Bluenoses in Bad Faith

What Amanda says:

At my high school, the belief was that boys lost their ability to perform well in school if they saw more than an inch above a girl’s knee, and in some more religiously conservative communities, general thinking goes that a glimpse of hair is enough to terminate male concentration completely. Regardless of where you draw the line, of course, the argument remains the same: Girls are responsible not only for their own school performance but also for the boys’. Some, such as Lahey, may mistake this as a form of feminism by dressing the complaint up as merely a desire to teach the girls some self-respect, but I have a different word for the notion that a woman loses her claim to respect if she shows an overt interest in sexuality: sexism.

Lahey claims that she only wishes for girls to see that they “are not the measure of their hemlines, but the sum of their strong minds, kind hearts, and unlimited potential.” That’s a noble goal that I fully support. I recommend that Lahey start sending the message that she doesn’t measure girls by their hemlines by not measuring them by their hemlines. Try ignoring their bodies completely and getting directly to the work of cherishing those minds and those hearts instead. As L.V. Anderson noted here recently, most of them will get tired of playing around with the tacky clothes you hate so much anyway.

Whenever there’s an authoritarian bluenose enforcing some trivial rule or making a judgment based on fashion trivia, there’s generally a claim that it’s not that the bluenose cares about this stuff, it’s that society cares about this stuff and we must learn to get along. Not only is the best remedy to just no care about this stuff, roughly 99.9% of the time the bluenose in question does in fact care deeply about whatever trivia they’re forcing people to comply with.

348 comments on this post.
  1. jeer9:

    I

    Whenever in this city, screens flicker
    with pornography, with science-fiction vampires,
    victimized hirelings bending to the lash,
    we also have to walk…if simply as we walk
    through the rainsoaked garbage, the tabloid cruelties
    of our own neighborhoods.
    We need to grasp our lives inseparable
    from those rancid dreams, that blurt of metal, those disgraces,
    and the red begonia perilously flashing
    from a tenement sill six stories high,
    or the long-legged young girls playing ball
    in the junior highschool playground.
    No one has imagined us. We want to live like trees,
    sycamores blazing through the sulfuric air,
    dappled with scars, still exuberantly budding,
    our animal passion rooted in the city.

    Adrienne Rich

  2. rea:

    I thought “Blue Noses in Bad Faith” would be another post about cod fishing, but apparently not . . .

  3. joe from Lowell:

    I recommend that Lahey start sending the message that she doesn’t measure girls by their hemlines by not measuring them by their hemlines.

    Sort of like John Roberts’ “The way to stop discriminating on the basis of race is to not discriminate on the basis of race.”

    Same problem: the dynamics that dress codes in school/affirmative action are meant to address are not those among teachers/government officials, but among the student population/society as a whole.

    The other similarity is the claim that having a rule about skirt length is “measuring them by their hemlines,” which echoes that claim that having an affirmative action program is “judging people by their race.”

  4. joe from Lowell:

    Not only is the best remedy to just no care about this stuff

    Hey, 7th grade boys: stop caring about this stuff. You stop caring out it right now.

    You too, 7th grade girls: you’re to stop caring about how others dress right this minute.

    There. Problem solved.

  5. LosGatosCA:

    You are probably correct in her motivation, as she mentions near the top ‘her right not to see underwear.’ And then mentions underwear two more times. Not that I’m thinking Lahey might be a little obsessed with the girl’s underwear. Much.

  6. Stag Party Palin:

    I can only speak for myself, but as a boy I found those long plaid skirts the girls from the parochial school wore very sexy. Also their socks, shoes, shirts/blouses and bobby pins.

    Well, that’s over. I no longer feel that way about teen and pre-teen girls. However, the clothes that those 40 and 50 year old women wear – wow. Talk about teh sexxxy!!

    Effing hormones – how do they work?

  7. Mike F.:

    Indeed. The 7th grade was the (downward) turning point.
    I’m convinced that the jumpers and patent leather shoes the girls wore ruined my ability to learn anything and made me an idiot.

  8. c u n d gulag:

    Well, to tell you the truth, I kind of lost that track of what we were learning in Math class in 10th grade back in the early 70′s, because all during that class I was watching this really cute cheerleader “fill-out” from what seemed like week-to-week, sometimes even day-to-day, and fantasizing about her.

    And, since the new math you’re being taught is based on what you just learned, I never picked-up the thread again, and sucked at math for the remainder of HS.

    It had nothing to do with the fact that I sucked at math in every grade up to 10th.
    And that she was also in my Honors English and History classes.
    NUH-UH!
    I sucked at math because it was all her fault. I never got the answers right, because all I could think of, was round numbers!!!

    On a serious note, Lahey’s an idiot, and what she’s saying isn’t at all different from, “THAT SLUT! If she wasn’t dressed so provocatively, I never would have raped her, Your Honor!”

  9. joe from Lowell:

    Oh, is that what happened to you? I’ve always wondered.

    I was wondering how long it was going to take someone who hasn’t been in a middle school classroom in decades to comment how ridiculous it is for me to think that students are distracted by what others wear, and that the boys are particularly prone to distraction by the girls’ appearance.

    Hey, Mr. Snarky: wanna guess what I do for a living?

  10. c u n d gulag:

    I was waiting for Lahey to talk about how girls shouldn’t wear patent leather shoes, either!

  11. Scott Lemieux:

    Sort of like John Roberts’ “The way to stop discriminating on the basis of race is to not discriminate on the basis of race.”

    Except that affirmative action does remedy the real injustices of past discrimination (however imperfectly), while obsessing about hemlines doesn’t actually accomplish anything useful while it reinforces gender stereotypes.

  12. Scott Lemieux:

    The idea that heterosexual boys will stop noticing how girls look as long as hemlines stay above an arbitrary length is…highly unpersuasive.

  13. donna:

    Actually that was totally my goal in college. Sit in the front of my engineering classes in short shorts and halter tops, then blow the hell out of the curve acing the tests. Worked like a charm.

  14. joe from Lowell:

    obsessing about hemlines doesn’t actually accomplish anything useful

    Oh, look, the college professor who hasn’t been in a middle school classroom in decades assures me that students being distracted by others’ clothing is a non-issue.

    Phew. That’s good to know.

    while it reinforces gender stereotypes

    You know, unlike middle-school peer pressure about clothing, which doesn’t ever reinforce gender stereotypes.

  15. joe from Lowell:

    The idea that this is an all-or-nothing matter is a great deal less persuasive.

    Yes, Scott, as it turns out, the way you dress does influence your appearance, and how others react to it. Even in middle school.

  16. joe from Lowell:

    while it reinforces gender stereotypes

    In the same way that affirmative action reinforces racial stereotypes?

  17. Rarely Posts:

    Personally, I think there are significant advantages to having school dress codes and/or uniforms for kids. However, it’s got to be similarly strict for the boys and girls, and I always buck at comments like this: “the boys are particularly prone to distraction by the girls’ appearance.” As Amanda points out, that’s arguing that girls need to dress differently because the boys can’t be expected to control themselves. Whether or not there’s any truth to that, it’s a sexist lesson to teach to both the boys and girls.

    I’d also express skepticism because, when I was a kid, the girls seemed far more obsessed about their clothes and each others’ clothes than the boys did. True, the boys were often obsessed with the girls and their bodies, but it did not make a big difference how precisely the girls dressed. For example, if a girl had large breasts, certain boys would talk about that ad nauseum regardless of how she covered them.

    In my opinion, the best arguments in favor of dress codes and/or uniforms don’t focus on sex and sexual distraction. Rather, they focus on preparing kids for professional jobs, most careers (where they will be limited in what they can wear), and encouraging kids to focus on things other than commercialized competition through clothing. I recognize that there are strong counter-arguments (particularly to the last), but at least those reasons are not obviously and fundamentally sexist. And, the strongest counter-arguments recognize that a certain amount of parentalism is inherent in schools for people under the legal age of maturity (here, 18).

  18. Djur:

    Congratulations: in a single post, you’ve managed to outdo that entire thread where you obsessed over the meaning of ‘profit’.

  19. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    I read that yesterday. Wish I hadn’t. Can’t say often enough that I as a woman am not in charge of policing men’s sex drives.

    I was a cheerleader in middle school. Often wore the short skirt to school. Don’t recall the world exploding. Or any boys either, for that matter.

  20. Djur:

    I can say without a doubt that the girls who ‘distracted’ me the most in school did not tend to dress in a way that would fall afoul of any reasonable dress code — and it wasn’t for lack of opportunity.

  21. Origami Isopod:

    Oh, how terrible, “science-fiction vampires.” Then again I’m not surprised that a transphobic second waver would disdain s/f and fantasy as genres.

  22. Rob:

    Well it apparently causes some teachers to freak out

  23. Origami Isopod:

    ^ This.

    Maybe if parents actually taught their little GoldenSons™ respect for women and girls (as in, respect as people, not the madonna/whore complex), they’d be able to handle their early hormonal years a little better.

  24. joe from Lowell:

    In my comment here (You too, 7th grade girls: you’re to stop caring about how others dress right this minute.), I was attempting to address the point you make about competition.

    However, it’s got to be similarly strict for the boys and girls, and I always buck at comments like this: “the boys are particularly prone to distraction by the girls’ appearance.”

    The difference between what boys wear within a dress code, and without it, doesn’t seem to make much of a difference in terms of how distracting their appearance is to the girls, at least in terms of making them more attractive. A young man in a dress shirt and slacks is often more attractive to girls than one in, say, sweat pants and a concert T-shirt. Whereas longer skirts and higher neck lines actually do serve to make girls less distracting to boys. That was the distinction I was trying to make with the term “particularly prone to distraction by the girls’ appearance,” which I guess I could have fleshed out more clearly.

  25. joe from Lowell:

    I trust if you had a counter-argument to anything I wrote, we would have seen it by now.

    Thank you very much for noting that my comments are written by me, and that have a grudge against me. It really drives the discussion forward.

  26. Origami Isopod:

    Affirmative action gives people of color the chances that white society never gave them.

    Policing girls’ hemlines… gives them what, precisely? IMHO it gives them the burden of responsibility for boys’ behavior. Just like they’ve always been given.

