Dangers of Dress Code

October 13, 2016


I was 11 the first time I heard the phrase “modest is hottest.” Heading to a church retreat, where I should feel most safe, I was forewarned to cover my pre-pubescent body with a t-shirt over my swimsuit before entering the pool. Fears of inspiring lust in boys’ minds swam through my head; I complied.

I didn’t blame the boys for impure thoughts or actions. Dress code implies what he sees, he can touch. If a man looks at, speaks to or touches a woman in an inappropriate way, it’s not his fault — he’s just acting according to his nature.

Dress codes in schools, churches and workplaces are prominent across the country with rules on no collarbones showing, two-inch holes in jeans and shoulders being “properly covered.” These rules are mostly targeted at women, because boys simply cannot control their minds and bodies after laying eyes on thigh skin seen through threads of jean fabric. Maybe because of the sensitization of skin through 13 years of public schooling, men get a culture shock in college between the Nike running shorts and leggings. It’s just too much. Maybe this is the reason that one in four women is raped on college campuses, according oneinfour.org.

People equip their homes with security systems to ward off robberies, yet on college campuses, for every robbery, there are two rapes. Furthermore, according to the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), only 20% of sexual assaults in college are reported to law enforcement.

These rapes and sexual assaults are the result of years of oppression and shame. Women are fearful and told they are responsible for controlling male thoughts, so they are afraid to report the incidences. They are made to feel as if there is nothing they can do to control men’s minds. Women believe speaking out will not change anything, but men are also conditioned to believe they will not get in trouble.

Until the problem of degrading women into feeling ashamed of their bodies through extreme dress codes is resolved, these long-term, high-risk outcomes will not go away. Women deserve to feel comfortable with themselves, no matter if their clothing choice for the day would meet a high school dress code or not. Men also need to know they have a responsibility to respect women regardless of their attire.  Women deserve rights disregarding all outside factors, and we deserve to have justice when those rights are violated.


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