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Modern-Day Feminists: Man-Up

Female Freedom

Female Freedom

Copyright © Milosz Aniol /

Fighting for fashion.

Feminists of the past fought for the important rights of women to vote, to be employed, and for equal pay. These were amazing movements and played a vital role in creating equality for women. Today, a younger generation is fighting for...the right to ignore dress codes. They feel the policies are either written or enforced in a sexist manner and are creating a double-standard. Do they have valid arguments or is this just a new generation of young feminists with trivial complaints?

The latest instance happened last week, when some 13 year old kid got in trouble at school for violating a dress code (the shirt showed her shoulders). Sounds pretty typical right? It was, until her older 18 year old sister stepped in and made her a customized shirt for her to wear instead the next time she gets in trouble. Here's her tweet about it:

For those using a screen reader, the shirt says "Dress Code: promotes the objectification and sexualization of young bodies, blames the wearer for the onlooker's perceptions/actions, perpetuates rape culture, is BS."

Apart from sounding like an overblown reaction from a teen drama queen, the shirt is also wildly inaccurate. But this is just the latest in a series of instances where girls are rebelling against the enforcement of dress codes. For example, last year a girl from Helena High School (in Montana) organized a bra-less day after being admonished by the Vice Principal for not wearing a bra.

Dress codes do serve some important purposes. They help define lines about what's socially acceptable (what if a kid wanted to come to school in a bathing suit?). They keep the school environment feeling at least a little more classy and not like a fashion show. And they can help keep students on a somewhat level playing field who are are from different socioeconomic backgrounds.

With that said, I'll admit that I think dress codes can also be pretty silly myself. For example, when I was in school I received detentions for infractions of having an untucked shirt or not wearing a tie. But I didn't try to act like I was the victim of some social injustice. I didn't go on some rant about how my rights were violated. I didn't like ties or tucking my shirt in but I knew the consequences, so I went to the detentions and served my time.

Conversely, it sounds like these girls just don't want to follow the school's policies so are crying sexism. This teen's sister has turned a simple dress code into some crusade for all of womankind. She went on a tirade blaming the dress code for the objectification of girls and even "rape culture". She also called it a double-standard, and that may be true but the fact is there are a lot of double standards in life such as (very, very brief list):

  • Men are supposed to open doors for women, but the opposite isn't true.
  • Women who have had many partners are considered sluts, but men are considered studs.
  • Men who cry are considered weak, while women who cry are considered normal.
  • Men who wear their hair long are considered hippies or pretty-boys (depending on style).
  • Women with armpit hair are considered an Amazon.

These are social norms. It doesn't necessarily make it right, but it also isn't a reason to throw a tantrum either. Do you think if I (as a guy) showed up at work tomorrow with a skirt on that people wouldn't stare, point, laugh, take pics, then most likely send me home to change? Does that mean I am being objectified and that my rights are being trampled on? No, it means that in society what has become acceptable for a man to wear isn't the same as what is acceptable for a woman.

Don't do the crime.

In case you haven't figured it out yet, boys and girls are different; try embracing the differences instead of fighting them. Get used to the fact that there are double standards for the genders in numerous areas in life, and yes that includes different dress codes for the genders. However, boys don't usually go to school showing their legs or stomachs; nor do boys usually care about fashion to the same degree as girls do. I have nothing against feminists -- they have made important progress for women; but at least find something more admirable to fight for than fashion. Otherwise, if you don't like school's rules, either "man-up" and accept the punishment or find another school that has more lax dress codes so that you can feel liberated.

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Big Ed is the Chief Editor for Bigatorial.
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