  27. joe from Lowell:

    And that’s the only thing it ever does.

    Certainly, students don’t ever notice each other, how they look, or how they dress.

    (I have to admire your ideological discipline in insisting that this doesn’t happen, despite how obviously wrong you are.)

  28. RepubAnon:

    It’s interesting how the dynamic changes if one substitutes, say, a guy wearing a Rolex for a female’s “suggestive” clothing. If someone sees a well-dressed man wearing a Rolex, slugs him, and takes his wallet and watch – very few conservatives blame the man for causing the thief to experience “irresistible urges” to commit a crime. Instead, they blame the thief for a lack of impulse control.

    Being distracted by sex is part of the human teenage experience. Learning to deal with these distractions through self-control is an important educational goal.

    Blaming one’s lack of impulse control on others, and seeking to control one’s own impulses by imposing restrictions on the behavior of others, is not something that the schools should be teaching. When these kids get out into the business world, they’ll quickly find that blaming one’s behavior on the attractiveness of one’s victim is either not tolerated, or very expensive, or both.

  29. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    Yeah. It seems like no matter the societal ill people are skreeing to address, somehow women/girls are always responsible–ultimately–for making things right. How the fuck is that fair?

  30. joe from Lowell:

    Think about it in terms of an arms race.

  31. Gone2Ground:

    Obsessing about teen clothing choices seems like a huge waste of time for an educator, not to mention conveying about 50 different negative messages to both genders.

    I would wonder if she even bothered to ask “the boys” if they were “distracted” or if she just assumed. And everyone knows about “assume.”

  32. Djur:

    “You are all fools for thinking this way because I’M THERE and I KNOW THE TRUTH” isn’t an argument, so it doesn’t deserve a counter-argument.

  33. Dagchester:

    Let them dress as they wish !!

  34. sparks:

    Am I ever glad I went to school in the ’70s in California. Nobody cared, not even the teachers and administrators. Some of the most affluent girls in my class dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, and the only time most dressed up was at school/social functions. This did not stop me looking at the goods, either.

  35. joe from Lowell:

    Maybe if parents actually taught their little GoldenSons™ respect for women and girls (as in, respect as people, not the madonna/whore complex), they’d be able to handle their early hormonal years a little better.

    Middle school students are smack dab in the middle of the period when they learn this (or don’t).

    Think about dress codes as the extra support that an ESL student gets, helping him function while he is in the process of learning the language skills he needs.

  36. tonycpsu:

    By all means, we should talk about these issues in ways that don’t blame girls for how adolescent boys perceive them, but I’m skeptical that better parenting is going to change the degree to which adolescents are distracted by their attraction toward fellow classmates.

  37. xxy:

    Maybe if clothing and human bodies weren’t so taboo they wouldn’t be so distracting. Breaking taboos (against essentially harmless things) is rebellious and titillating at the same time. That’s a magnet for middle-school students.

  38. joe from Lowell:

    Instead, they blame the thief for a lack of impulse control.

    And, indeed, any male student who acts out inappropriately towards a girl is blamed. Have you ever, even once, heard of a middle school getting away with something because of how the girl is dressed?

    Being distracted by sex is part of the human teenage experience. Learning to deal with these distractions through self-control is an important educational goal.

    The key word there is “learning.” By definition, we’re talking about people who are still learning this skill, and have not mastered it. It is the teachers’ responsibility to provide an atmosphere where they can learn this, while also being able to learn other things, like math and reading.

    Blaming one’s lack of impulse control on others, and seeking to control one’s own impulses by imposing restrictions on the behavior of others, is not something that the schools should be teaching.

    Do you think that the boys are the ones writing and enforcing the dress code? How, exactly, does a code, handed down by the teachers, specifying what boys and girls are supposed to wear, teach the boys that they get to impose restrictions on others?

  39. Incontinentia Buttocks:

    Partial exception for urban, African American youth (and NBA stars, who stand in for them for much of the public). They have frequently been the subject of sumptuary-law style bothering by the right.

  40. Pope Bandar bin Turtle:

    lol! Wish I’d had you for an excuse for why I did poorly in high school & college. (Some classes, like chemistry & physics, anyway.) Sadly, I just wasn’t that smart. Go figure.

  41. joe from Lowell:

    Maybe if clothing and human bodies weren’t so taboo they wouldn’t be so distracting.

    When clothing and human bodies stop being taboo, middle school teachers won’t have to worry about this crap.

  42. Incontinentia Buttocks:

    I recommend that Lahey start sending the message that she doesn’t measure girls by their hemlines by not measuring them by their hemlines.

    As the parent of two middle-school-aged kids (one boy, one girl), I heartily endorse this recommendation.

  43. JL:

    Joe, you want to know what these stupid hemline rules mean for middle-school girls? I’m no longer a middle-school girl, but I was 15 years ago. Let me tell you a couple of illustrative stories.

    First story: In my middle school, there was a major problem with boys sexually harassing girls (groping, spanking, sexually threatening, etc). Unless there was a teacher actually within line of sight during an incident (and that didn’t even always help), the teachers and admins did nothing about it. If you got caught fighting back, or fighting for someone else, you could get suspended along with the boys (I never got caught). Also you got made fun of for supposedly being a lesbian. Even though the teachers and admins didn’t DO anything to stop this, they were apparently aware of the problem, because…

    …one day we got to school to the announcement that shorts and skirts now had to be longer than arm-hang length. I think I owned one pair of shorts that length (I don’t wear skirts generally). Because, um, the stores didn’t sell them, especially not fitting a kid who was, at the time, 5’5″ and weighed about 85 lbs (I got taller, shall we say, before my body fully changed shape). I didn’t give a shit about fashion or popularity. I was a shy reserved unpopular little tomboy geek who wore jean shorts and baggy t-shirts and wouldn’t go on a date for another nine years. And I still didn’t have clothes that would follow this rule.

    I asked a trusted teacher why the school would put in such a stupid unrealistic rule, in more diplomatic terms. His response was that it was to stop the boys sexually harassing the girls. I suggested, a little acerbically, that if they cared about this issue, perhaps they should crack down on the boys for their behavior and not the girls for their clothing. He told me that wasn’t a realistic idea. The sexual harassment failed to slow or stop.

    Second story: Remember my description of myself at age 12 a couple of paragraphs ago? The shy unpopular little geek? That becomes important in this story.

    Anyway, I was in science class, and the teacher had stepped out of the room to talk to another teacher for a few minutes, and I was waiting at the front of the class for the teacher to get back so that I could hand her a paper or something. A boy in the class suddenly stood up and said “Hey, aren’t JL’s shorts are too short?” I told him to leave me alone, and let my arms hang, but didn’t stretch them, because my shorts were right on the borderline. Within 45 seconds, there was a group of other kids up at the front surrounding me, holding me still, forcing my shoulders downward so that I couldn’t shrug them, and trying to hold my arms stretched down by my sides, while the kids still in their seats cheered them on.

    Eventually, the teacher came back in to find this going on. The ringleaders started triumphantly trying to show their work off to her, yelling that she needed to punish me because I was breaking the dress code. I burst into tears, with a bunch of kids still holding onto me. About half the kids suddenly got quiet at that point. I got sent to the dean’s office, nearly hysterical, mostly so that I could recover. I think my mom brought me a pair of long pants. The teacher and dean were really pissed and made half a dozen kids write me letters of apology. The damage was done though, from my perspective.

    This kind of dress code just gives students another excuse to be horrible to each other. It validates the sexual predators and the bullies as well as the merely “distracted”, making their victims into rulebreakers who they can feel morally righteous about attacking, and assuring them that their responses are normal and it’s other people’s responsibility to adjust their lives around that.

  44. joe from Lowell:

    IMHO it gives them the burden of responsibility for boys’ behavior.

    Rules imposed on them from the staff give them – the female students – a burden of responsibility for boys’ behavior?

    Trust me on this one: the burden of responsibility for policing boys’ behavior in middle school falls on the teachers, not the girls. Secondarily, it falls on the boys, who get in trouble (not the girls they might bother, but the boys themselves) if they misbehave. The underlying assumption that boys are not held responsible for their behavior towards girls in school is a huge misperception.

  45. JL:

    Have you ever, even once, heard of a middle school getting away with something because of how the girl is dressed?

    Yes.

    See my reply to you above.

  46. joe from Lowell:

    Right, Lord knows I haven’t made any arguments on this threat, trolly.

    But congratulations on making up an excuse why you don’t need to answer them.

  47. Royko:

    I’ll admit, I was distracted by girls in 8th grade and high school. But I think I would have been just as distracted if they wore burlap sacks. It’s the nature of that age, and it didn’t significantly interfere with my schoolwork.

    But I am torn on the topic. I understand schools’ needs to have students wear appropriate clothing (which is really a much broader issue than hemlines or even sexuality, and applies to both genders.) It would be nice to just have a blanket rule covering appropriate dress, where the issue is determined on a case-by-case basis in a common sense manner (which is closest to what happens in the real world), but that can lead to arbitrary and selective enforcement. Go the other route and you have silly obsessive rules that involve measuring hemlines or banning hoodies. The most fair solution might honestly be uniforms.

  48. joe from Lowell:

    Middle school and college are two different things. Students are at very different levels of social and emotional development.

  49. joe from Lowell:

    Middle school boys, that is.

  50. joe from Lowell:

    There is nothing about dress codes that requires schools to be as incompetent as yours.

    Bad schools would be just as incompetent without them.

    None of the problem in the stories you just described were the result of the dress codes.

  51. Incontinentia Buttocks:

    Maybe I’m showing my age as a very late Boomer / very early Gen Xer, but I grew up thinking that school’s supposed needs to have students wear “appropriate clothing” were vastly overrated. And I continue to think so.

    The social standard of what clothing is or isn’t appropriate evolves with time. And I am much happier having students and parents make these decisions than having school administrators, bureaucrats, and politicians (let alone, e.g., members of a church hierarchy) make them for the students and parents.

  52. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    BTW, I was RIDICULOUSLY boy-crazy in middle and high school. Yet I still managed to make decent grades. HOW? My god, HOW?

