Skirt length: an inappropriate and harmful rule

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Skirt length: an inappropriate and harmful rule

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It is inevitable. That moment when our bodies are no longer a grouping of limbs connected by muscles and veins, but instead objects of sex. Society treats female puberty as an invitation for harassment.  BSS bathes in their own hypocrisy as they perpetuate the same values, which they claim to reject. Our idea of feminism is outdated, recycling the tired message of “[inspiring] girls to be fearless, [educating] girls to be leaders.” Yet, this success and education comes to a harsh halt when our skirt lengths, supposedly, cause our peers and teachers to become distracted.  Not only is this rule sexist, but its execution is also aggressive and humiliating, causing students to feel uncomfortable in their own learning environment.

As adolescents, our bodies are continuously changing. Everyday, from the media to street harassers, we are made aware of our appearances. Therefore, shouldn’t BSS offer an environment that promotes comfort and security, not fear? Students keep finding themselves hurt and angered by this unjust rule. Our traditional values, which are reflected through this skirt length rule perpetuate rape culture. As a school, we are encouraging this misogynistic belief that a woman’s clothing can warrant assault and disrespect. It is these rules that allow Judges, such as Robin Camp, to believe it is valid to ask a rape victim, “Why couldn’t you just keep your knees together?.” Furthermore, the execution of this rule humiliates students. It is argued that our obsession with this rule portrays us as superficial, as if we only care about unimportant and solvable issues. However, it is rather difficult to ignore a problem that yells at you in the hallways. Students are penalized for having body parts that society has deemed inappropriate. A Grade 12, who chooses to remain anonymous, recalls an incident only a few weeks ago. When attempting to complete work in her science class, her teacher began questioning her, wondering when she last got her skirt length checked. She responded, claiming it was approved by teachers in house, however, the teacher persisted, causing the student to cry. She felt belittled and shamed in front of her peers. Granted, teachers are merely enforcing the rules, however, it is the manner in which they do so that causes this pain and embarrassment.  In addition, we are told that this rule is in our conduct, and there is no use in fighting against it. But, it was once law that women should not vote, therefore, it is essential we remember that just because a belief is normalized, does not make it just or ethical.

To conclude, BSS should inspire us to defeat chauvinistic ideals and educate us to know that our worth goes beyond the length of our skirts. My hope is to exist without my clothes jeopardizing my safety. My hope is to receive respect because of my character, not my skirt length. My hope is to be seen as a student, not a distraction.