In late March, word got out that an Illinois middle school that had banned leggings (a fairly common practice), openly cited the primary reason as being “distracting” to male peers.
The school is yet another entry on a long list instances in which academic institutions are tightening up their dress codes. Asides from the obvious issues of both sexualizing middle school girls’ bodies and placing blame upon them for something out of their control, what is this telling us about the bigger picture? Or about society’s willingness to objectify females, even in the classroom? NYU Local spoke to Margaret C. Smiley, president of the Feminist Society at NYU, and she offered up some insight on why the problem seems so prevalent lately, how it affects those involved, and ultimately, how to fix it.
NYU Local: Why do you think schools are taking such particular interest in their female dress codes and becoming so strict?
Smiley: I think there has always been strict policy on girl’s clothing across the nation, but it adapts with changing times.
If it’s not mini-skirts, its tube tops, and now leggings…I think what has changed this time around, though, is the dialogue surrounding these events. We now have the proper words and vernacular, such as slut-shaming to point out why this is such bad policy. Read more…