Chicago School Bans Girls’ Leggings Because NO BOY SHOULD EVER BE DISTRACTED
Girls wearing leggings at Haven Middle School in Chicago started hearing from school officials that their clothing choices were inappropriate. The dress code, apparently, doesn’t allow form-fitting clothes unless they’re accompanied by a skirt or shorts or towel or barrel with straps or cape so as to protect their modesty. While it’s far from the first time girls have been shamed for their clothing choices, this particular incident has raised the ire of some parents, including Juliet and Kevin Bond. In a letter to Kathy Roberson, Haven’s principal, the Bonds wrote “This policy clearly shifts the blame for boy’s behavior or lack of academic concentration, directly onto the girls.”
So, first of all, can we take a step back here and acknowledge how bananas it is to punish girls for boys’ inattentiveness? That’s like arresting Superman because Lex Luthor built a sun-destroying laser. Would he have been angry and bitter enough to build said laser without Superman around? Probably not, but why would that in any way alter the hero/ villain dynamics of the situation?
“Maybe you shouldn’t have spent all that time flying’ around, inspiring humanity, huh?”
Roberson said that the dress code hasn’t been changed, only that old policies are just now starting to be enforced, but even so, the Bonds’ letter seems to have been effective. A Haven school advisory board is getting together next week to discuss the dress code.
And man, that would be a great meeting to sit in on. One of the great joys is listening to mature adults stumble their way through discussions about teenager’s clothes.
“Now are these ‘leggings’ painted on, or —”
“No Bill, they’re fabric. Like regular pants.”
“Where do they buy ’em? From outer space?”
“No Bill, some leggings just have galaxies printed on them. There are actually a bunch of different designs.”
“Can I wear these here ‘leggings’ out fishing?”
In their letter, the Bonds asked Roberson to “consider the impact of these policies and how they contribute to rape culture”. Now, it’s the intangibility of rape culture is what makes it such a hard problem to solve — anytime the conversation is brought up, we all start looking for problems to solve. Sure, there are villains who go out and ATTEMPT to shame women, but they’re so clearly wrong it’s easy to dismiss their viewpoint.
“Now folks, we should increase our town’s railroad budget! I’ve seen up-close the state of disrepair those tracks are in, having tied so many women to them and all.”
But you can’t “beat” rape culture because there are a lot of really smart, wonderful people who do or say things that hurt others without realizing it. When we’re accused of something we recognize as distasteful, like sexism, it can be easy to feel like we have become one of those cartoonish villains. Since no one wants that, we defend ourselves against that perception.
But it’s these small, seemingly insignificant moments — like banning leggings at school — that add up to create culture. I can’t imagine anyone at Haven Middle School is actively trying to make these girls feel bad about themselves, and but in this instance, they’ve made a mistake. That shows that there is no binary — good people can be hurtful and villains can inspire good. The only way to control whether we’re a positive or negative influence in the world is to constantly analyze our way of thinking. Then, when we discover flaws, we have to work to change them, not defend them.
And then, suddenly, we’re living a more well-examined life, the benefits of which are immeasurable.
Maybe leggings are ideal to wear out fishing.
But realy though, how does anyone get leggings on? Let me know on Twitter — @mikeyfromsu — or in the comments below.