4 Clothing Items Schools Should Ban So Girls Don’t Look Like “Prostitutes” (Double participation)

Published October 11, 2014 by djlwsu

How does the below article through satire reflect on both stereotype and privilege as it relates to this school dress code policy

4 Clothing Items Schools Should Ban So Girls Don’t Look Like “Prostitutes”

5493602848_7de36ce17a_zIn response to some girls wearing leggings, jeggings and tight jeans to class, a school in Devils Lake, North Dakota, responded calmly and reasonably by insinuating that the girls’ clothing made them look like prostitutes and banning the pants in question. A controversial, reaction perhaps, but the school officials’ hearts are in the right place; after all, they don’t want the girls to dress like prostitutes.

Just kidding. The reaction was totally ridiculous.

The assistant principal told local news site ValleyNewsLive.com that all of the girls were made to watch two clips from Pretty Woman to garner a better understanding of the problem with their attire. In the first clip, the protagonist, Vivian, who is a prostitute, goes shopping on Rodeo Drive wearing a midriff-baring ensemble and tall boots with a sweater tied around her waist. People stare at her on the street and the sales associates at the store she enters snub her and tell her to leave. They both judge her character based on her clothes and embarrass her (surprise surprise) much like the officials at the North Dakota school. In the next scene, Vivian is dressed in an extravagant and conservative white dress and hat, beaming as people turn to look at her. She goes back to the same store to “show up” the women who had snubbed her before. The scene ends and Vivian has “won,” because she was able to dress like a “respectable lady.”

Not only is this shaming tactic distasteful and damaging (and teaches girls that prostitutes must be bad, evil people), but the school officials missed one big glaring contradiction that gums up their entire scheme: In both movie clips, people stared at Vivian regardless of what she was wearing. Whether she was showing lots of skin or wearing a fashionable dress, others were distracted by her. It seems like women and girls just can’t win!

Perhaps school officials across the country haven’t gone far enough in preventing girls from dressing like sex workers (and protecting boys from the fashionable distractions girls wear to school; the officials in North Dakota cited the girls’ outfits as an unwelcome and disruptive distraction for boys and male teachers). So here at Ms, where we like to be ahead of the curve, we’ve come up with our own list of things schools should ban to protect boys and men from having to attend school with harlots:

1. Button-up shirts

Now, many will wonder: Hey, what’s wrong with a nice button-up shirt? To which I reply: Button-ups are sneaky like that. They may look non-threatening and conservative on the surface, but if a girl wears a button-up shirt to school where there are boys, what’s going to stop those boys from imagining the buttons being undone? Not the button-up, I tell you! In order to stop boys from undressing girls with their eyes, girls should be made to wear clothing that looks like it can never come off.

2. Oversized sweaters

Some of these girls go to class wearing retro, hipster-style oversized sweaters with abrasive, non-alluring patterns. You would think that would be enough. But some of those floppy sweaters are big enough to fit two! What will the boys be thinking? Think of it. Just think of it.

3. Earmuffs

There’s no argument here: These accessories are obscene, plain and simple. They have the word “muff” in them for heaven’s sake!

4. Long hair

For centuries in the West, long, luscious hair has been culturally associated with women and femininity—and now’s it’s in our schools. We can’t have our strapping young boys suffocating from the “feminized” atmosphere that now clogs the hallowed halls of grade schools. Ladies, time to chop off all those long locks! Buzz cuts should be the word of the day for all girl students. That’ll keep the boys from ogling.

Sadly, it seems like there’s nothing girls can wear that will stop the boys in their classes from staring. Or rather, it seems like there’s nothing girls can wear that will stop the teachers from obsessing over whether or not the boys may or may not be possibly staring at the girls. Perhaps for the next school year, school officials should mandate that all girls wear clean, conservative sacks (no logos of course) that show that these girls respect themselves enough to let principals and deans make them wear sacks. But we must be careful that the sacks aren’t too colorful—nothing below a frequency of 606 THz. Then maybe, just maybe, our teachers and school officials will finallybe able to focus on actually teaching the girls instead of staring at their bodies.

READ MORE: Dress Codes for Girls: Are Teachers the New Objectifiers?

Photo courtesy of Flickr user JannaHughes licensed under Creative Commons 2.0.


Corinne Gaston is an editorial intern at Ms. Follow her on Twitter @elysehamsa or go to her personal blog.


10 comments on “4 Clothing Items Schools Should Ban So Girls Don’t Look Like “Prostitutes” (Double participation)

  • This article uses satire to try to show just how ridiculous this problem is. There have been many people that have tried to address this growing problem, some approach the problem in a serious manner, some people approach this with sarcasm and satire. The article uses satire as an advantage, they say that button-up shirts, oversize sweaters, earmuffs, and long hair should also be banned from schools because it makes boys think about unbuttoning a button-up shirt, imagining themselves in the oversize sweater with the girl, and feminizing women for having long hair. Men have the privilege to (within reason) to wear pretty much whatever they want without having a shaming. Boys are the reason girls cannot wear what they would like, the girls always get blamed for the boys’ reactions. This is not just a problem at this particular school, it’s a problem all over the country.


