Dress codes encourage objectification of women

by Baylee Percell

When a school enforces a strict dress code upon students, it has an effect on on-going issues in today’s society, namely sexual objectification and rape culture.

As young as students in elementary school, kids have been told to worry about how they dress every single day. Whether it’s rips in a pair of jeans, a skirt or pair of shorts that falls a certain number of inches above the knee, or a shirt that shows your back, students are told that how they dress affects how other people think.

Students should be able to dress freely without feeling objectified in order to teach the rising generation that clothes do not determine consent. This is more effective than the current teaching and state of mind, which ends with students being fearful to express themselves through what they wear.

How is it fair that boys can go shirtless in a PE class but girls would be shamed for wearing a tank top? Girls are constantly being told to cover up to avoid distracting male peers rather than telling males to keep their hands to themselves when a girl wears a crop top or leggings. Instead we, as women, are objectified and are being told that how you dress is how your character is portrayed and if you don’t want harassment then to dress modest which sets our power of words to be insignificant because apparently we are “asking for it” by what we wear instead of it being as simple as to say no. Aside from certain dress codes being objectifying and sexist, it’s influential to males and their perspective on consent.

While the issue may not seem big in high school, it influences that state of mind for a lifetime which result in common cases such as a case in Jakartab, where Fauzi Bowo raped and murdered a young woman and blamed it on what the woman was wearing. Or like the case in Manitoba, Canada where a man raped a woman and justified it to the judge by saying he was under “inviting circumstances” because she was wearing a tube top and high heels. In this case, the judge responded with the following statement: “This is a case of misunderstood signals and inconsiderate behaviors.” And the man got no jail time for this assault.

Sexual assault is a huge issue. Every 98 seconds an American gets sexually assaulted. This results in 361,500 victims each year which shows that we are not teaching the right ways to prevent these terrible actions.

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