  53. JL:

    At the risk of being obnoxious, if you’re tempted by the argument that this sort of dress code is helpful (or even just want the perspective of someone who attended a middle school with a dress code like this one), PLEASE read my (first) reply to JfL above. This is a really…unhappy…issue for me. It was not particularly easy to write that out.

    It is not the responsibility of the girls to not be “distracting” to the boys. Perhaps boys who can’t deal with this reality should have big cardboard things put on their desks to block their view of others, like the kids in in-school suspension used to get. The obvious difference between this sort of dress code and ESL (used as an analogy above) is that the existence of ESL isn’t harmful to native English speakers.

  54. tonycpsu:

    The underlying assumption that boys are not held responsible for their behavior towards girls in school is a huge misperception.

    I’m not saying you’re right or wrong on this, but I do think you might be substituting your day-to-day experience with these issues for an understanding of what goes on around the country. Your school may do a great job holding boys responsible for harassment, but there are many, many stories of this not being true elsewhere, and though I don’t have a quantitative basis on which to dispute your point, I don’t think you can say that the kids are alright just because they look good where you’re at. Young boys harassing young girls and getting away with it is a real thing.

  55. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    Also, I’m curious to know how showing a bit of leg or boob means you don’t respect yourself. My god, 90% of American women must not respect themselves!

  56. joe from Lowell:

    Another similarity to anti-affirmative action arguments: the glee with which opponents use the word “obsessing” in place of “considering,” to make any concern with the issue appear inherently illegitimate.

    Liberals are the Real Racists, and teachers who find that their students are more riled up when the fashion arms race gets cranked up have an unhealthy fixation.

    Same cheap rhetorical stunt.

  57. xxy:

    Yeah that would be great. But obsessing over hemlines and how much bare skin is poking out *reinforces* the taboo and doesn’t even accomplish the goal of getting rid of “distractions”. If every middle-school girl was required to wear school uniforms with ankle-length skirts and necklines above the collar bone you know what would become distracting to 12-year-old boys? The skin on her neck. Her bare wrist. The flash of an ankle or a calf. Her chest that her top doesn’t make disappear and leaves much for an imagination to work on. Her face, her hair, her eyes, her voice. I think you get the point.

    Taking your argument about “distraction” to it’s logical conclusion means we would have to require every adolescent girl to wear a niqab or have sex-segregated education. The very fact that they are *female* is always going to be “distracting” to some boys. Deal with it. There are millions of middle-school boys who made it through and graduated despite these “distractions”. It’s counterproductive and frankly sexist to punish girls because some boys choose to listen to their sex drive over their drive to learn.

  58. joe from Lowell:

    It is not the responsibility of the girls to not be “distracting” to the boys.

    No, it’s the responsibility of the teachers to maintain a healthy learning environment.

    The obvious difference between this sort of dress code and ESL (used as an analogy above) is that the existence of ESL isn’t harmful to native English speakers.

    The existence of dress codes isn’t harmful, either. ESL students sometimes get bullied for going to special classes, or for having extra in-class support. By your reasoning, the problem there is with the ESL program’s existence.

  59. DrDick:

    Yeah, that worked so well when I was in high school and skirts could not be more than 2 inches above the knee and no low cut tops were allowed.

  60. tonycpsu:

    I think we can have a middle ground between “anything goes” and head-to-toe covering that’s implemented in a gender-neutral way and doesn’t blame boys or girls for their natural interest in the opposite sex (or the same sex if that’s their thing.)

    Similarly, the idea that boys will just find something else to obsess about sounds a lot like “well, criminals will find a way to get guns if we try to stop them from purchasing them legally, so therefore gun control doesn’t work.”

  61. Icarus Wright:

    Try ignoring their bodies completely and getting directly to the work of cherishing those minds and those hearts instead.

    Absurd; I for one am incapable of viewing the female body sans heart and mind. This mind/body dualism is peurile. Ignoring the body is exactly as stupid as ignoring the mind/heart; the physical is just as relevant as the metaphysical.

  62. JL:

    But the dress code enabled the badness to manifest itself in those particular ways. Do you not believe that making rules for girls to address boys’ misbehavior sends a message to the boys that their misbehavior is, for lack of a better word, justifiable, especially if directed at dress code rulebreakers? Do you not believe that kids will use dress codes the way they use any other tool available, to punish the pariahs?

    What about the attitude from the adults who didn’t intervene in the sexual harassment in the first place? Those were the same people who put in the dress code, who could spend the time and energy enforcing it, who told me it wasn’t reasonable to expect them to spend that sort of time and energy actually stopping sexual assaults happening to children under their jurisdiction. The dress code didn’t cause the attitude of the adults, but it came from the attitude of the adults. It’s a shitty attitude and I would consider anything coming from such an attitude to be suspect at the very least.

  63. Lindsay Beyerstein:

    A rigid dress code just lays ugly gender stereotypes on top of ugly gender stereotypes.

    You start with the stereotype that sexiness is an elaborate and expensive performance that girls are obliged to perform for boys, coupled with the seemingly contradictory but no less powerful stereotype girls who put on a good show are somehow “bad.”

    Then, by imposing a strict dress code, you send the message that girls need to be controlled and shamed, that girls are responsible for regulating the behavior of boys, and that wearing skimpy clothes is rebellious and therefore cool.

  64. Anonymous:

    There is nothing about dress codes that requires schools to be as competent as yours.

    Good schools would be just as competent with them.

    None of the success in the stories you just described were the result of the dress codes.

    Okay, the last part is an exaggeration. There haven’t actually been any success stories posted involving dress codes.

  65. JL:

    And there’s nothing unhealthy about wearing shorts that are a little shorter than your fingertips when your arms are stretched at your sides. For plenty of girls, that’s most girls’ shorts (or at least it was 15 years ago, but I’d be surprised if girls’ shorts got longer in that time period).

  66. isaiah:

    Wait, I have an analogy: it’s like when Geraldo said black kids shouldn’t wear hoodies. Or maybe it’s like when some preacher said gay marriage will hurt straight marriage, somehow.

    What I mean is, just because some argument sounds kind of similar to some other argument, doesn’t really provide any evidence for or against it.

  67. Hogan:

    For the most part.

  68. joe from Lowell:

    Yeah that would be great. But obsessing over hemlines and how much bare skin is poking out *reinforces* the taboo

    Do you think the reactions and feedback that students get when they dress in ways intended to be provocative doesn’t *reinforce* the taboo?Again, you’re making the same mistake as opponents of affirmative action: pretending that the solution is the only, or primary, force in the field.

    and doesn’t even accomplish the goal of getting rid of “distractions”.

    It reduces them. Nothing is going to eliminate them entirely; this is rarely accepted as an argument for why efforts to reduce a problem should not be attempted.

    I think you get the point.

    Yes: you wish to argue that the way people dress cannot function to make them more or less physically attractive. Good luck with that.

    Taking your argument about “distraction” to it’s logical conclusion means we would have to require every adolescent girl to wear a niqab or have sex-segregated education

    You seem to have confused the term “logical” with “absurdly exaggerated.”

    It’s counterproductive and frankly sexist to punish girls

    So now dress codes are punitive? Fascinating. Are you twelve?

    …because some boys choose to listen to their sex drive over their drive to learn.

    Lol @ “choose.”

  69. xxy:

    Why do we have to find a middle ground? The only reason put forward by anyone to police how much skin students show is that it’s “distracting” but that’s a) sexist b) reinforces the taboo that makes it distracting in the first place and c) doesn’t do a single thing to solve the problem.

    Similarly, the idea that boys will just find something else to obsess about sounds a lot like “well, criminals will find a way to get guns if we try to stop them from purchasing them legally, so therefore gun control doesn’t work.”

    That’s a pretty tortured analogy. Controlling how much skin a girl shows doesn’t affect a boy’s sex drive or discipline at all. Nobody is getting killed here. Policing how much skin a girl shows is ethically and morally worse than the problem it’s supposed to solve.

    Just yesterday I walked down streets in broad daylight looking like shit, no makeup, my hair a mess, wearing a baggy sweatshirt, jeans, and running shoes. And I still got plenty of stares. It’s really fucked up to decide the problem is that girls aren’t covering up enough instead of that boys should be taught respect.

  70. JL:

    You’re conflating the fashion arms race with how much skin girls show. I have no doubt that some girls choose clothing that shows more skin because it’s the in thing in the fashion arms race, but the fashion arms race is about a lot more than skin. I’m not even sure skin-showing restrictions have much effect on fashion arms races – it’ll just be about who has the hippest brand-name long pants, or the most expensive blouse, or whose parents are taking them to posh stores in hours-away big cities to buy $400 dresses (I am adjusting this a little for inflation, I remember it being more like $300 when I was a kid) for the spring dance.

    Shit, the Catholic school girls were attending schools with actual uniforms and still managed to find ways to have the fashion arms race. I’m not saying that means don’t do anything at all, I just don’t think the upsides/downsides ratio of this particular way of addressing it is very good. Especially since, again, you can quite easily be tripped up by leg-skin rules even if you wouldn’t know the fashion arms race if it did a dance in front of you wearing an outfit from the cover of Vogue.

    And, just for the record, I don’t think you’re unhealthily fixated on girls’ clothing, I just don’t agree with you.

  71. Gareth Wilson:

    Her argument sounds reasonable, but if you take it seriously you’d let teenage girls you’re responsible for wear absolutely anything they wanted. I’d find this more convincing from someone with a teenage daughter who had put it into practice.

  72. joe from Lowell:

    Do you not believe that making rules for girls to address boys’ misbehavior…

    As I’ve stated several times now, dress codes are 1) not unique to girls, and 2) intended to address intra-girl (and intra-boy) rivalry just as much as to address inter-sex responses. Erasing most of the argument, and then pointing out that what you’ve allowed to remain is slanted, isn’t much of an argument.

    Do you not believe that kids will use dress codes the way they use any other tool available, to punish the pariahs?

    I believe – in fact, have seen, with a certain level of experience – that dress codes reduce the total number of tools available. Do you not understand that the fashion arms race itself provides far more tools for such bullying? Your argument seems to be that school enforced rules are more easily grasped by bullies that the social rules of the student peer group. That is nonsense.

