Clothing Wars Round 2 How Puritanical Mindsets Reinforce Male Ownership of Women’s Bodies

    Current Trends by Natasha Sapp

It seems where one school goes the others will follow; first it was Florida debating and earnestly trying to institute a dress code for parents to class them up a little as they dropped off their children, attended school functions and saw to the obligatory parent teacher conference. Then there was Utah shining a glaring spotlight on 1950’s, old fuddy-duddy, perhaps even perverted old man interpretations of current school dress codes, more than airbrushing tattoos, lifting ever plunging neck lines but waging war against sleeveless blouses, tank, workout tops worn in the height of summer heat by abysmally retouching yearbook photos. Now North Carolina has joined the fray sending home a student on the last day of school for a dress/skirt that was quote, half an inch too short who made headlines when mom decided on an unusual defense for her daughter planning to wear the banned outfit to her graduation. Again it’s not that a school, that Central Davidson High School has a dress code, that their dress code is arcane, though all appearances say it is, it isn’t that they deigned to enforce their dress policy even on the final day of class; it once more comes down to how they deliberately chose to go about said enforcement. It remains that once again we have students testifying they wore their banned clothing choice multiple times during the year, adding to the perception the action was needlessly arbitrary and taken by faculty with the strictest interpretation of the code stems from them waiting until two hours were left in the school day to tell her she had to change her clothes. Then when she returned to school after complying with the request was told she would be given a detention therefore left campus. This particular school seems to have more problems than most; outside the dress, sending another girl home for shorts the month before who had some blunt things to say about who needs education on behavior if not dressing appropriately, there is the comment from a different parent whose child was sent home because the outfit she wore “enhanced her figure too much.” But perhaps the singularly applauding incident that should have all of us asking what the hell is going on in North Carolina involves what happened to a home school student ejected from prom due to the way she dressed, in a standard evening gown type dress, and moved her body was causing dads to ogle her.

http://www.newsy.com/videos/north-carolina-school-s-dress-code-causes-controversy/

 

Like the school in Utah Central Davidson isn’t hyper vigilant about enforcing its dress code because of a spike in teen pregnancy, STD/STI proliferation, complaints, problems with harassment, sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape on school campuses or in surrounding areas. Similarly they don’t face handling students pinching girls’ behinds, female students grabbing, attempting to grab a guy’s crotch, PDA (public displays of affection) so out there two people kissing in the hall look rather like they are trying to swallow each other’s faces, groping so intense it is reminiscent of soft porn, practically undressing each other in the hallway, absent also from the dynamics in North Carolina, students being caught having sex in janitors closets, stairwells, as reported in some places spanning recent years. Otherwise that would be the headline, not the clever way a parent chose to stand up for her daughter proving there was nothing wrong with the dress her child chose to wear to school sending a powerful message about who is ultimately in charge of children and their clothing; parents not arbitrary administrators with obviously too much time on their collective hands.  Further schools and commenters both often trot out the line they are an educational environment, dress codes enacted for a reason, to minimize distractions; however their methodology for dealing with code infractions creates its own distraction and puts the focus far too much on what students are wearing than kids purportedly obsessed with looks, putting on a fashion shown in order to go to class. When teachers, administrators must take away from their fundamental job of educating students under their care, stop, put off teaching the class period’s lesson to measure some girl’s skirt, scrutinize their top to be double sure it meets requirements or face the wrath of their boss, the principal, superintendent; when staff are yanking kids into hallways, stopping them on their way to class, sending them home over a half an inch of cloth, a visible bra strap on a summer shirt in a school most would bet dimes to doughnuts has no or spotty air conditioning. Had she not been wearing a bra the conversation would be how uncouth, slutty she was for trying to avoid a dress infraction. Students, unhappy though they are with adults preoccupation with their clothes simply willing to do their time in class, in school, graduate feelings summed up nicely in this bloggers quote “If you ask me, it’s a bigger distraction to worry about whether or not your principal will agree that your tank top straps are truly three fingers thick and not two and a half.”  Under such conditions you don’t have a learning environment you have a 3 ring circus, a 3 ring circus manufactured by those in power possessing little else to do. Yet what transpired in our Southern school holds a creeper tinge reading the effected student’s Facebook account of how she was addressed regarding her dress code violation, implications how they treated her is routine, “when a teacher comes to you and says grab your crotch and makes you stand there while they measure it that’s what’s wrong about this.” Ok if I’m a parent I don’t want anyone ever saying that to my child, especially my daughter; neither would I, or any parent come to think of it, want someone putting their hands on my child, putting their 2 fingers somewhere between their hip and their knee to measure skirt, shorts length, shoving a ruler, measuring tape in the vicinity of my teen child’s, my young woman’s crotch solely to prove their point and certainly not in full view of other students. These types of situations should be dealt with in a bathroom, nurse’s office, principal’s office, behind closed doors and always having a female staff member present; better still, amend the dress code to the following single line: are they wearing clothes, then they are allowed to come to class period, no objections, not stipulations, no caveats, no exceptions just education.  Not only is there a significant ewww factor screaming totally inappropriate administrative jurisdiction, overwhelming abuse of power from an outsiders stand point, imagine how uncomfortable, even violated a girl, young woman feels being essentially groped by “authority.” At least when Michael Jackson was grabbing his crotch, he was grabbing his own, not making up excuses to watch other people grab theirs.

