As Free as a Bird

Spreading my voice on the injustices of rape culture, misogyny, and human trafficking in an effort to educate others and empower like-minded women.

Schools and Shaming

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You can read more about slut shaming by clicking on the image.

The question today is, are schools promoting weight shaming and slut shaming?

A few weeks ago I asked my boyfriend’s cousin to stay with me over night so that we could spend some bonding time together. She is a junior in high school and has pretty low self-esteem from what I understand. Since I was bullied and mistreated in high school I have kind of made it my goal to help her and mentor her whenever I can. When she was staying with me she was talking to me at breakfast about school. With teary eyes she began to divulge an all too familiar story about her school administration. She is constantly targeted for her clothing, and I suspect it is because she is Hispanic and does not fit the Barbie mold. She has been told on several occasions that her pants are too tight or that she can’t wear shorts because her legs are too big. A school official has also said to her that certain clothing does not work with certain body types. To me that sounds like they are insinuating to her that she is too fat to wear shorts.  Frankly, that is her decision and own opinion to make, it isn’t the schools’ business to play fashion police. This is a terrible message to be sending a young girl in high school, or any girl for that matter. High school is a time when most girls are insecure, vulnerable, and have low self-esteem. The school is telling young girls that aren’t obese that they are fat, and even if they were actually obese it is still none of their business outside serving healthier foods for everyone at school. Rather than schools standing by their students and encouraging them, they are shaming them for being different. She is constantly targeted for her clothing while the administration looks the other way when it comes to a certain group of girls who wear shorts that are even shorter than what she wears.

Also, wearing leggings without shorts over them is banned from her school, as are yoga pants, I believe. While in some regard I understand why, I don’t think that limiting students’ clothing betters their academic career or causes them to “make better life choices” (and I hardly doubt that is the true reasoning for clothing restrictions). Frankly, it is slut shaming.

When did teaching kids appropriateness cross the line into shaming? This is a tough subject, because in a way I don’t think young girls should be baring themselves inappropriately at school.. but mainly because I know there are creeps out there that have to turn the way you dress into something sexual and run with it. Yes, you should dress respectfully in certain situations, but many of these recent cases of schools and dress codes have truly crossed the line and flew into another atmosphere.

Here are some great examples from an awesome article that you should also read:

1. A middle school in California banned tight pants. At the beginning of last month, a middle school in Northern California began telling girls to avoid wearing pants that are “too tight” because it “distracts the boys.” At a mandatory assembly for just the female students, the middle school girls were told that they’re no longer allowed to wear leggings or yoga pants. “We didn’t think it was fair how we have all these restrictions on our clothing while boys didn’t have to sit through [the assembly] at all,” one student told local press. Some parents also complained, leading the school’s assistant principal to record a voicemailexplaining the new policy. “The guiding principle in all dress codes is that the manner in which students dress does not become a distraction in the learning environment,” the message said.

2. A high school principal in Minnesota emailed parents to ask them to cover up their daughters. A principal in Minnetonka, MN recently wrote an email telling parents to stop letting their daughters wear leggings or yoga pants to school. He says the tight-fitting pants are fine with longer shirts but, when worn with a shorter top, a girl’s “backside” can be “too closely defined.” The big risk of having a defined backside, he thinks, is that it can “be highly distracting for other students.”

3. Two girls in Ohio were turned away from their prom for being “improperly dressed.” Laneisha Williams and Nyasia Mitchell were barred from prom this spring for wearing dresses that administrators considered “too revealing.” The girls say that they didn’t believe they were violating a dress code that said dresses couldn’t be too short or show too much cleavage. But one administrator told local news that the high school girls were only allowed to wear dresses that had “no curvature of their breasts showing.”

4. A kindergarten student in Georgia was forced to change her “short” skirt because it was a “distraction to other students.” It’s hard to imagine that a kindergartener’s outfit could be “a distraction to other students,” but a mother in Georgia told locals news there that her daughter had been outfitted in someone else’s pants — without parental permission — after the principal deemed the skirt the young girl was wearing too short.” The girl had apparently wore the skirt, and accompanying leggings, just one week before without incident.

5. Forty high school girls were sent home from a winter dance in California after “degrading” clothing inspections “bordering on sexual harassment.” A school board member’s daughter was among the 40 girls turned away from Capistrano Valley High’s February dance for wearing dresses that either exposed their midriffs or were cut too low. Before the dance, girls were apparently required to flap their arms up and down and turn around for male administrators’ inspection. The school issues image guidelines for appropriate dress on its website — though the images were nearly all of women, and the only male image depicted proper attire. One girl alleges that the principal told her, “Not all dresses look good on certain body shapes.” A grandmother of one of the girls who was turned away from the dance also said that a teacher remarked about her granddaughter, “What mother would allow her daughter to wear a dress like that?” Apparently the school did receive some praise, though, from the parents of two male students.

So, does slut shaming breed rape culture? Hell yes it does. Slut shaming tells girls that they are the cause of rape, they are seducing the men into action because of the way that they dress or act. FALSE. Rapists rape because they are rapists. Why should we condone shaming girls and placing blame where it doesn’t belong. Our society hides behind this guise of being politically correct, proper, and “appropriate”. Well, if accepting rape is proper and appropriate, I say f*^% propriety. Schools need to be in the business of education, not discrimination.

 

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