Opinion: Is the NSHS Dress Code Sexist?

by Dream Nelson

 

On Monday, August 14th, North Springs students were separated by grade levels and called into an assembly. This start-of-the-year assembly has become the norm for upperclassmen because it sets the rules and expectations for the school year. This year’s presentation was different from previous years, and many returning students noticed it. The administrators put together a PowerPoint of a variety of rules including the usual issues of tardies and absences, but one specific slide riled up the classes: The dress code.

The dress code has been something that students across the nation have been confronted with, but with little progress because it prohibits things we wear in our daily lives. North Springs is not the first school to have a strict dress code and it certainly won’t be the last.

At San Benito High School in Hollister, California, the boys of the school showed their support not only for the girls, but for the whole Let Girls Learn movement by mocking the dress code. As good an idea as this is, it probably would not go over well at North Springs. Then again, that didn’t stop students from having a Black Lives Matter protest. The point is clear, though: We, like the students at San Bento, want our styles to be seen and our voices to be heard.

The dress code in its current state is outdated. It shares the same mentality that has existed since women joined the work force. The restrictions on girl’s shoulders, shirts, and ripped jeans demonstrates how women historically have had to restrict themselves for the benefit of men. It implies a basic untruth: that what women do with their bodies affects their education and work, and the education and work of males around them. This theory suggests stereotypes about women and men, that our ability to remain civilized around each other is limited when it comes to our bodies.

This outdated mode of thinking was evident at the grade-level assembly. Students were presented with a dress code that suggested we should be ashamed of our bodies and our freedom to wear what we want. The difference between our generation and the school’s is clear: They grew up in a different time with different ideas about dress, and, unfortunately, while they have been at this school longer than we have, they seem to have drifted farther away from our generation’s values and our point-of-view.

Now some would say that the dress code is for our own protection, but what young girls need to learn is to be independent and smart: Don’t walk in an alley with a stranger, but don’t change your makeup, hair, and dress to “protect” yourself. Women shouldn’t have to change their physical characteristic to protect themselves. The actions of others does not rest alone with us.t yourself. The actions of others should not be on us.

As a community, the school’s staff and students need to be on the same page. The school is supposed to lead us, yet a gap of misunderstanding about dress values seems to put admin and teachers against us. There are rules that should be adhered to, but the strictness of the current dress code does follow the norms of today. There are other, greater concerns out there.

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