Imagine you are sending your child to a brand new school, and you take home a binder with all kinds of info. Imagine next flipping through all the memos in the binder till you find the following passages, the dress code. Bear in mind that the child in your vignette is female.
For Girls: No young lady at our school is allowed to wear dog collars, piercings on any part of the body, sexually provocative messages on T-shirts, sports bras, or dangling earrings. You must wear modest clothing, and your earrings must be no bigger than a quarter, one earring per earlobe. Boys are not allowed jewelry. Girls are not allowed makeup, any colored nail polish, or anything colorful on shoes, notably a heel higher than an inch and a half, or a brand or logo bigger than a quarter. Only Catholic crosses will be allowed on the neck.
Now, add to this long list of don’ts the fact that boys can’t have long hair, must wear a belt, cannot have pierced ears at all, and must wear the prescribed boy uniform. For girls, it is obviously a pinnafore jumper in the younger grades, then laer a wraparound skirt with a primitive look for the remaining grades 6-8. The same jewelry standard is held for boys, but they can only wear Catholic symbols such as a Cross or Crucifix around their neck.
Believe this or don’t, this is an actual dress code based on several schools I’ve attended. Most of this is based on that of St. Teresa’s School. But we don’t need to look far beyond the pricey private school regimentation to see how sexist the uniform actually is.
For one, prohibiting boys from having long hair puts them in a patriarchal sphere of influence. All students have regulation gym outfits, no visible sex differences in the markings. However, most schools with dress codes are promoting a culture of rape, misogyny, and uniformity and regimented vigor that is not even seen in the Army or other military branches.
The restricted dress for both sexes promotes the dastardly discrimination against transgendered males and females. Suppose I don’t want to have long hair, and so I cut it short. Nothing is said. But if my brother’s hair was to his buttocks, the school would send either boy home with orders to cut their hair short! Had my eldest younger sib, for instance, wanted to express that long equals cool, he should have been allowed to do this. STS and other private schools’ dress codes are obviously promoting boys’ rights over girls. Public schools like Titusville High School always emphasize girls’ dress over boys. While Nancy Jo Sales writes that girls wearing sexualized clothing impede their own cognitive functions, there is a bad double standard that must be upheld seemingly in all schools. It’s okay for boys to go after girls for wearing what appears to be “sexy” clothing. While this is not an issue at STS and private high schools like Melbourne Central Catholic or even Pope John Paul II High School, it becomes a question of acceptance in public school land.
In the land where school is free, a certain color scheme might work, so writes Brian Crosby. In his famous book, Smart Kids Bad Schools, he even suggested all teachers and students dress in work appropriate clothing. He points out that students should not dress like they just got out of bed, but that going to school is like going to work. For instance, I can picture Mr. Crosby dressing in a snappy suit, hair slick back, all his stuff ready, and then he’s ready for work. It’s an office job, so dressing in a snappy outfit should be expected. The tux just goes overboard. If any male teacher wants to dress in the style of a pink polo and a hula skirt, so what! So long as they’re dressing in a way that expresses themselves appropriately.
The only sentence I’d put in any dress code is this: All staff and students should dress in a way that is fitting for a work setting i.e. business casual or a bit less formal, but that expresses the feelings of the students in an appropriate way. No sexual harassment will be tolerated for female dress, and any boy caught harassing a girl will be given a mandatory parent education conference for his first offense. That is all, no long lists of don’ts. Crosby advocated a positively worded set of rules in a dress code, and in so doing, his vision inspires and moves me to think that if I’d seen the dress code above, I’d have told my mother if I knew what I know now that “STS is a highly sexist and antifreedom school that only promotes a single religious framework. Jesus would never turn his back on people for not wearing pinnafores or pants.”
Here’s another subject I’d like to cover briefly. Pope Francis is the man. Why? He is saying that transgender Catholics and other different people should be accepted because Jesus would never turn his back on them. No kidding. It doesn’t matter whether you are a Jew or a Catholic, Hindu or Buddhist, you should be welcome at the altar of a God or spiritual deity, whatever his name, Buddha or otherwise, who accepts all persons as equals and should love you the way you are. No matter how you dress, you should come to the altar of God, and even the public schools have forgotten this.