Dress codes have changed significantly over the years, depending on the style of the time. According to The Atlantic, many schools in previous decades have banned go-go boots, or tops that reveal the shoulder, and repealed these regulations shortly after they pass out of vogue.
The attentive observer will notice one thing these rules have in common; they all apply almost exclusively to girls. According to the Atlantic’s interview with New York’s Bedford County School Superintendent Jere Hochman, it’s been an informal policy among administrative staff to dress code students based on gender.
“It’s an annual conversation based on what’s popular and what isn’t, fads and such,” said Hochman in the interview.
One of the most common words in the dress code debate is “distraction,” a term that refers almost universally to female students who break the dress code. This trend of thinking, implying that female students are the center of the problem, is dangerously toxic to the self-image of its victims.
One Twitter campaign centering around the hashtag #IAmMoreThanADistraction pushed for awareness on the part of policymakers that their rules imply that women need to protect themselves from male attention for fear of dire retribution.
While their motives may have been admirable, the distinct lack of change in regulation since suggests that the campaign may not be the most effective way to put pressure on those in power. It should be clear that more obvious public awareness activity is required, like picketing and funded lobbying.
Not to say that there should be no limits in the code, but maybe loosening the restrictions is in order, to say nothing of dividing the blame.
No crime is confined to a single gender and regardless of rarity, it should be treated the same. No matter what gender you’re attracted to, or to which you belong, you should be able to control yourself. It’s simply the price of living in a society based on respect for the rights of others.