Getting “Distracted” by the Wrong Things

Almost all schools have a dress code which defines what students can and can’t wear. Unfortunately, a major part of society uses these dress codes to target teen girls by telling them their clothes are a distraction to boys.  It’s very common for a girl in high school or even middle school to be sent up to the principal’s office because her outfit is deemed inappropriate and too distracting for male teachers and students. Senior Sarahi Valencia said, “Girls are not a distraction, we can’t control a man who has dirty thoughts.”

During my sophomore year of high school (I’m a senior), my friend Valerie Aguayo was told her dress was too short as soon as she walked in the classroom. It was a hot and sunny day and a majority of other girls were also wearing dresses or an outfit that was more comfortable and loose on that day. Aguayo stands 5’9”, and apparently her long legs immediately made her dress inappropriate.  She said it “sucked” to have to change.

Gloria Chaidez, an assistant principal said, “School’s a place for learning and a part of what we teach the students is social behavior. We teach both our female and male student body that they can dress however they want, but in school they must follow the rules and before they wear something, think if it’s the appropriate clothing for the type of setting that they’re attending; in this case, school.” I asked about the gender of the students that get sent to the office and she told me, “It’s pretty equal actually. Guys are wearing these T-shirts with pictures that have sexual content. That’s not appropriate.” She said “Girls can dress as they want but there are ways to still follow the rules and those ways are acceptable at our school.”

This argument has also been taken to the internet since at other schools, where things are a bit more uncompromising. Recently, I saw a picture on Twitter where a young girl is shown protesting and holding up a sign that read, “Don’t blame the shoulder.” This was a response to the rules of no over-exposing of the shoulder or the bra strap which this girl clearly thought were absurd. Another picture read, “I don’t know how my shoulders are attractive.” It makes a lot of sense because it’s hard to imagine a shoulder being sexually distracting or distracting at all. I don’t think these girls would be happy wearing sleeved shirts if it’s 90 degrees outside. Senior Rocio Becerra said, “We should be able to dress and express ourselves how we want, but there is always some people who take this to a whole different level, there should be a limit, but shoulders should not be distracting to male students, that’s ridiculous.”

In a YouTube video titled, “Dress Code Haul” Anna Russett sarcastically explains what girls should wear to not distract boys while in school. She uses 3XL sized shirts as she says, “This will cover you up because remember, you don’t want to distract anyone’s learning and you want to try to look as less provocative as you can.” She also said, “For the summer you can use these black leggings and then these sport shorts over them. I hate how this looks but I don’t want to distract any boys so I’ll have to wear this because if I wear something ‘inappropriate’ it’s entirely my fault that no one gets anything done.” And then on tumblr, there was a post that was re-blogged from user “melsuxxx” more than 200,000 times which read, “She could run around naked, that doesn’t excuse rape.” This post is most likely popular due to its relevance that despite a woman’s body showing too much or too little skin, they’re no one’s property and the idea that girls are somehow to blame because of how they dress should stop being passed on.

Among the many things I read was an article on a Canadian teen, Lindsey Stockerr, who says she was recently admonished for not following her school dress code. She described the experience as embarrassing as she says school officials went into her classroom and told her she had to change because her shorts were too short. When she refused to do so, they shook their heads. To some, this may not seem like a reason to even write an article about, but keep in mind many other students are in that class staring and this does not in any way seem like a comfortable position to be in, especially for a teen. In response to this dilemma she went on to twitter to post a paper that read, “Don’t humiliate her because she is wearing shorts. It’s hot outside. Instead of shaming girls for their bodies, teach boys that girls are not sexual objects.”

I think body shaming these girls is very wrong. It shows that people who do this would also agree that it’s a girl’s fault if she is disrespected, and that if she is dressed a certain way regardless of whether she’s the only person to blame if something like rape or harassment were to happen. It also would be supposed that this person agrees that dress codes are all about sex. This teaches males that it is not their fault if they have a dirty thought and that it is always the women’s fault. It encourages the idea that if a woman was showing “too much skin”; she was asking for it. And to other girls it’s telling them that ‘boys will be boys’ and it supports male supremacy. Some can argue that there are different ways to dress in the case of hot weather, but even the way a person dresses is in no way anyone else’s business. How a person chooses to dress a lot of the times does not say anything about their dignity or self-respect. This isn’t just limited to hot weather and everyone should be educated on the topic.