The dress code is sexist and perpetuates double standards

A female student at AISV was dress coded for wearing this outfit on a warm autumn day.

As a female student, I have had my fair share of dress code violations. My first incident was when I was twelve-years-old; it was 30℃ on a June day and I was wearing shorts. I was dress coded and told to change into leggings. Consequently, I started sweating profusely for my last two classes and thus, listening in those classes was nearly impossible. If the dress code is implemented and enforced in almost all countries and schools to support students on their endeavor to complete an education, why does it hinder female students and perpetuate double standards instead?

The majority of dress restrictions are disproportionately targeted at female students. In most schools, students are not allowed to wear spaghetti straps, low cut blouses or shirts, short shorts or skirts, bare midriffs, visible undergarments, and clothing with offensive language. It seems that over one-half of these restrictions一spaghetti straps, low cut blouses or shirts, short shorts or skirts, bare midriffs, and visible undergarments一 are targeted at female students. While these restrictions apply to both male and female students, what store is selling the majority of the aforementioned clothing items to teenage boys? Additionally, what percentage of teenage boys are wearing these clothing items?

The enforcement of a female-targeted dress code suggests that there are negative consequences for wearing these clothes that impact female students and the greater community. Many questions arise when students are disciplined for not following dress restrictions. If female students do not follow dress restrictions, will they distract their male counterparts? If they do not follow dress restrictions, are they responsible for others’ unwanted behaviors towards them? The instillment of these ideas in young female students is dangerous as it perpetuates the notion that females are responsible for men’s behaviors, and that men are not accountable for unwanted behaviours toward women. 

Limiting the scope of dress codes to AISV, proponents of a dress code at AISV argue in the handbook that it should be enforced in order to respect the “multi-age and multicultural learning environment of our school.” However, this has not been reflected when seeking to protect the entire school community from hateful actions. In October, the AISV Diversity Club announced a “Coming Out Day” in which students were asked to wear colorful clothing to support the LGBTQIA+ community. However, unfortunately, a multitude of students came to school wearing black in order to protest the identities of many LGBTQIA+ students. When this occurred, the students were not dress coded, instead, they were allowed to wear the clothes一which signified their disdain for a group of students一 all day. Thus suggesting that the dress code is not implemented to create a safe space for students, instead, it is a manifestation of sexist ideologies that pervade our society.

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