Worse, when shamed, humiliated students and their parents stand up and fight back here is how we find out what people tasked with maintaining a safe, learning enriched setting are actually doing as opposed to providing the education they are responsible for imparting; bringing us to another point, striking down the assertion the problem doesn’t lie in the dress code, the enforcement by drunk on their own power characterized administrators  but in the daughter, and now her mother’s, blatant disregard for the policy, for the rules is her having worn the same outfit on numerous occasions garnering no reprimand. A decision by administration to send her home a mere 2 hours before school let out for the year vs. arriving in her first class, distancing readers from possibilities it’s the last day of class, she flouted the rules thinking she couldn’t be punished, next to nullifies concepts surrounding she was a chronic problem student repeatedly warned not to wear that dress to school again or that she got away with wearing it up until the last day because teachers have so many charges, bigger rule breakers to confront. The detention they attempted to give her, a senior set to graduate, for being late to her following class adhering to their request, going home to change clothes and returning to school, proves all the more she was on the receiving end of  staff resentment, revenge, bullying, those elevated to positions using it to rid the world of their pet peeves, persons repeatedly let enforce their definition of modesty, religious based morality; though there is no reference to this being a religious, private school, increasing the irreprehensible nature of what went on, public reaction to it. Was she really previously warned about the dress, her parent/guardian should have been likewise notified including a picture/description of the offending garment(s), leaving the parent free to lodge protest with the school under more conventional means; actions that would have, hardly surprisingly, taken place had that truthfully rendered the facts regarding her daughter. Practically, commenters hit the proverbial nail on the head too asking who is going to, in the midst of taking their child, their daughter shopping repeatedly consult the student handbook under dress parameters, going to measure the dress, skirt, shorts on their child’s body anally retentively ensuring compliance, remind their teen going to the mall to do the same; who is going to measure their clothes before heading out to school?  Another highlighting the hypocrisy of school officials  asking, “are the volleyball teams still wearing bunz and the cheerleaders still wearing spankys, and the swimming and diving teams still wearing speedos and bathing suits? Or have they banned all those activities for inappropriate amounts of skin too? You’ll tell a girl who is graduating her dress is an inch too short then let the cheerleaders wear their uniforms on game day? This is silly. Somebody on the faculty didn’t like her.”[Sic] And don’t forget the track shorts, gymnastics leotards; keeping in mind what transpired in North Carolina is just the latest in a long line of schools using policy for someone’s own agenda, hiding behind regulations to avoid making clear, concise decisions based on a situation, this one giving itself a bigger out stipulating principals can enact more rules “to preserve the educational environment.” Because rules and regulations means I can turn to page 1,004 see clothes worn must look like this, find that item X must be so many inches, in the process discovering I do have grounds to punish a student I don’t like, don’t think will amount to anything, causes me stress, consternation, pronounce the school district’s judgment rather than my own and refer the “angry mob” to people higher up the bureaucratic food chain than myself, people getting paid more than myself to deal with these overwhelming headaches. Means I don’t have to worry or even ask myself if I considered all perspectives, looked at all angles, weighed all the evidence, listened to all sides, understood the intent, the meaning behind what was done, the supposed infraction committed; I don’t have to stop long enough to think does what I’m doing even make sense? Including but not limited to the Colorado school who suspended a girl after she shaved her head in support of her best friend battling cancer; never mind supporting a friend, demonstrating compassion, life lessons was more important than a dress code. Or the Christian school who requested one 8-year- olds grandparents’ send her elsewhere because her jeans, t-shirts and short hair had classmates confused if she was a boy or girl, insinuated she had gender identity issues, in other words might be a lesbian, and being a Christian school they do not support sexual immorality, homosexuality or alternative gender identity. Although nowhere in my bible do I remember reading commandments about not wearing pants, makeup, dancing, cutting your hair if you were female. Plus only in their twisted ideology does wearing jeans, t-shirts, sneakers and short hair make you a lesbian, do those clothing and style choices constitute either homosexuality, sexual immorality, i.e. fornication, adultery or bestiality, especially when applied to an 8-year-old.   