    What about the attitude from the adults who didn’t intervene in the sexual harassment in the first place?

    It sucks. Your assumption that any rules created by a school or its staff must necessarily reflect the same attitude is unwarranted, and I doubt you think that in any other area of school operations.

  73. joe from Lowell:

    Empty verbiage. I wouldn’t put my name on that crap, either.

  74. xxy:

    I don’t know what kind of special psychological problems the people of Lowell have, but in LA yes if everyone is dressing “provocatively” it ceases to be provocative after what, a day?

    And yes dress codes *are* punitive. It’s not just about the clothes, it’s about being shamed for merely being female. Are you a sociopath? Has teaching middle-school killed your empathy circuits?

  75. jeer9:

    Agreed. Our HS bans spaghetti straps, bare midriffs, and Daisy Duke shorts, but that hasn’t stopped the latest revealing fashion trend: yoga tights. Time for an amendment to that dress code. Our principal is an older, rather uptight Christian gentleman who, egged on by some religious female teachers, believes this is an important aspect of our school’s culture. I’ve got better things to do than stop my lesson and write up some girl for inappropriate attire. We’re reading Cyrano and if the boys paid attention they’d learn The Rules of Courtly Love which can still occasionally be useful.

  76. joe from Lowell:

    This is a profession of faith.

  77. tonycpsu:

    (Replying to xxy)

    Why do we have to find a middle ground? The only reason put forward by anyone to police how much skin students show is that it’s “distracting” but that’s a) sexist b) reinforces the taboo that makes it distracting in the first place and c) doesn’t do a single thing to solve the problem.

    I don’t think it’s sexist to acknowledge the fact that seeing more of someone you’re attracted to can be more distracting than seeing less of them. Of course it’s possible to get noticed while wearing jeans and a sweatshirt, but I think you have to engage in a fair amount of self-deception to think that clothing choices have no impact, and that more revealing clothing choices can increase the amount one gets noticed.

    Doing so does not require one to buy into the harmful slut-shaming stereotypes, or to assign blame to one gender or another.

    Policing how much skin a girl shows is ethically and morally worse than the problem it’s supposed to solve.

    The point is that if you’re doing this right, you don’t police girls, you police students, some of whom are girls. You choose a dress code that’s equitable in how it treats both sexes, and you don’t assign blame to one sex or the other

  78. Anonymous:

    It’s only as empty as the post it’s based on.

  79. joe from Lowell:

    What does that have to do with dress codes?

    OK, some schools do a bad job with sexual harassment. When sexual harassment occurs, they will do an equally-bad job whether or not there is a dress code.

    This is a point entirely distinct from whether dress codes address problems of student distraction and peer pressure.

  80. Karen:

    Since this topic is vaguely connected to boys and grades, can I get some help and advice from the Internet? My son has a B- average. He’s a high school freshman at a large school in suburban Austin, Texas. He has zero idea what he wants to do in life and is rapidly running out of time to make that decision. His grades, unless they improve gigantically, will preclude him from getting into a decent college, and I just don’t see him as a blue-collar type. Is there any hope that he will straighten up and have a decent life?

    Also, any time someone says “Maybe he shouldn’t go to college” I hear “Your son is a complete dimwit.” I was a National Merit Scholar and Phi Beta Kappa, so I don’t really know what happens to people who make mediocre grades. I assume that it’s nothing at all good. Any suggestions or advice?

  81. Scott Lemieux:

    Policing how much skin a girl shows is ethically and morally worse than the problem it’s supposed to solve.

    This, precisely.

  82. joe from Lowell:

    And you now what? I’m going to stick with the utterly-uncontroversial position that teachers do, in fact, have particular insight into education.

    Sue me.

  83. tonycpsu:

    I agree, but you were linking your “rules imposed by the staff” (the dress code) with what you say is an equitable treatment of boys who harass girls, and I think you might just be in a better situation than many other teachers/students. That’s all I was trying to say.

  84. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    xxy, you beat me to it, but I was going to say something similar.

    I’m a 40 year old woman who dresses conservatively and is trying to drop a few lbs. Yet I manage to turn a head or two every time I leave the house. I’m not sure what more I can do besides start wearing a bag over my head.

  85. joe from Lowell:

    Maybe fraternity rush parties should feature trap doors that deposit attendees directly into waiting 7th-grade classrooms.

  86. Royko:

    I tend to agree that the need is overrated, and, I think, exaggerated, particularly by generation conflict. In most cases, kids wear what they wear, and while certain style choices (in my day, it was low-hanging pants) may annoy the heck out of administrators, other students seem to handle them just fine.

    But, I do feel that if I happened to spend a year as a vice principal, sooner or later the issue of appropriate clothing would rear its head in a way I couldn’t ignore and force me to make some stupid, arbitrary rule just to put the matter to rest. I’d certainly defer to the experiences of actual educators, but I do know that when managing large numbers of people in any environment, you often end up having to arbitrate the preposterous.

  87. Scott Lemieux:

    Policing girls’ hemlines… gives them what, precisely?

    And, yep, here’s the biggest of the many reasons that the affirmative action analogy is a massive fail.

  88. joe from Lowell:

    By high school, especially upper-class years, the argument for such rules is considerably less compelling.

  89. joe from Lowell:

    If you want to argue that that particular rule is bogus, go ahead.

    The leap from that to the argument that there is never any detrimental effect on the educational environment from how students dress is a rather large one.

  90. Scott Lemieux:

    Apparently, I was much more interested in girls in my math and biology classes than in my English and Social Studies classes. Even though the girls were the same and the dress code was the same. Weird.

  91. joe from Lowell:

    Using the word “obsessing” is not an argument. It’s just a rhetorical trick, the use of a pejorative term to avoid the need to make an argument.

  92. delurking:

    I’d say it’s harmful to the young girl for that girl to be written up or to be sent to the office because (she is told) her clothing is inappropriate.

    I know Joe from Lowell has never been a young girl, so I’ll just let him know: many young girls have body issues. It comes from growing up in a culture that is constantly telling us we’re sluts and whores and that our bodies are evil, or disgusting, or wrong. So when a person in position of authority over us (our teacher) calls us out in public and subjects us to public discipline for dressing in an inappropriate manner (i.e. like a slut or a whore), yeah, that’s damaging.

    That Joe from Lowell doesn’t see this as punitive tells me he doesn’t understand in the slightest what it is like to be a young girl in this culture.

  93. joe from Lowell:

    You’re conflating the fashion arms race with how much skin girls show.

    I don’t mean to. These are two different issues that dress codes attempt to address.

    And, just for the record, I don’t think you’re unhealthily fixated on girls’ clothing

    You haven’t written anything that attempts to suggest such a fixation. Others have.

  94. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    I’m not sure anyone’s arguing that attraction can be managed, only the way in which it’s channeled.

  95. joe from Lowell:

    He’s a freshmen?

    Student’s academic performance can improve dramatically between their freshman year and their upper-class years.

    Freshman year sucks. Students are expected to make two huge transitions – an academic one, and a social one – from middle school to high school, and do so while getting the short end of every social stick.

  96. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    I’m also pretty uncomfortable with the jumble of issues Lahey tries to address in her sucktastic article.

    Teaching girls self-respect? Telling them that they have value beyond the validation they may get from boys if they look a certain way? Fantastic things I’m all for. You just don’t DO THAT by making girls the sexual caretakers of boys.

  97. joe from Lowell:

    Go throw your bigoted tantrum elsewhere, xxy.

    Yes, I’m a sociopath. The difference between me and you, arising from my having first-hand experience with this issue and you not having any, is that I’ve become a terrible, terrible person.

    Christ, what an asshole.

  98. delurking:

    I have a daughter. She’s 14. From the time she was five, I’ve made it clear to her that her body is her own, and she gets to make the choices about that body.

    So yes, she decides what clothing she wears.

    Does she always make the right choices? Not every single time. A couple days ago I really thought she needed a coat. She said not. Out she went. When she came home that evening, she admitted she should have taken one.

    But you know what? Kids don’t learn from experience if you don’t let them have experiences. And mostly she makes good choices. She also asks my advice, often, because she knows I will let her make her own decisions — because I’m not her enemy: because I haven’t made myself her enemy. Because she knows I’m on her side.

  99. joe from Lowell:

    in LA yes if everyone is dressing “provocatively” it ceases to be provocative after what, a day?

    We’re not talking about “people” in the aggregate. We’re talking about middle school students.

    As it turns out, middle school students aren’t adults. Hoocoodaknowed?

  100. xxy:

    @tonycpsu

    It’s not that it’s sexist to point that out, it’s that it’s sexist to start policing girls because of it.

    There really is no way to do a dress code equitably. Girls go crazy over boys but nobody suggests it’s because boys are wearing too much skin or that it’s so much of a distraction that its harming their education. And all dress codes I’ve ever seen have pretty much only applied to girls. Saying a ban on shorts or skirts above the knee is equitable because it applies to both sexes it’s ridiculous because the vast, vast majority of students affected by that are girls. Same goes for rules about exposed midriffs, necklines, etc. In practice school dress codes are “only show as much skin as an average boy” which means most boys aren’t affected by it.

  101. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    It’s almost as if there’s more to attraction than how much flesh is on display.

  102. joe from Lowell:

    Because you said so.

  103. tt:

    He has zero idea what he wants to do in life and is rapidly running out of time to make that decision.
    No he’s not.

  104. Lindsay Beyerstein:

    Which part do you disagree with? You just said yourself that junior high school kids’ idea of fashion reinforces gender stereotypes.

    The message I got from that kind of policing was pure slut-shaming. You can dress it up in platitudes about respect, but what girls hear is that women who dress a certain way don’t deserve respect.

  105. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    Girls go crazy over boys but nobody suggests it’s because boys are wearing too much skin or that it’s so much of a distraction that its harming their education.

    ^A bajillion times this. Nobody has answered my post about being insanely boy-crazy. I wonder why.

  106. joe from Lowell:

    Policing girls’ hemlines… gives them what, precisely?

    Dress codes, which apply to both boys and girls (no matter how many times you wish to pretend they do not, so you can then argue that they only apply to girls) provide everyone in the school with a better learning environment – one that has less social and sexual distractions.

