Dress Codes, Responsibility and Rape.

I’ve been thinking recently about the way that society regulates the female body by dictating what is considered to be appropriate clothing and what isn’t.

More specifically, I’ve been thinking about the way in which young females are policed at school through the use of a dress code that only seems to apply to one sex.

I understand that uniforms serve many purposes and that it is beneficial for students at a school to wear the same thing for various reasons. I also understand that schools want all of their students to dress “appropriately” for their age and that they do not want to contribute to the growing sexualisation of teenage girls.

What I don’t understand, however, is the long list of rules that dictate the appropriate dress for female students. I don’t understand the downright ridiculous uniform policies and I certainly don’t understand the reasoning behind them.

In many schools, fitted trousers are not considered to be appropriate because they show the female’s shape. In other schools showing your collarbones is not allowed. In most schools girls are not allowed to have their bra straps or bare shoulders visible, meaning that a basic vest top is considered to be inappropriate and too revealing for female students to wear.

Why aren’t girls allowed to show their shoulders, might you ask? Well, it’s because they will apparently be a distraction to male students.

Instead of teaching women from an early age that they must keep their body covered so that they do not distract boys, how about we start teaching boys to simply not sexualise every single inch of female flesh?

By imposing strict dress codes such as these, women are taught that keeping themselves covered so as not to tempt boys is the norm and that, essentially, the way that they dress is directly responsible for boys’ behaviour.

More worryingly about these dress codes is the fact that, in addition to leading women to believing they are responsible for the behaviour of men, they let young boys believe that they are not responsible for their own actions.

The behaviour of boys who objectify young girls based on what they’re wearing is commonly justified with phrases such as “boys will be boys” or “you know what boys are like.” This implies that boys have no self control and that it isn’t their fault if they falsely interpret a woman’s clothing as an invitation for sexual activity.

This message sticks with women into adulthood and feeds directly into rape culture. It is the woman’s job to ensure she does nothing to provoke sexual harassment or assault from a man. She should not go out late at night. She should not walk the streets alone. She should not wear revealing clothing. If she does, isn’t she kind of asking for it?

Instead of regulating women’s behaviour and clothing and holding them responsible for the behaviour of men, how about we start holding the men who objectify and attack women accountable for their actions?

Image via Instagram.


5 thoughts on “Dress Codes, Responsibility and Rape.

  1. This is very true! By covering up in the early 1900’s it has created a world where bare flesh is related to sex. It also makes men out to be sex crazed which many are not. I think school uniform is important and should be smart, practical and comfortable. As a man we weren’t allowed to wear shorts in the summer, which was really annoying. I do think that we live in a sad world where there are sexual predators meaning a school girl showing flesh is in danger. Uniform is not a fashion statement, so I understand the rules there. I have found that women are particularly judgemental of their own sex and revealing clothes will bring about the cruelist of comments from women. People should be dressed how they wish. Women who are raped should not be judged, but unfortunately again we live in a world where walking the streets at night is not safe for men or women. There is a double standard however. A man who is stabbed late at night is not blamed, but a woman would be.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Exactly! I have till date not understood why it’s okay to just say ‘boys will be boys’. That is no justification. Stop attacking women on the basis of their clothes and start taking responsibility for every time that you’ve objectified them.
    Wonderfully written. Great post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • @Cross all Boundaries

      “I have till date not understood why it’s okay to just say ‘boys will be boys’. That is no justification.

      One explanation might be that, since we live in a patriarchy, the boys will be given different treatment since they are the class of people who are the subjects, as opposed to females who are groomed to be objects.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Right! That’s true. Patriarchy could definitely be a reason. And I think that that’s what needs to be changed. I mean why groom women to be objects? It’s not okay to say that only men are powerful and can lead the way. It’s important to teach men and women that we are equals and not segregate them into classes based on an unequal system.
        Thank you for this explanation! 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

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