectified and treated as of less importance, begin to underestimate themselves and start self- objectifying.
Implementing dressing solution is more a temporary solution to problem, or even weaker one, but in any ways it do boost other socially ingrained problems to raise their head such as rape culture and general misogyny. As long as a women or girl faces thing like objectification and considered a sexual tool, no matter how dressed she is, she will always be punished to be a woman. She'll be faulted for everything, for every taken step and behavior.
Is it fair to expect a young girl understand the complications and meaning of implications on her body? Implications, which are basically made by so-called taught people that are ever-ready to punish a little soul for being naive and knowing nothing. One should empower a girl, not push her deeper into the hole of complications with respect to her body.
It is very sad to see that in this world, girls and women are always reminded that they have nothing of their own. They do not have mind of their own, neither their body, nor they have power.
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