    Before declaring that it provides none, Scott, did you bother to actually speak to any school teachers? Or was evaluating the idea purely on your ideology all you needed to draw a conclusion?

  107. Gareth Wilson:

    OK, so would you let her wear an SS uniform to a costume party?

  108. joe from Lowell:

    I’m not sure anyone’s arguing that attraction can be managed

    This must be why nobody ever uses clothing to make themselves look more attractive.

  109. xxy:

    @jfL

    I was talking about middle school students, not people in general. I attended middle school in LA from 1999-2002, before the conservative shift in fashion that happened recently. You’re not the only person who has stepped foot inside a middle school. I wasn’t an adult. My peers weren’t adults. We survived. Some of them even got good grades! How they managed to do that in the midst of short shorts, bare midriffs and spaghetti straps is a total mystery.

  110. joe from Lowell:

    Ha, I get it!

    If dress codes aren’t the only thing that influences academic performance, then that shows they have no effect on academic performance.

    This is one of your weaker forays, Scott.

  111. efgoldman:

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with going to a state school. Millions of people do it, and end up just fine, as educated, productive adults. Why, some even have families and raise good kids (imagine!). Some go to grad school or professional school, some don’t. But every Harvard drop out doesn’t turn in to Bill Gates or invent Facebook, either.

  112. joe from Lowell:

    Thank you for blowing the lid off my terrible secret that I’ve never been a girl.

    In point of fact, not only do advocates of dress codes (also known as “teachers and principals”) understand the problem of young women being subject to negative reinforcement based on their dress, they actually propose doing something about it.

    Because, as you might or might not remember, most of that reinforcement comes from girls’ peers, not their teachers. Dress codes, among other benefits, reduce the opportunity for such negative reinforcement, at least as far as clothing and fashion are concerned.

    Perhaps you can climb down off your high horse long enough to acknowledge that this point exists.

  113. xxy:

    @DrKennethNoisewater

    Yeah I saw your comment and forgot to credit you. I don’t see any convincing evidence that showing skin or being “distracted” is such a crisis in education that shaming girls for having skin is necessary.

  114. joe from Lowell:

    making girls the sexual caretakers of boys

    Since dress codes apply to both girls and boys, do they make boys the sexual caretakers of girls?

  115. Lindsay Beyerstein:

    She’s implying that girls who wear skimpy clothes lack self-respect. That’s classic slut-shaming.

    Impugning someone’s self-respect is just about the most shaming conversational gambit there is. She’s implying that these girls are engaging in objectively degrading behavior that they wouldn’t do if they had sufficient self-respect. That’s qualitatively different from the more socially acceptable message that she’s pushing in the top text. The more socially acceptable message is that dress codes are about protecting girls from being wrongfully harassed or unfairly disrespected for their clothing choices. The contemptuous attitude that seeps through is that there is something shameful about dressing provocatively.

  116. Loud Liberal:

    Your high school was half right: a boy being distracted by the view of the parts of a girls body that initiate sexual stimulation in him is no less chemically induced, and inevitable, than a girl being compelled to reveal those parts to a boy. So, you see, both boys and girls are destracted from the primary purpose of their presence in school, and there is inherent gender equality and balance in the universe.

  117. Origami Isopod:

    xxy for the win. Screw “middle ground.” You don’t seek middle ground with bigotry, and that includes misogyny.

  118. tonycpsu:

    (@ xxy again)

    There really is no way to do a dress code equitably… And all dress codes I’ve ever seen have pretty much only applied to girls.

    Just because this has been so doesn’t mean it must be so. You’re basically saying it’s too hard to do this equitably, and I don’t think that’s the case. The fact that girls wear skirts and boys generally don’t makes things more complicated, but if you set a guideline that takes into account community standards, local climate, etc. and apply it fairly to everyone, I think it can work.

  119. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    You mad, bro?

    And it must be why some people are attractive without intending to be.

    Why, there are some people–I BET!– go to great lengths to be attractive and still–NO GOOD!

    It’s almost as if attraction is a complicated thing and hard and fast rules probably won’t apply.

  120. Johnny Sack:

    How’s this for genders stereotypes-you complain like a girl.

  121. Scott Lemieux:

    Since dress codes apply to both girls and boys, do they make boys the sexual caretakers of girls?

    Now, here’s where we can actually find an analogy in bad Supreme Court jurisprudence: “We consider the underlying fallacy of the plaintiff’s argument to consist in the assumption that the enforced separation of the two races stamps the colored race with a badge of inferiority. If this be so, it is not by reason of anything found in the act, but solely because the colored race chooses to put that construction upon it.”

    What’s the equivalent of the hemline police that applies to boys? The idea that because strict dress codes are formally gender neutral that they treat young women and men alike in substance is transparently wrong.

  122. Origami Isopod:

    The underlying assumption that boys are not held responsible for their behavior towards girls in school is a huge misperception.

    Wow. Just wow. Male privilege, u haz it.

  123. joe from Lowell:

    In practice school dress codes are “only show as much skin as an average boy” which means most boys aren’t affected by it.

    So let me get this straight: girls are subject to peer pressure and social expectations to put their bodies on display more than boys. Dress codes designed to prevent students from putting their bodies on display address a problem that falls more heavily on girls than on boys. And this makes it worse for girls. Um.

    Why are we talking about this like affirmative action opponents, and pretending that the outcomes in the absence of rules are natural, desirable, and untainted by the very sexism that you purport to oppose?

    We survived. Some of them even got good grades! How they managed to do that in the midst of short shorts, bare midriffs and spaghetti straps is a total mystery.

    Most people will “survive” in any given situation. Most students attending schools where sexual harassment or poverty are prevalent will “survive” and get good grades. This is not a good argument.

    shaming girls for having skin

    More empty rhetoric. A pejorative term used in place of an argument.

  124. JL:

    The original Lahey piece was talking the skin thing, and in fact spent some time talking about the shorts/skirt-length rule that I dislike so much. That’s why I jumped on it.

    I’m not sure anyone is arguing that there should be no dress code whatsoever for middle schoolers (I’m not, at any rate). I’m willing to accept your assertion that it’s harder to teach a bunch of 11-13 year-olds who won’t stop talking about and pointing at each other’s outfits. I’m not sure what I think a good dress code would be, though – you can’t really enforce a cap on the amount of money spent on an outfit, for instance, nor a ban on anything that would be considered excessively daring or shocking by whatever contemporary standards are (as it’s pretty arbitrary and changes from year to year and season to season, and varies by age group anyway). As much as I dislike the notion of school uniforms, I’d consider them preferable* to a lot of dress codes because they’re straightforward (by high school, I’m mostly inclined to drop formal dress restrictions altogether unless a school has a really compelling reason for it).

    *Though IMO school uniforms, if you must have them, should not be gendered – if you want to have options for both skirts and pants, or both shirts and blouses, fine, but students should be able to choose between those options regardless of gender.

  125. tonycpsu:

    (@ Origami)

    xxy for the win. Screw “middle ground.” You don’t seek middle ground with bigotry, and that includes misogyny.

    The middle ground is between “anything goes” and “no visible skin.” It’s possible to favor a dress code and not be a bigot/misogynist.

  126. Origami Isopod:

    Middle school students are smack dab in the middle of the period when they learn this (or don’t).

    Bullshit. It begins when they’re toddling around.

    Think about dress codes as the extra support that an ESL student gets

    Yes, because the poor ickle boys are so hampered by their sex drives, just like students who can’t speak English!

    This is so damn misandrist as well as misogynist.

  127. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    NOT ONCE did the author bemoan the dress of boys. Are you being deliberately obtuse because you know you shat the bed on this one, Joe?

  128. Vance Maverick:

    I think it’s just a rhetorical move — pretend diagnosis — to make the accused feel bad. It would be equally bogus if I were to claim that jfL is showing some kind of obsession in this thread (other, that is, than with defending his position).

  129. tonycpsu:

    The idea that because strict dress codes are formally gender neutral that they treat young women and men alike in substance is transparently wrong.

    That’s because of deficiencies in the humans who apply the codes. These problems can be corrected over time by educating the principals and teachers on how to enforce them equitably, and punishment of those who don’t. We don’t stop writing regulations because regulators are often compromised.

  130. Johnny Sack:

    From what I remember, freshman grades aren’t necessarily important for college (I applied to Chicago [but didn't go] and they didn’t even ask for freshman year grades, or made it clear they didn’t weight them heavily at all. That’s not every school though). I think they’re damaging insofar as poor grades may preclude your son from honors or AP courses if his school has grade cutoffs for those. Anyway, I know plenty of people who found their work ethic in college and got into excellent grad programs. Flagship state (UF in my case, or even FSU) with good grades is nothing shameful, and doing well there positions you well for grad school.

  131. joe from Lowell:

    I disagree that dress codes, by definition, are based on ugly gender stereotypes.

    I disagree that sexiness is an elaborate and expensive performance that girls are obliged to perform for boys, coupled with the seemingly contradictory but no less powerful stereotype girls who put on a good show are somehow “bad.”, and with the implication that my support for dress codes must necessarily stem from this.

    I disagree that imposing dress codes (which, once again, apply to both girls and boys) send the message that girls need to be controlled and shamed, or that girls are responsible for regulating the behavior of boys.

    And I disagree with the implication that students will not see sexy clothing as rebellious and attractive in the absence of dress codes.

    You can dress it up in platitudes about respect, but what girls hear is that women who dress a certain way don’t deserve respect.

    I don’t think you should presume to speak for “girls,” Lindsay. You certainly shouldn’t presume to speak for any you don’t know.

  132. Johnny Sack:

    What I mean is, what’s really going to count is 10-12, but especially 11, the last year of full grades. You want to get into those higher level classes and kick ass in them.

  133. Origami Isopod:

    Yep. When boys are harassed for their clothes, it’s usually got a racial angle to it — either they’re black, or they’re “dressing like they’re black.” All of the screaming about saggy jeans over the last umpteen years is because they’re associated with “gangstas.”

  134. joe from Lowell:

    Oh, look, the magical “privilege” word.

