Dress Codes: Why Women are More Than a Distraction

There’s a heated debate currently racing across North America surrounding the potential idea that “slut-shaming” starts with dress codes enforced by elementary, middle and high schools. There are numerous cases that cite girls from ages 8 to 18 being sent home from school because of what they are wearing, being called “distracting.” Clothing that usually provokes punishment are things like leggings, skirts, shorts, and shirts with low-cut collars.

My high school had a school uniform, and the skirt option was removed all together because of “too many violations” (i.e. girls rolling up their skirts so that they were “too short”). The sexualization of girls within the education system is outrageous, and has no intellectual place in the progressive society we find ourselves in now.

Lots of administrative school boards are asking the question, “How much skin is too much?” But is that really where the focus should lie? I’m not sure the way girls dress while going to school really matters, especially not for the reason most girls are reprimanded: because they are a distraction.

A young woman’s education is equally as important as a young man’s education, and to disrupt someone’s learning to have them change their clothing is purely a representation of the inequality women still face across North America today. Girls and women alike should feel free to wear whatever they want – a freedom currently only afforded to boys and men.

This is not just a trend within the education system, but one that continues into the workplace. Women are constantly reprimanded for being dressed “inappropriately.” The real problem here is that women’s rights are being infringed upon while men’s rights are not, and simply because men “can’t focus” when a woman’s shirt shows some of her breasts.

This is the 21st century, isn’t it? Whether you are a girl in the 8th grade, or a woman working in an office filled with men, you have every right to wear whatever you want while still accessing the same education and the same employment opportunities as boys and men.

Featured image courtesy of Watch Pretty Little Liars via Flickr


  1. If anything is true. It’s that women are allowed to wear whatever they want. This is not a popular opinion, but women are the ones who dress in extremely sexually suggestive ways , not men.


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