It has been long argued in feminism that the road of gender inequality begins in school, where we are taught that girls and boys are supposed to act and be treated differently – from subject choices, to playground fun, to uniform.
One school, Metro Academic Studies in Atlanta US, has taken girls’ dress codes to the extreme with their sexist rules for their spring formal attire.
With the long list of rules urging female students to wear riding shorts underneath their dresses and to measure each bit of skin on show, and less than two lines for the male students, Flannery Bogost, 15, says her school is simply teaching its students that a woman’s worth depends on what she’s wearing.
Flannery received this dress code with her sign up form for the spring formal, “My reaction to it was just disbelief,” she said.
The 15 year old student was shocked that the school couldn’t see the issue in giving girls considerably more rules in the dress code than the boys, “My school is more on the conservative side, often indicating that what females wear somehow define your level of professionalism or tastefulness.”
The problem with this, according to Flannery is that schools such as hers are raising girls to see themselves in terms of how men will judge them and eventually lose their own identity.
“The wider message this is sending to society is that somehow what a woman wears defines her worth and when we teach this to young females, we are teaching them to objectify themselves and other women,” Flannery warned.
She continued, “When girls are brought up surrounded by these rules and people telling them how to look and act, we are teaching them to lose sight of themselves and only do what men think appropriate.”
Standing up to your school can be hard, however, as students often don’t have as much of a voice and power as teachers. “There is definitely more both I and other students can do to better resolve this issue though,” Flannery said.
MPs in the UK have recently debated sexist dress codes in the workplace following a petition where women are fighting against being told that they have to wear high heels and revealing clothing.
What’s interesting is that females are told throughout school they mustn’t look sexual, only for them to be told the opposite once they reach the workplace, showing a women have to adapt to society’s demands on their appearances without any say themselves.
“A person’s style or sexuality should never affect how seriously we take them and how they are treated in every day life,” Flannery said, but unfortunately, this is exactly what schools appear to be preparing females to face throughout their whole life.