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/colorado-girl-shaves-head-for-pal-with-cancer-temporarily-suspended/

No matter the number of indulgent parents raising a generation of spoiled kids, the current headlined example isn’t representative of them; rather showcased is a parent who found an innovative way to get her message across, encourage others to stand up for themselves, their children, not sit idly by while being bowled over by minimal authority figures possessing minimal power over increasingly trivial things. Otherwise we would all become The Milgram experiment, proving we are willing to do unimaginable things to people if a high enough authority figure tells us to.Nor does it signify the singular reason behind teens, adolescents, young adults holding no respect for authority; yes in the 80’s if a kid supposedly violated the dress code the parent would back the school. But remember people who had children, especially old enough to be in high school, typically where the bulk of infractions occur, during the 80’s were a product of the 50’s (the conformity decade) and 60’s where extreme social, dress conformity still reigned over large parts of the country, the feminist movement was newer and incomplete for early 80’s high schoolers, we didn’t know what we know now, hadn’t achieved as significant equality fights. Also authority figures held the confidence of adults they knew what they were doing, guidelines, rules had a purpose besides nitpicking kids, drumming up reasons to bar them from school, denigrate character on the basis of modern era fashion. Today parents no longer have that assurance, feel that confidence; too many teachers have been exposed as pedophiles, abused their positions to bully kids, target kids, parents they dislike. Many students feel dress code rules are stupid, meaningless because they are; more importantly stupidly applied when randomly put into practice against attire pictured in beginning of the piece news footage, a dress almost to her knee, waging war on sleeveless tops, bare shoulders instead of the original focus, shorts their behind is actually handing out of, a skirt/dress so short if they bend over you can see a girl’s underwear, cleavage actually spilling from a shirt, wearing pasties and nothing else on top, Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction, not a shirt, dress coming to where a standard photo drape sits, mainly called too low by commenters because of it’s no sleeves,  the same outspoken naysayers deeming anything, sleeveless shirt or dress, a spaghetti strap whether it qualifies or not. We are a nation built on standing up to rules we believe are unfair, unjust, discriminatory; not doing so is how we end up living in a totalitarian state, even on small things such as what your child wears to school.If all we ever did was follow rules without question we would still be British colonies subject to more taxation through the nose than we already believe we are as our ownsovereign nation, slavery, the owning and systematic mistreatment of another person, usually a black person, as property would be legal, civil rights unheard of, integration a pipe dream, gay rights not even in the imaginations of the most enlightened citizens. Women, whom these rules forever crack down on and disproportionately negatively impact, would be legally barred from basics like voting, owing property, working beyond domestic duties, and if she did manage to earn wages would still need a husband, male relative to manage her money because she has no legal rights or say in what happens to it, women’s rights, forget it. Men would still be able to beat their wives according to the biblical verse women should be submissive to her husband; marital rape, social sacrilege, because half the reason men get married is to have sex available at their beck and call without sin. It’s his right as a married man and to take it whenever he wants, so went the argument when women’s rights groups sought to have it recognized in a court of law.  This whole incident smacks of a newly appointed 5th grade hall monitor so enamored with their power, focused on “the rules” he’ll let the kindergarten, first grade student, obviously needing the bathroom stand their holding themselves, wiggling until they wet all over themselves because they forgot their hall pass, because those are the rules. Except we’re supposed to be talking about adults capable of higher function, better reasoning, problem solving.  