    There, you’ve made yourself feel superior to someone. No need to try to hold up your end of an argument now!

  135. Karen:

    I graduated from UT Austin and my father taught for years at East Texas State (now A & M Commerce), so I’m very familiar with the fact that someone can get a good education at a state school. The problem is that 2nd tier state schools are not going to be recruiting sources for decent graduate programs, and my son won’t be admitted to UT Austin or A & M (for non-Texans, ‘A & M’ only refers to the main campus in College Station, not the satellite schools.) Too many smaller state schools are turning into on-line diploma mills, where kids can learn “to leverage core competencies and synergies to achieve in a global marketplace” but no actual subjects. I’m afraid that my son will never get a chance to demonstrate how bright he is to the real world because he made bad grades as a high school freshman.

  136. Rarely Posts:

    Personally, I am skeptical that girls are not more distracted by guys who push the dress code (one reasons guys push the dress code is to impress girls). I suspect girls do a better job of hiding how much they are distracted by guys’ clothes.

    Moreover, I’m skeptical that you can substantially decrease sexual distraction between girls and boys, except through sex segregation. Perhaps my own experience is coloring my memory, but I was basically distracted by sex from the moment I went through puberty until my mid-twenties, with the peak years from 13-20. And, as a gay man, even sex segregation would not have helped.

    Personally, I enjoyed having a strictly enforced dress code, but I doubt that it did much to decrease sexual distraction. It was significantly more successful at diminishing distracting social competition. I also know many nerdy girls who appreciated the dress code, but once again, mostly because it decreased social competition. It also did help prepare me for my first job interviews (prior to ending high school), where I showed up looking relatively professional. I would just emphasize very different benefits in making the case for dress codes/uniforms.

  137. Vance Maverick:

    I’m surprised it took this long for Godwin to be vindicated.

  138. tonycpsu:

    Come on. I’m generally on your side of this particular argument, but you really whiffed on that one, Joe.

  139. joe from Lowell:

    How’s this: when confronted with a problem you can’t solve, you lash out like a typical meathead.

    MUST SMASH JOE!

  140. JL:

    Yeah, on this one, I’m going to agree with JfL. Also with tt and efgoldman, for that matter.

    There’s a lot of time and development between freshman year and senior year. And colleges know that, and even very prestigious ones are not likely to toss the application of someone who had a mediocre freshman year and good grades afterward (I worked part-time in Admissions when I was an undergrad, so I do have some insight on the process).

    I didn’t have a solid idea of what I wanted to do until after college. And if his grades don’t improve (or even if they do) there’s nothing wrong with going to a state school (UT Austin, probably your closest state school geographically, is actually top-notch in my field).

    Of course, if his heart is set on a top college, then you probably want to talk with him about what that college will expect. But it doesn’t sound like that’s what he cares about.

  141. JKTHs:

    But you don’t want 25 year olds in a 7th grade classroom

  142. Vance Maverick:

    Hmm, so these rules can only work if they’re applied wisely. How about we drop the rules and proceed with the wisdom alone?

  143. Karen:

    He’s taking three honors-level courses this year, which I now see was a gigantic error. He’s going to take only one next year — probably German. Bowie doesn’t have grade requirements for AP classes but does require certain prerequisites, especially in math. FWIW, he’s making an A in not-honors Algebra, without much trouble.

  144. Gareth Wilson:

    OK, forget the Nazis. She wants to dress as Michelle Obama (I’m assuming she’s white). Sleeveless dress, black wig, brown make-up. She’s not racist, she just has no idea about the implications of wearing blackface. Would you explain them to her?

  145. tonycpsu:

    The rules are there for when wisdom fails, which it often does. Nothing wrong with having the belt and suspenders when both are subject to failure.

  146. joe from Lowell:

    Bullshit. It begins when they’re toddling around.

    No, not really. The notion that girls should be treated with equal respect begins when they’re toddling around, but learning the specific skill of mastering one’s sexual impulses to conform with that standard takes place during adolescence, when one starts to have a sex drive.

    Yes, because the poor ickle boys are so hampered by their sex drives, just like students who can’t speak English!

    Yep. It’s difficult to function in society when you lack the skills.

    This is so damn misandrist as well as misogynist.

    Oh, look your magical worship words. It’s now (insert fifty cent words here) to believe that adolescents need to be socialized in their expressions of their sexuality.

  147. JL:

    Okay, I replied to you before I read this.

    In addition to the point that I and others made before about strong schools not just tossing out applications because of a meh freshman year, he could potentially also start at a community college and use that as a springboard to a stronger four-year school than he would have been able to get into straight out of high school.

    And believe me, a grade pattern that starts out low in high school and gets better with time is infinitely better, from an admissions perspective, than one that’s the other way around.

  148. xxy:

    Why are we talking about this like affirmative action opponents, and pretending that the outcomes in the absence of rules are natural, desirable, and untainted by the very sexism that you purport to oppose?

    Right, girls only wear the clothing that they are pressured to wear, and instead of being forced to wear revealing clothing they should be forced to cover up. For their own good. To fight sexism.

    It’s very clear who’s throwing the bigoted tantrum here.

  149. nothingforducks:

    From my middle school’s dress code, thing that were forbidden for boys: sagging pants, shorts, sleeveless shirts, clothing with rips or holes. These are not strictly analogous to hemlines, but that’s because boys’ fashion is not the same as girls’ fashion. And also, dress codes for girls are not exclusively hemline-related.

    I can’t find any on Google, but I also lack academic database access: aren’t there any school dress code metastudies that at least shine some empirical light on this? And however demeaning a dress code may be, and it does predominately affect girls, I hope you at least concede that the peer pressure effects on clothing and bodily image are also bad (in my opinion worse), and dress codes are created to mitigate them. The fact they are sometimes misapplied in the particulars or unsuccessful at creating a perfect learning environment is straight out of the conservative “This policy will not solve everything and therefore is worthless” playbook.

  150. Vance Maverick:

    Of course. Just as delurking did with the coat.

    I don’t know how I’d act in that case (I may find out in a few years), but I think this attempt at a reductio doesn’t help with the issue at hand.

  151. Origami Isopod:

    Excuse me, are you seriously comparing wearing an SS uniform with showing more skin than certain people are comfortable with?

  152. Lurker:

    Enlisting might be an excellent idea. Especially, serving in a technical MOS in Navy or Air Force may give at least as good possibilities for a steady work later than a mediocre community college.

  153. joe from Lowell:

    You mad, bro?

    Nope, I think this is going quite well. You seem to be getting pretty wound up, though. Among others. (The use of all caps is often a good indicator of this. Ahem.)

    And it must be why some people are attractive without intending to be.

    Why, there are some people–I BET!– go to great lengths to be attractive and still–NO GOOD!

    It’s almost as if attraction is a complicated thing and hard and fast rules probably won’t apply.

    Is any of that supposed to make the case that clothing isn’t used, and often effectively used, by people to make themselves more attractive? Because it totally didn’t.

    Nobody is arguing that attractiveness is simple. In this big, complicated world, however, people still can and do manage to look more or less attractive based on how they dress.

  154. Karen:

    He actually doesn’t have any idea where he wants to go to school. He doesn’t even care that much about the Longhorns’ football schedule. He likes to read for fun, mostly science fiction and fantasy, and play Assassin’s Creed. His favorite subject is history, but at the moment his best subject is Algebra. He has very mild ADD, for which I have declined medical intervention since it isn’t causing him to completely fail and because his friends take meds and have terrifying side effects.

    Mainly, the school makes it seem like any kid who isn’t already accepted to MIT at the end of freshman year will end up selling meth from a decaying trailer, or, at best. have a career involving the phrase “do you want fries with that?” UT accepted anyone with a pulse when I went there; now, the Top 10% rule fills up the freshman class completely. This is a good thing, and has both killed the frats AND increased graduation rates, but sucks for kids like my son who won’t be in the top of his class.

  155. Vance Maverick:

    Wisdom and tapemeasure dress codes are more like a belt and the onion to hang from it — wear them and your pants will stay up, but you can do without the onion.

  156. joe from Lowell:

    What’s the equivalent of the hemline police that applies to boys?

    The sagging-waist police, also known as the visible-boxers police. Duh.

    You might have written an better post on this subject if you had bothered to develop the slightest knowledge base before holding forth.

  157. Johnny Sack:

    What I meant was I want you to suck my cock.

  158. GRTiger:

    I have a question that hasn’t been asked yet, Joe (or another teacher) I hope you can answer it. If a teacher used the opportunity to teach about sexism would there be support from the administration or would it be an out of bounds topic? I understand some schools give teachers support when it comes to use the moment as anti-bullying messaging. (my daughters focused on it, although it was imperfect, (personally hearing a teacher make fun of gay HS kids in my presence, after i heard this teacher did it in front of the classroom)).

  159. joe from Lowell:

    You made, bro?

    BTW, it took me about five seconds to answer Scott’s unanswerable question.

    I’m having a great time, btw. You?

  160. Karen:

    This makes me feel better.

  161. joe from Lowell:

    You do know I didn’t write the piece, right?

  162. Loud Liberal:

    P.S. When I was in public school, boy’s hair had to be above the collar, girl’s skirts couldn’t be higher than just above the knee, and bluejeans were forbidden for everyone.

  163. Johnny Sack:

    I don’t know why people write off community colleges. Many of them have solid vocational training that is just as good and less exorbitantly priced than private ripoff programs. The one nearest me, Miami-Dade, (which now has some4 year degrees, but is still basically a community college) has an excellent track records. I had numerous high school friends who couldn’t afford college right away for a variety of reasons, and entered the honors program and transferred to top schools for their last two years. Anecdata, sure, but not something to write off.

  164. Gareth Wilson:

    Fair enough. So are there any implications of sexually suggestive clothing that might need to be explained to a 14-year-old girl?

  165. Origami Isopod:

    So you’re trolling, basically. An issue that fucks over so many young women is nothing but a fun intellectual exercise for you.

    Nice, empathetic response to JL, by the way. You couldn’t even muster an “I’m really sorry that happened to you”?

  166. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    Yet you’re defending every word of it.

  167. Johnny Sack:

    “An excellent track records.”

