Today’s post is inspired by an article my friend JL posted on Facebook this morning about girl’s school dress codes. When i was in junior high school i was all limbs, particularly legs. The school dress code dictated that your skirt had to be longer than your middle finger when standing with your hands by your side. Mine weren’t. Mainly because I would grow a quarter of an inch between eating breakfast and getting on the bus. My skirt probably started out long enough, but by lunch time it wasn’t. So I got pulled out of science class one day to go up to the office for an official measurement. It was degrading. And it was explained to me that it was distracting, which I knew already. That’s why I was wearing it. To distract. I was being denied my right to manipulate and control the fragile male adolescent. Plus I was being told I couldn’t do something that I wanted to do and I hate that.
As an adult I appreciate the experience on a much deeper level. This is the kind of attitude that keeps women in burkas and out of schools altogether. I’m not tying to get on an illogical slippery slope where all my rights are on the verge of being taken away because girls are not able to show cleavage at the prom. But this is indicative of an under current in our society. Who has responsibility for bad behavior? Why is all the responsibility placed on women to eliminate opportunities for bad behavior? Why are we not teaching young men to respect women? Why do we assume men are not capable of respecting women? We can’t give men control of the entire world, and then give them a free pass when a woman is wearing a strapless dress. It’s insulting to men and to women.
What would happen if we began to see women’s bodies as works of art, beautiful curves and lines that are appreciated for their form and function. This is not to take away from the person as a whole, but to change our attitude about how we see women. Women are beautiful. It’s fine to appreciate that. If its distracting it should be up to you to get focused.
Before you respond….I know these are generalizations about men and women. There are men and women who already respect each other and are not only responsible, but are teaching their children to be responsible. This is about the need for a cultural shift, a recognition that these policies reinforce an outdated and unhealthy attitude. And if you walk away with one thought let it be this…we are all better off when we treat each other with responsibility and respect. Women are better off and men are better off.