  • I have read similar cases of dress code abuse in the past few months that are happening all over the country. As well as have heard it has happened at my sister’s old middle school – banning leggings because boys get sent to the nurse’s office too frequently with boners. That blame shouldn’t be put on the girl’s clothing or the girls themselves. All this does is teach girls, at a young vulnerable age, that it’s their fault for what they were wearing. This sets up the “she was asking for it” campaign, arguing that women who were dressed as “skants” and “prostitutes” asked for it when they were raped. Girls need to be taught that it isn’t their fault if they are raped, stared at, or if they distract boys. If the schools are so worried about the boys being distracted by clothing then maybe they should reevaluate their teaching curriculum in order to keep the attention on schoolwork and not on what girls are wearing. These types of policies teach children that girls and women should cover themselves for the sake of others, teaching them that they should be ashamed of their bodies, setting them up for a life of self-consciousness and a belief that they are inferior to men. Girls need to be taught when they are young that they are just as important, smart and have just as much potential as boys. Not that they need to be conservative in order to insure that boys get the schooling they need. Girls and boys deserve the same opportunity to learn, and if girls are constantly worried about whether or not boys, or their teachers, are staring at them then they won’t be able to focus on school and will continue to fall behind and continue to blame themselves.


    • Exceptional analysis: “All this does is teach girls, at a young vulnerable age, that it’s their fault for what they were wearing. This sets up the “she was asking for it” campaign, arguing that women who were dressed as “skants” and “prostitutes” asked for it when they were raped. Girls need to be taught that it isn’t their fault if they are raped, stared at, or if they distract boys. If the schools are so worried about the boys being distracted by clothing then maybe they should reevaluate their teaching curriculum in order to keep the attention on schoolwork and not on what girls are wearing.”


  • this article made me think of how mostly everyone around the world seemed to be fine with men dressing up with their skins showing. i have encountered a lot of males with tank tops and shorts in public and no one seemed to be having a problem with it, what amazed me was when a women comes in the store with tank tops and short shorts, everyone nods their heads or judges the person by how the women dressed thinking that she is a “slut” or “prostitute”. This didn’t seem to be fair towards women, they should have the same rights as men if they want to show skin they should be allowed to, the people judging the person by how the women dresses or looks should be the ones who should be judged. just because women has breasts and a bigger hip than a male does’t mean that they should cover it up all the time.


  • In my opinion, girls have many more restrictions when it comes to dress code than boys do. Boys can wear shorts, tank tops, and hats without being given a second look. Girls are more commonly judged on their clothing choices. If a girl wears shorts she can either be labelled as a “slut” or a “fashion genius”. Like the article said, its a no win world in the category of dress-choice for girls. Schools have every right to restrict certain clothing because it may be distasteful in educational schools but classifying girls as “prostitutes” for wearing certain clothing is disrespectful and demeaning to girls. Establishing clothing restrictions in a respectful and appropriate way is acceptable but it becomes inacceptable when vulgar words are thrown at girls who wear the restricted clothing.


  • I personally find it to be extremely interesting how easy it is for a girl to be labeled as a “whore” or “slut” based simply off of what she wears. But the most ridiculous thing in society is that guys aren’t judged at all with regards to what they wear besides sometimes whether or not they have money. I’ve never heard of a guy being called a “whore” or “slut” simply based off of what he wears but girls are judged fully off of stereotypes when they reveal “too much skin”. Guys can wear shorts, tank tops, sandals, and simply show as much skin as they legally want without being judged at all. I believe that in this article they try to use satire with the given situation to show just how ridiculous a judgmental society can be. When the author suggests the articles of clothing that woman should wear they suggest ear-muffs, long sweatshirts, and button-up shirts in order to try and use comedy and satire to their advantage to express their thoughts on this video.


  • I feel like there is always a double standard for women. We aren’t allowed to act or dress in a certain way because that would be labeled as “scandalous”. On the other hand, men are allowed to wear whatever they want and that would be acceptable. I went to a private school so they would make us wear uniforms in order for us all to look united. They would also check the length of our skirts before we walk into school to make sure it wasn’t too short. Our skirts were not allowed to pass our knees. Everyday I felt disturbed because the school faculty’s eyes were always on us and making sure our skirts weren’t too short. The boys however were never checked even though some would show up without wearing our school shirt because they were “going to put it on later”. There’s a lot more pressure for women on how they dress, and it shouldn’t be that way. No matter what women wear, men will always have the freewill to look and think however and whatever they want.


  • I agree with Professor Leonard. Being a female, you’re automatically being judged by what you wear and your outward looks. Such as long hair, body image, and over all being attractive to ones eye. In my opinion this school had a great intent on females dressing appropriately to find respect for themselves in their school and also males being distracted. But, their approach was all wrong. Blaming females for their attire isn’t the problem neither is a boy finding a female attractive. It’s the action behind the attraction.


  • In this society, women do have to live with double standards and I also do agree with Professor Leonard. They want girls to be at fault for boy getting distracted. Some guys have their butts hanging out of their pants and even though few people tell them to pull their pants up, they keep doing it. Is that distracting? Hell yes. No one wants to see how low guys could sag their pants. But when it comes to girls, they are inspected- piece by piece, on what they wear, how they are wearing it and whether or not it distracts people. And I definitely don’t agree with the school having all girls watch the two clips from Pretty Woman, because after all, it’s only a movie. Instead of teaching girls to dress properly and banning clothes, schools should teach boys to not sexually harass. When boys find girls attractive, it’s not usually because of the clothes that they are wearing.


  • It is understandable that teachers and school official try to prevent guys being attracted by girls. They want their kids focus on academic. However, they are trying too hard from sexual attraction rather than putting efforts on teaching right moral and education. Also, it is inevitable that human will be attracted and distracted by opposite sex. This is normal process of human development. Furthermore, people should not be labeled as whore, prostitute just based on their outfit. Choosing what to wear is a basic human right. Nevertheless, the social construction is filled with stereotype. It is really hard to change people’s prejudice.


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