Thursday, October 01, 2015

SOA Girls Get A for Ingenuity; F for Reality

Reese Fischer, a student at the Charleston County School District's School of the Arts (SOA), figured out a way to get her complaints heard by more than just a few teachers and administrators. In a brilliant move, she equated unequal enforcement of the dress code for girls with wearing the scarlet letter. According to Fischer, the dress code is enforced more strictly for girls, especially heavier girls.

The dress code at SOA, as described by the reporter, mirrors every high school dress code in the country. The purpose of a dress code is to minimize distractions in the classroom. One of the endemic problems with a dress code is unequal enforcement by teachers and administrators. Some believe strict enforcement is necessary; some don't even notice violations, and some think dress codes are silly and want to be friends with the students. The way to solve this problem, of course, is with a uniform, and many schools have gone that route in the last decade.

Two problems remain unaddressed by Paul Bowers's article: the effects of popular culture on teenage styles and male-female differences in perception.

Schools fight a losing battle against girls wearing clothing that appears on the latest pop singer or actress but actually mimics that worn by streetwalkers, otherwise known as "sex workers." Adults possess a screen that tells them what is too provocative and what isn't. Teenage girls do not. Many do not have someone present in the house when they leave to say, "You're not going out in that outfit!"

Authority figures may inadvertently select heavier girls for criticism because being voluptuous is sexier. A stick-thin girl in skin-tight shorts does not stand out in the same way a well-rounded one does. Teenage girls want to dress like everybody else. They haven't learned yet what works well with their body type.

Bowers skirts (pun intended) around the unequal treatment of boys and girls. Girls dress provocatively to attract male attention. Is it even possible for a male to dress provocatively to attract female attention? If every 15-year-old male in the classroom is riveted on the tight shorts worn by a female classmate, are they learning geometry? That situation is precisely what the dress code is formulated to prevent.

Careful, girls. You may end up in uniform!

No comments: