Fuck the Dress Code

Fuck a dress code. Fuck listening to men telling me what I can and cannot wear. Fuck being sexualized by students and administrators alike. Fuck supporting a patriarchal concept in place for the benefit of a man at the detriment of a woman. Fuck abiding by institutional sexism. Fuck being silent. Fuck being complacent. Fuck being a sexual object. Fuck my principal for making me change because my shorts were too short. Fuck him for making me feel like I was the problem rather than the boys cat-calling me. Fuck the American school system for priming both young boys and girls to accept the idea that women need to cover up rather than teaching men how to respect the autonomy of a woman’s body. Fuck taking the easy way out. Fuck not even trying. Fuck the patriarchy. Fuck a dress code.

I am angry. I am angry at the administrators who tell me I cannot wear spaghetti straps or clothing that exposes the midriff. Who tell me I cannot wear shorts more than 3 inches above my knees. Well, I have news for you. It’s not the spaghetti straps, crop-tops, or shorts that are serving as distractions. It’s my shoulders. It’s my ass. It’s my body. The very same body I am expected to love yet demanded to cover. School dress codes reinforce the idea that women are sexual objects, distracting men from their studies.

Dress codes need to be abolished, and to do so is to demand a culture shift. We need to start asking crucial questions like: Why do my shoulders distract you? Why must I change to alleviate this distraction? Why are girls sent to the office about dress code violations disproportionately more than boys? As Tarana Burke says: “Culture shift happens in the public grappling with these questions.” Asking these questions is the first step to a culture shift. A shift away from supporting a patriarchy and in favor of supporting equality. The second step is answering these questions.

My shoulders possibly distract you because the female body has been historically objectified, where “woman means sexualized rather than sexuality” (Resilience Williamson). Maybe I must change because Uncle Sam is “seizing my vagina with his politics as he legislates it into no-man’s land” (Resilience Williamson). Maybe girls are sent to the office more often than boys because the dress code targets women rather than men.

Society has not bothered to “grapple” with these questions, so “nobody has firm, definitive, perfect answers” (Burke). Even my own answers are unsure, ridden with “possibly’s” and “maybe’s.” As we ask more questions and find more answers, I believe it will become apparent that the dress code needs to be abolished. In my perfect world, schools would have a banner saying: “Fuck a dress code.” This sounds far-fetched to me. But then again, Tarana Burke said it’s okay to have wild, out-of-this world visions. That’s what makes a movement.