Jessica Valenti in CiF on burkhas…wait, sorry, my mistake, school uniform:
In the last few weeks, almost 200 students – almost all of them female – at Tottenville High School in Staten Island, New York have been given detention over dress code violations.
But what makes an outfit inappropriate? A peek of shoulder? An inch of midriff? Or maybe it’s just being young and female that school administrators find offensive.
I live and work in Essex, love, and believe you me, a ‘peek of shoulder’ or ‘inch of midriff’ would be regarded as shockingly Victorian.
In a statement, Tottenville High School Superintendent Aimee Horowitz said in schools that don’t have uniform requirements “students have the right to determine their own dress except where such dress creates a distraction, is dangerous or interferes with the learning and teaching process.”
Who could possibly argue with that?
The idea of female bodies as “distracting” isn’t a new idea in the dress code debate.
Oh, indeed. Often, it’s just their hair…
Let’s be honest: rules for boys that prohibit certain kinds of jewelry or hoodies have nothing to do with their sexuality, whereas rules that seek to literally cover women’s bodies absolutely do.
Right on, Jessica! And as soon as you’ve sorted out the awful patriarchy insisting on not showing bum cleavage above the skirt, I’m sure you’ll turn your attention to other matters…
The rules are so disproportionate, they could be a violation of Title IX, the federal law that ensures non-discrimination in educational environments.
Once again, we are reminded that US law is dafter than our own (even if only by a little).
While school administrators figure out how a rule that pulls predominantly girls out of class isn’t sexist, young women are fighting back. Students in Tottenville continue to come to school dressed to break the discriminatory code, and not too far away in New Jersey, a group of young middle school activists are organizing using the hashtag #IAmMoreThanADistraction.
If those young women keep it up, before too long, it will be their principal singled out as the real distraction.
You go, girl! Fight those important (safe!) First World battles…