Dress codes have always been a constant topic of discussion which seem to spark tension among people, especially teenagers. The biggest issue with dress codes in schools is the sexist behavior they portray.
Gender-neutral dress codes are how everyone should think nowadays, because it is common to see males and females not abiding by the supposed “gender standards.” Yet these dress codes are outdated.
It seems only females get punished for wearing something “a little too revealing” or “a little too distracting.” This is wrong, because the excuse for sending students home is usually centered on the fact that their appearance is a distraction to boys. It would be a different story if both genders were treated equally in schools.
It seems the goal of some dress codes is to prevent males from raping females. While it is imperative to have females learn to protect themselves, what they wear is not the issue. They should be free to wear what they want — it is the perpetrator who should be the one punished for raping or sexually harassing someone, because rape is rape and should not be taken lightly — regardless of fashion style.
Why not teach people not to rape or assault people? It makes no sense to spend time talking about what to wear and what not to when people are going to wear what they want regardless. A good example of this is the Everfi Haven lessons mandatory for every USD student to watch. This is getting the message out that sexual assault and rape is wrong. What is also important about these videos is the fact that they are gender-neutral and give students insight through both genders, which indicate these things can happen to anyone.
It is also foolish to assume males always know how to defend themselves, because they can be victims of rape as well. The mindset that what females wear is only a distraction to males is extremely generalized, because not all males get distracted by what a girl is wearing. Similarly, what a boy is wearing could easily cause a girl to become distracted.
Dress codes are condoning a sexist system.
People can wear what they want, and they should not get blamed for getting raped if they did not abide by societal dress norms. The victim may not have even been wearing revealing clothing. No one deserves to get raped or sexually assaulted, and assuming boys are protected and girls have to be covered from head to toe does not convey a good message.
Lessons such as Everfi Haven’s can help people realize that teaching people about wearing certain clothes does not condone rape, and that regardless of what anyone does or whatever anyone is wearing, raping is wrong. If an education system wants to protect students, they need to better communicate to its students that raping is wrong, keeping in mind both females and males can be victims and no one can assume one thing about one gender and another about the other.
Truthfully, education systems cannot always help a student in situations such as rape by making them go home to change their clothing. Everfi Haven helps students think about different situations they could encounter, whether they are the victim or not. Adding this as an imperative aspect to teaching can help so much more than enforcing an unnecessary dress code students rarely follow anyway.
If USD students, who are nearing adulthood, are now being taught about rape culture and the importance of it, there is clearly a problem with the way grades below are taught, or lack thereof. Learning about this at a younger age and disregarding the assumption that clothes can trigger rape can really influence stronger knowledge of the importance of preventing and the severity of rape.