Clothing wars part 2 message to teachers

Oh out of the mouths of babes; students are exactly right stating dress codes almost always, undeniably, disproportionately debasing the character of female teens, young women that sending girls home for shorts, bra straps and length of skirts does indeed send the message hiding her body and being overly constrained by a few persons’ view of modesty, morality, acceptability is more important than her education. Imposing said clothing code on the grounds of creating a distraction free environment, particularly for hormone driven boys, more than perpetuates the ridiculous falsehood boys are the only ones who can be distracted by hormonal changes, the opposite sex, it sends the message they are not responsible for controlling their own thoughts or actions in addition to cultivating the aforementioned environment is more important than her education. Her male classmates are more important, more deserving of an education based on our preconceptions drawn from how she is dressed. Tying directly into the young lady, also attending school there, sent home for too short shorts who adamantly suggested, instead of shaming girls for their bodies, teach boys girls are not sexual objects, continuing to describe guys born into the world feeling entitled not only to women’s bodies but their opinion regarding them. Subsequently who is putting all these labels on young girls, teens, women across the board, teen guys, guys of all ages having been unlucky in love, rejected by a woman or parroting their parents’ ideas on the opposite sex, motivations of persons with two X chromosomes?  Jealous 45-50 year old women mad they’ve had 3 kids or let their bodies go, who are at least 200 lbs., thighs that look like hams yearning for the days when you resembled the students, could wear those same cute clothes, get a man’s attention?  People horrified everyone isn’t going to fall in line dress a-la the Duggers, girls wearing ankle length skirts, decrying pants as too form fitting, decreeing dancing too provocative expecting us all to look like Maryknoll nuns mocking high school kids saying you can’t be serious. Further, why are you, the adults, looking; her behind is hanging out her shorts, she bent over and you saw, thought you saw her underwear, she’s wearing yoga pants and you can see she has a behind, her shirt shows her cleavage, a term that seems to encompass the entire space from the neck to a girl, woman’s breast, not singularly the part that must be coved by clothing. Again why are you looking, we know what her fellow classmates, members of her age group want, but what are you doing?  Simultaneously you don’t toss the girl from the prom because of ogling dads; you first inform the fathers, that is a student not a “hot parent” eligible for dating, next reminding them they are there to chaperone their daughters’ dance, not exhibit the exact behavior you are present to protect them from. Leaving us with so are they, women/girls trashy, low brow, immoral for wearing what they do or are we the perverted ones for jumping to conclusions about both them and what they choose to put on; “accentuated her figure too much,” what does that even mean? A more poignant question, are the people dedicated to shaming young women into misery for a cute outfit doing so because they’re having impure thoughts they shouldn’t have, can’t control and therefore must control others?  A final note on their laughable approach to boys and distraction; perhaps they should contemplate the Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul cartoon depicting a young man telling his parents he flunked algebra, because it had the word bra in it. Translation boys led by their hormones, “at that age” can be distracted by anything, noticing a girl has a chest for example, whether she’s wearing something looking like came off the set of Little House on the Prairie or Victoria Secret.