    Good grief. Ole Johnny had a couple last night.

  168. Origami Isopod:

    Since JfL didn’t have the fucking decency to say it, I’ll say it: I am so damn sorry that happened to you. You didn’t deserve it.

  169. joe from Lowell:

    I suppose it would depend on where the school is, and what “teach about sexism” means.

    The 6th/7th/8th grade Social Studies teacher in my school frequently addresses gender discrimination in history. The religion teacher teaches about sexism in her unit on social sin.

  170. Lindsay Beyerstein:

    Junior high school kids already act as if sexiness is an elaborate performance that girls owe boys, and as if girls who wear body conscious clothing are morally suspect. These are the ugly stereotype that dress codes are supposed to address. The Atlantic writer thinks schools should ban short skirts to protect girls from the pressure to wear them.

    The problem is, if you start punishing girls for their “inappropriate” clothes, the school is modeling the kind of shaming behavior that we’d like to discourage in students.

  171. joe from Lowell:

    Nope.

    I think I’m starting to understand why you’re doing such a bad job addressing my arguments: because you aren’t actually trying to.

  172. joe from Lowell:

    Kindly point out, for instance, anything I’ve written about either 1) a teacher’s right not to see underwear, or 2) girls who dress too sexy lacking self-respect.

    Or, you can admit that you kind of screwed up a little, perhaps even apologize for projecting arguments onto me.

  173. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    I’m ok with her speaking for girls, having been one myself.

  174. Gareth Wilson:

    delurking is the one with the absolute standard here: “She decides what clothing she wears”. So if she decides on the death’s head and the lightning runes… Seriously, delurking obviously would forbid her from wearing that. That means that he controls what she wears, and we’re just arguing over how strict the control should be.

  175. Origami Isopod:

    I know, right? What a stupid idea, that a person’s lived experience might give them insights into a situation that someone without that experience is more likely to lack! It’s not like it’s a basic sociological concept or anything!

  176. Origami Isopod:

    He has zero idea what he wants to do in life and is rapidly running out of time to make that decision.

    Oh, come ON. He’s 14 or 15 years old. Do you really think everybody settles, or should settle, on their ultimate goals in life at that age? The idea that yes, they should, is a huge problem in our society.

  177. joe from Lowell:

    So you’re trolling, basically.

    Yeah, that’s it. I’m not actually making arguments in good faith, or putting forward meaningful position.

    If someone else gets mad because they don’t like my position, I’m trolling. Sure, that’s fair.

  178. cpinva:

    you’re a semi-professional asshole?

    “Hey, Mr. Snarky: wanna guess what I do for a living?”

    based on your fairly baseless comments so far, it was the best i could come up with, prove me wrong.

    oddly enough, my children were both in middle-school (public) within the past few years. there was no dress code (aside from being required to be, you know, dressed), to no one’s surprise here, everyone survived. the dress codes i have seen, both from personal, first hand experience, and from other’s experience, all focus nearly universally on what the girls can and can’t wear, it’s as though the boys just don’t exist, for that particular exercise in authoritarianism. can’t imagine why that might be. oh, wait, it could be because these same authoritarians are too fucking lazy to do their jobs, and it’s just a whole lot easier to make it the girl’s problem.

    again, prove me wrong.

  179. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    So basically you’re arguing for rules that will dictate how attractive people can be. Since a dress code impacts attractiveness that significantly according to you.

  180. Johnny Sack:

    I only have anecdata, so take it with a grain of salt. But the valedictorian of my high school class got into a Top 10 undergrad program and did not perform very well. After bopping around aimlessly he finally got into a very weak D.O. program.

    I have friends who spent all their time in AV Club or debate, with terrible grades, and found their academic balls in college. One went to NYU Law when law school was still a good idea. This was a guy who was in honors, but barely made the cutoff to stay in the honors/AP track while in high school. Had a 3.0 in high school at best, maybe dipped lower senior year. UCF to NYU. I can think of several more who got into great medical schools, PhD programs, out of undergrad. There are some things where pedigree really matters (law-but that’s the law school, not so much the undergrad, finance), but given the variety and importance of grad school for many fields, undergrad is not the be all, end all. Doing well and standing out is probably easier at a non-top school, and even a directional state U will position you well.

    I guess the shorter version is give your son some time and some credit. I’ve known guys go Duke to FSU Law (…lol, kind of a waste, no?), and UCF to NYU. Which do you think is more impressive?

  181. Lurker:

    In Finland, schools don’t have dress codes. A pupil may dress anything that would not get him or her arrested for public obscenity when worn on the street or does not give an imminent reason to suspect that the pupil has a nervous breakdown. Essentially, this means that you must cover genitalia, and in case of females, nipples. With boys, the main issue is usually the key chain. If it is more than a meter long and more than an inch thick, it starts to raise suspicion that the chain is more a side arm than a key holder.

    When I was a junior high student in early 1990s, the girls’ fashion was extremely covering. The girls wore baggy sweaters or sweat shirts that did not reaveal any skin or even the general outline of their bodiess. Still, those girls distracted me. More than you can imagine.

    When I was doing my teacher training in mid-0′s (I’ve never actually worked as a teacher), the fashion was opposite. Bare midriff was rather popular. Yet, being now adult, I was no longer preoccupied with sex but was able to concentrate on my duty, which was to learn to be a teacher. Nonetheless, the adolescent boys were distracted with girls, but the discipline was by no means worse than in 1990s.

  182. cpinva:

    those have pretty much always ended in failure.

    “Think about it in terms of an arms race.”

    you might want to try picking a better analogy. although, i am beginning to wonder if maybe you haven’t been banned from teaching in middle-school, because you display an inordinate interest in how 12-13 year-old girls are dressed.

  183. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    Oh, absolutely not. Because you keep bringing up your goddamn DRESS CODE arguments when you know, unless you’re stupid (maybe, kinda?), that the author is not talking about enforcing a dress code that addresses boys’ clothing choices. The entirety of the article addresses girls and their clothes. She is not talking about a fashion arms race. She is not talking about boys clothes. She ONLY discusses girls and their lamentably sexy fashion choices. And that’s why the article is awful, pretty much from start to finish. If you can’t grasp that, well…gosh…I kinda feel sorry for you.

    Thing is, I suspect you know you’re wrong; you just don’t wanna admit it.

  184. Johnny Sack:

    I often felt that way. Even in college, and after I graduated with a mediocre GPA and a PoliSci major, I wondered how someone at 18ish can be expected to enter college and carpe diem the shit out of their experience from the start. Career changes are supposedly more common these days, which is good because, nearly 5 years out, I regret going to law school and want to go for something else.

  185. newsouthzach:

    Well, if he can’t get into a decent college, you can always send him to Texas A&M.

    On a more serious note, I had similar concerns about my younger brother. Not a lot of drive or focus, etc, etc. He ended up going to an OK state school, changing majors a couple of times, and finally finding his groove around his third year. Took him 5 to finish, but he did it and he’s gainfully employed, and nobody has asked to see his high school grades since he got to college.

  186. cpinva:

    you’re certain of this how, exactly?

    “But you don’t want 25 year olds in a 7th grade classroom”

    oh, wait, that’s right, his obsession with how 12-13 year-old girls are dressed.

  187. joe from Lowell:

    I suspect girls do a better job of hiding how much they are distracted by guys’ clothes.

    This is a good point. By “distracted,” I was thinking also in terms of “create distractions.” Not just the silent “having trouble concentrating” effect, but also the acting out.

    Moreover, I’m skeptical that you can substantially decrease sexual distraction between girls and boys

    Is it your experience that what people wear does not make them more of less sexually attractive, or noticeable?

    Perhaps my own experience is coloring my memory, but I was basically distracted by sex from the moment I went through puberty until my mid-twenties, with the peak years from 13-20.

    Certainly, we’re talking about degrees here. No dress code is ever going to completely eliminate is. It can mostly just blunt the sharper edges, address the more dramatic situations.

  188. Scott S.:

    Mmm. Pancakes.

  189. cpinva:

    i did.

    Or any boys either, for that matter.

    it’s taken me decades to recover.

  190. Karen:

    Anecdata is better than the information I’ve received from the school, which is THIS IS THE END OF THE WORLD!!!! Except for one counselor who closely questioned Andy about whether I was giving him huge amounts of grief for not being an honor student. Gee, guys, half your staff says kids lives will be over if they aren’t top 10% and the other half complains if the parents scold the kids about grades.

  191. joe from Lowell:

    What a stupid idea, that a person’s lived experience might give them insights into a situation that someone without that experience is more likely to lack!

    You mean like being a teacher? (Can I get a boo-yah?)

    Anyway, it would have been nice if you’d expressed an idea. Would you like to?

  192. Origami Isopod:

    I don’t think you should presume to speak for “girls,” Lindsay.

    Nah, she should let you mansplain to us what it’s like being a teenage girl, eh?

  193. Origami Isopod:

    That’s… really not helpful.

  194. r:

    I don’t think that defenders of dress codes should be saddled with the selective and often misogynistic enforcement patterns which most actual enforcers of dress codes have enacted. That dress codes are often enacted by busybodies and misogynists is perhaps a reason to scrutinize them closely as they are proposed and enforced, but it is otherwise logically independent from the question of whether dress codes are in themselves a good or bad idea.

    I also don’t think that there’s anything inherently gender-asymmetrical about dress codes as a concept. I spent a few summers teaching high school kids at a summer camp, and we wound up having to get some of the guys to cover up more–e.g., it’s not appropriate to be shirtless in the common areas, or we should find a different way of running this game than shirts vs. skins, and so on. And the reasons we did were similar to the ones already cited: it sexualized the atmosphere (of course, that is why they were doing it!), introducing all sorts of drama, it distracted the girls, and it exacerbated all the body anxieties of the boys who were less comfortable with their physiques.

    Now maybe we were wrong to try to get those guys to cover up, but regardless, I think the example shows that the same concerns can be just as much in play with boys as with girls and hence that they are in no way essentially gender-bound. So the idea of dress codes as inherently being about policing girls, slut shaming, etc., strikes me as off base. They’re about balancing individual freedom of expression with a whole set of concerns about the academic and social effects of such expression on other students.

