SOCI 1101 Dakota College at Bottineau Sociology Essay




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SOCI 1101

Dress Codes: A Misandrist Approach

For a moment imagine that you are back in high school. Now imagine that you are a

female who is currently sitting in the principal’s office. “The reason?”, you might ask. You wore

a shirt that was too revealing. “Well, what was I wearing?”, another reasonable question to

consider. You just so happened to be wearing a tank top that revealed your shoulders.

Astounded? You should be. Not only was your shirt considered too revealing, but you are also

now having to go home for the rest of the day causing you to miss out on valuable educational

material. As if this wasn’t enough, you are now placed on a list to count the number of times you

wear “revealing” clothing items to school so that in the future you may be suspended and, in

some cases, kicked out of school. All of this seems unreasonable, and frankly hard to believe,

but, in fact, this happens to females everyday throughout American schools. So why has society

allowed these misogynistic dress codes to be enforced and when will they be banned?

According to Leah Shields “Data shows in March, 90 percent of dress code violations at

Bartram Trail High School were for girls” the article continues on to state that “For the entire

school year up until about February, 83 percent of dress code violations at nearly all the schools

were for girls” (Shields 2021: para 2). In another article titled The Issue with Dress Codes by Ary

Eagen, it states that “The majority (56.1%) of respondents said they have not been dress coded,

but 43.9% reported that they have. 79.3% of the respondents stated they knew a female peer that

has been dress coded, 3.7% said they knew a boy, 11% said they knew no one that has, 4% said

they knew people of both sexes that have been dress coded” (Eagen 2020: para 13).


In American society it has become an everyday occurrence that females are sent home for

wearing clothes that are deemed “too revealing” or inappropriate for school. Dress codes in

America are not supposed to be discriminatory in any way. However, it seems that school

systems have found a way to implement discriminatory rules in accordance with federal

legislation. According to J. N. Martin & J. N. Brooks, school dress codes should not be used to

directly discriminate on the basis of race or sex, but, often, the rules in place do appear to target

specific students through coded language (Martin and Brooks 2020). J. N. Martin and J. N.

Brooks go on to state that dress code language that polices and sexualizes female bodies is a

form of victim blaming, insinuating that certain forms of dress are distractions to learning

(Martin and Brooks 2020). With this being said, it is hard to see how these rules have been able

to slip through the system with no push back from political leaders.

Even though there seems to be no pollical push back for dress codes, there have been a

great deal of resistance from students and parents alike. In an article titled Sexualization, Sex

Discrimination, and Public School Dress Codes, author M. J. Harbach states that “Students,

parents, and others have a number of concerns about public school dress codes and their impact

on female students” she continues with “Female students are powerfully affected by these

policies and many express a profound sense of injustice. The consequences of being “dress

coded” have a negative impact on student learning and participation. Beyond the immediate

disruption resulting from removal, detention, and the like, studies suggest that a preoccupation

with physical appearance based on sexualized norms disrupts mental capacity and cognitive

function” (Harbach 2016: 1043). With this being said, it seems that the push back from parents

and students themselves is necessary.


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