http://www.today.com/video/today/55432835#55432835

Speaking of Victoria Secret, Today’s Tamron Hall and her cohost commented on this story vaguely revealing the creepy factor of how length was usually measured, using 2 fingers, and the problem that presents in and of itself; quickly sidestepping that to talk about an “epic battle” involving what appears to be her 14 year old stepdaughter buying a swimsuit. The point of contention she wanted a swimsuit from, you guessed it, Victoria Secret; something Ms. Hall promptly said wasn’t going to happen, one can reasonably assume because the things sold there are inappropriate, too sexy for a 14 year old.  Going on to talk about conferring with her mother to get a swimsuit that struck balance between letting her have her own style and met basic tenets  of age appropriate modesty; both making thequintessential parent mistake in not first finding out why she wanted a swimsuit from there. Is it that she likes the name brand, designer label, is she trying to impress slightly older friends, is she interested in a boy trying to get his attention; if it is the label she is after is there another with more acceptable to you options she would accept?  Did anyone look at Victoria Secret’s selection in various local stores to see if they had anything up to either guardians standards; where is she going to wear this swim suit is important too. Because if all she wants it for is backyard pool parties at her own home, to lay out on a back patio, deck and tan getting minimal tan lines where no one will see her in the latter case, why does it matter at all? On one hand, Ms. Hall says schools, this school, is obsessing too much over clothing, chiefly girls clothing contradicting herself completely proceeding to tell the story. Mirroring what has happened to us as a society, adults, those who are parents are consistently trying to get kids to slow down, not attempt to grow up too fast, do things too soon, wear adult clothing before it’s time; contrastingly are in an exceeding hurry to shove them into uniforms solving all our hang up’s not theirs, mold them into little adults claiming we are preparing them for the working world, shouting how much it will serve them in the long run. Members of society making these decisions, presiding so iron-fistedly over the next generation the same people who think Michelle Obama doesn’t act like a first lady for donning tasteful, elegant, sleeveless yet appropriate, evening gowns, dresses, blouses, condemn her for doing pushups on a floor somewhere within the Whitehouse, apparently because it’s the Whitehouse and wearing shorts on vacation; poll results from their southern sister state to be exact. People in charge of the same caliber, mindset proudly supporting abstinence only sex education then wondering why they have a school full of hormone infused teens, predominantly boys according to them, who not only can’t control themselves but have no solid reason to do so. Church is just a place they report to on Sunday, because their parents tell them to; god either something they don’t believe in, so abstract it’s beyond comprehension. Or when they do hire someone to do the dreaded but mandated “sex talk,” they invite entities like Pam Stenzel who’s part verbal equivalent of nurse Ratchet and part fire and brimstone to use fear, confusing, inaccurate numbers and reiteration of worse case scenarios to convince students should they have sex they are doomed to be diseased, infertile, shunned by society and eternally dammed by god. These identical morality police, sex-phobes so frightened children might learn the facts about sex, reproduction and their own bodies, they are willing to scale back anatomy and physiology, biology curriculum because it doesn’t suit their religious ideology.  

Unexplored is the true effect publicly shaming girls the way Central Davidson High did/does has on young men; instead of creating a distraction free learning experience, in essence solving problems before they start, instead of being an educational institution, yes depicting the way things are but also with an eye toward instilling to the future the way things should be, what they end up doing is reinforcing the opposite. Apart from treating girls in such ways teaching them the onus is on girls not to look like sex objects rather than boys to control themselves, insinuating you are a slut, you are skanky, have no moral fiber if you dress this way or that, according to my, meaning administrators, values, not even the majority standards of larger society in the modern age. Sending the message women, girls who dress “that way” are easy, promiscuous, asking to be propositioned for a date, for sex, asking to be hassled for their clothes, harassed with crude comments, even raped, because she refused to dress “modestly” according to again my definition. Sending the message it’s shameful to show any skin below the neck, wear sleeveless tops, dresses in summer, short shorts on a hot day and thus ok to humiliate her in front of others as school officials do, to punish them because they dared be comfortable for the weather, she dared see herself as something other than sexual; continual sexual objectification, rape her just deserts a partial component in the proliferation of gang rape. But public schools are going to continue the puritanical values march independent of what it does to the young boy who innocently begins to like a girl and thinks there’s something wrong, sinful, to be ashamed of about that, who simply wants the experience of his first kiss, first boy-girl relationship who never gets there leading to feelings of inadequacy increasing his potential to rape. While fossil bureaucratsand dirty old men, spinster-esque old women turn to girls perpetuating the mythology they must don pant suits, dress in androgyny to both, be “appropriate” for the working world and avoid being raped, avoid being blamed for it if they do fall victim. When we know rape is about power, anger, sadism, pain being sexually gratifying, guys so social awkward, anti-social the only way they can gain sexual contact is to force someone, ironically calling them lesbian if they do dress as described, for whatever reason. When we know all ages of girls, women have been raped, subjected to sexual abuse from infants to the elderly; you’d be hard pressed to convince anyone a 80 year old grandma in a floral print housecoat was brutally violated because of her “sexy outfit.”  Uncomfortable as it is for the good Christian values set to admit, nor are women the only ones to be victims of rape. Men/boys too find themselves on the horrific end of sexual assault, rape just as women do, and not because they are homosexual, their assailant is homosexual, as a part of same sex partner domestic violence. Outside pedophile sexual abuse, more often because someone thought them homosexual and wanted to prove their masculinity by showing them what it was like to be a homosexual, a fairy.   

http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/video/bullying-job-20524429

Lastly someone must interject a touch of practicality, truth and modern reality into the tired argument you can’t get a job, can’t go to work like that, how the school did our 17 year old young woman a favor by reacting the way they did; aside from watching the now canceled What Not to Wear, alive and well in re-runs, clearly showing people in bad outfits who still hold jobs beyond minimum wage, that may be the least of her problems in the current employment climate. Her job for the next 4 years beyond likely college student is most aptly going to be barista, fast food worker mandating a uniform, but when she does move up to the next rung of opportunities commenters had a point when they said things like this:My BIGGEST issue with this is the way the Administration handled the issue. If this was a work place, and a superior spoke to an employee in such manner in front of others, shows lack of management skills. Dealing with discipline issues MUST happen in a place where the employee is given some dignity. This would also create a hostile work environment, which in turn causes moral to go down hill. It snowballs into something much worse [Sic]. Yes it’s called workplace bullying that is not just drummed up out of the imaginations of millennial whine-o’s allergic to hard work, but running rampant through the employment sector at an alarming rate effecting health, productivity and functionality of workers all.  To say nothing of if you managed employees this way you would be subject to lawsuits, public shaming bad publicity as demonstrated in the bank woman who sued her employer after being fired for “dressing too sexy” despite bringing business to the bank and being well loved by customers.  Nationally we heard about the man who got fired for the football tie he wore to his car dealership job, not to be confused with a fortune 500 company position. Still people hold mentalities best described thus: I still stand by my argument from yesterday, and I challenge anyone to tell me that their experience in life (at school, at work, etc) has been totally fair, and that they have never fallen prey to poor management or a maligned administration. Bottom line: we live in an extremely bureaucratic society full of red tape. Rules change and no one finds out about it until weeks or even months later, when someone – or several someones – gets in trouble for doing something not even knowing it was wrong in the first place! So, I stand by my convictions. Life isn’t fair. It has never been fair. And it likely will never be fair. Stuff happens. Sucks, but what can you do? You can sit and cry about it, or you can pick up and move on. At least this student got to graduate. I’ve heard worse stories…” [Sic] God forbid we counter the above quote with the one thing in the 1950’s workplace model that functions hiring people on willingness to work, what they know, what they can bring to the table not who, their passion for the job, aptitude for learning, not their walking gate, condition of their teeth, walking gate. God forbid young women fed up with being unduly judge based on what they wear, how they look, told in high school to cover up when wearing perfectly acceptable clothes then seen as effeminate, androgynous if they aren’t wearing makeup, earrings, basically putting on that same fashion show to go to work say enough is enough. God forbid this young woman learn from what her mother did and standup for herself, the rights of women everywhere.     

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About Natasha Sapp

Proclaiming an edgy voice of reason to America,while bringing back the common sense to social issues.

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