  195. Origami Isopod:

    oh, wait, it could be because these same authoritarians are too fucking lazy to do their jobs, and it’s just a whole lot easier to make it the girl’s problem.

    On the money.

  196. Origami Isopod:

    Yeah, that’s a really telling analogy. Smacks too much for my taste of the sorts who go around whining how women are “assaulting” them by displaying their bodaciousness in public without letting them have a grope.

    Obligatory note to JfL: I am not saying that you actually do the above. But it is language I would expect to find in a forum with misogyny problems.

  197. Karen:

    I went to law school and am sorry I didn’t get the PhD in Classical Languages I really wanted. I was too much of a coward to tell my parents that I wanted the original useless degree.

    I really, really don’t want my kids to have that experience. My fear is that all the good opportunities go to the kids who are brilliant at age 12 and who start working towards their goal in 7th grade, but that someone who discovers later in life that he wants, say, a PhD, isn’t going to ever get that chance. I just wish he had a little more of even and general idea what he wants to do when he grows up.

    Oh, he wrote a novel. It’s not a very good novel, and with half the world spending November writing novels it’s not a big deal anymore, but he did write a couple-hundred page novel.

  198. joe from Lowell:

    The problem is, if you start punishing girls for their “inappropriate” clothes, the school is modeling the kind of shaming behavior that we’d like to discourage in students.

    I can certainly understand how that could happen, if the enforcement of dress codes are handled in a certain way. For instance, if the violators are subject to a “self respect” lecture.

    But I disagree with the assumption that such a problem is innate to the existence of dress codes. Would handing a student a detention slip and saying, “George, you know you’re not allowed to wear sneakers without laces,” count as slut-shaming? Rules against sleeveless tees? Is there some type or category of rule that would inherently do so, regardless of how it’s enforced?

  199. Karen:

    ‘even a general idea.’ Ugh. We can haz edit button nau?

  200. Johnny Sack:

    I understand it’s difficult when your kids are much different from you (speaking as an uncle, not a father though). But rest assured, as someone who slept through high school, I do not sleep under a bridge. I was far, far from Phi Beta Kappa or National Honor Society (although National Merit Finalist or whatever is just a step below National Merit Scholar).

  201. tonycpsu:

    This, a thousand times this.

  202. cpinva:

    using the word “obsessing”, when someone is very clearly obsessing, doesn’t qualify as rhetorical.

    “Using the word “obsessing” is not an argument. It’s just a rhetorical trick, the use of a pejorative term to avoid the need to make an argument.”

    and you’ve been flagrantly obsessing, about what 12-13 year-old girls wear in school, for this entire thread. go get yourself some professional medical help, you clearly need it.

  203. joe from Lowell:

    Nah, she should let you mansplain to us what it’s like being a teenage girl, eh?

    Kindly point out where I’ve presumed to explain what it’s like to be a teenage girl.

    I realize you are quite wound up, but that really doesn’t give you an excuse to just drag out your very favorite vocabulary words for no discernible reason.

  204. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    But the article isn’t about dress codes. It’s about girls dressing too sexy. That’s it. I’m not quite sure why some people are having such a hard time grasping this.

  205. Lurker:

    Sorry, I was not trying to write off community colleges. I just was trying to reassure Karen that a young man with a high school diploma can find ways to get ahead in life without Ivy League.

    As anywhere, the value of your education depends a lot on what you study. And community college in a practical field of study is definitely, from a job prospects perspective, a better choice than a bad quality “general studies” or “English” program in any university.

  206. Johnny Sack:

    Your son wrote a novel? That’s great! Good for him. Even if it’s not a Pulitzer finalist, I was far too ADHD to sit down and write something of that length (I was a frustrated and undisciplined creative-crappy band, writerly dreams). Shit, I was a layabout at that age. If he’s even mildly good, I’d encourage that. I wish my parents hadn’t tried to beat creativity out of me.

  207. tonycpsu:

    Reply fail, that was @”r” directly upthread.

  208. tonycpsu:

    In several comments here, you seem to have missed the fact that many of us who support dress codes don’t endorse much of anything Leahy wrote in the original piece.

  209. Lindsay Beyerstein:

    Joe, you tried to dismiss my argument as “an article of faith.” Well, I was a girl once. I’m telling you what I experienced, and what what my friends experienced. Or, are your personal experiences the only valid ones in this discussion?

    How do you think it feels for a girl to have a grown man or woman take a ruler to her hemline and pronounce it inappropriate? Probably pretty embarrassing, right?

    There was a time when dress codes were honest about their slut-shaming intent. You couldn’t wear lipstick or short skirts because those were for harlots.

    Nowadays, people like the Atlantic writer feel compelled to pretend that they don’t personally judge girls for their clothes, they just want to protect them from those mean boys who will certainly judge them. But their contempt seeps through in comments about how girls need dress codes learn “self-respect.”

  210. joe from Lowell:

    So now, because you’re such an awesome feminist, you are denying the existence of social pressure that young women experience in the area of their dress. That’s just something that I made up, because of how bigoted I am.

    Hokay.

    And if girls, living within a society that exerts such pressure, demonstrate any degree of agency in their choices, why, that makes it absurd to claim that they are subject to that pressure, and it makes it pointless to do anything about it.

    Hokay.

    It’s very clear who’s throwing the bigoted tantrum here.

    Blindingly.

  211. Dave:

    Cretin.

  212. Bitter Scribe:

    Oh go fuck yourself, you disingenuous thread-derailing putz.

  213. joe from Lowell:

    How committed are you to this division of labor in which I’m the only one who makes logical points, and you express your emotions and that’s it?

    Because I’m not totally on board with that.

  214. r:

    I was under the impression that some people in the comments objected to the notion of a dress code or to the possibility that there could be any legitimate concerns underlying it–specifically, because the actual concerns underlying them are misogynistic. As such, I wanted to say something about why I think that isn’t the case. I wasn’t trying to respond directly to the original article.

  215. Karen:

    I encourage ALL creative endeavors. Andy plays cello in the school orchestra and does quite well with it. As for the novel, all he asked me to do was not read any of it until he was finished, which I did. We take guitar lessons together, which gives him a chance to tease me about how bad I am at it.

  216. GRTiger:

    I suppose that answers my question as well, if “teach about sexism” needs to be defined so precisely, it would seem there would be little latitude to be able to have a teacher be an influencing person in the child’s learning process in this area.
    I suppose I am asking if the administration of schools try to use bullying as a inclusive coverall to stop non sanctioned actions without trying to address the reasons behind the non sanctioned actions. I suppose that addresses my concern better.
    and I used the phrase non sanctioned because some forms of discrimination are completely sanctioned in some subsections of our society and the schools that service those subsections.

  217. Hopelessly Naive:

    Godwin’s Law, “I’m a teacher”, “you’re not a parent”, all arguments that I would expect to see in comments on a post like this one. Proud defenses of Plessy v Ferguson, that I was not expecting.

  218. Karen:

    Ugh, again with the bad grammar. What I meant to say above is that I did not read Andy’s novel until after he completed it.

  219. joe from Lowell:

    Have you considered, Lindsay, that the change that has occurred isn’t merely a pretense?

    You’re personal experiences are perfectly valid as an explanation of what you experienced. They are not valid as a measure of how all dress codes, everywhere, must work, or what the motives of those who support them must be.

    But their contempt seeps through in comments about how girls need dress codes learn “self-respect.”

    I didn’t write the article, and won’t answer for the author.

    I’ve articulated my own thinking on this subject quite a bit on this thread, and the area of “self-respect” has played absolutely no role in my argument. Nor does it play any role in my thinking.

    Or do you think I’m lying about that, and that I’ve been carefully censoring myself, struggling against the desire to express this idea that you seem to take on faith that I must endorse?

  220. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    I’M for dress codes. Actually I’m for school uniforms. The dress code discussion is a non-sequitor and does nothing to address the author’s fixation on the girls’ sexy clothes.

  221. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    Yeah, I don’t think people think dress codes in and of themselves are a problem. I think what most people have a problem with is that the author’s article isn’t really about dress codes, it’s about “Hey, what’s with all the slutty clothes these girls are wearing?”

  222. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    Jesus. I’m going to go bang my head against the wall now.

  223. tt:

    I can’t find anything on dress codes either, but there are a few studies investigating the effect of school uniforms, probably because this data is easier to obtain or easier to classify. See this study and more recent studies which have cited it. Most seem to find no (or very small, in either direction) effect.

  224. tonycpsu:

    Well, as it happens, talking about tangents that deviate a bit from the topic of the post is among the oldest of Internet traditions. The Lahey piece and Hess’s response to it are worth talking bout, but so is the larger topic of dress codes in general.

  225. Dave:

    ISTM that the main issue here arises from the impression that adolescence is a problem you can solve, rather than just manage. We haven’t solved it yet, in the whole of recorded history…

  226. joe from Lowell:

    Now that’s always a sign of clear thinking!

    Clear thinking, like declaring that an affirmative action analogy derails a thread that began with this.

  227. expatchad:

    You’ve often met faithful cods? Most of the ones I know are agnostics.

  228. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    Thanks for that lesson about the Internet. I wasn’t aware. I’m all for tangents too…as long they don’t allow a person to weasel out of losing an argument.

  229. cpinva:

    and i guess those girls just couldn’t control themselves, eh? what bullshit. we played “shirts & skins” basketball in high school gym class, with girls in the same area. amazingly enough, not one of those girls ran over, and threw themselves on any of us. go figure.

  230. joe from Lowell:

    Standard anti-teacher bullshit. I’m supposed to prove you wrong about being a middle school teacher?

    Grow up.

  231. tonycpsu:

    There’s actually a lot of discussion up-thread in which people are saying exactly what you say they’re not saying, so I don’t know what to tell you. Slut-shaming: bad, dress codes: potentially good.

  232. cpinva:

    don’t bother, you won’t feel that much better when you stop, trust me.

  233. tonycpsu:

    Who’s weaseling?

  234. xxy:

    So now, because you’re such an awesome feminist, you are denying the existence of social pressure that young women experience in the area of their dress. That’s just something that I made up, because of how bigoted I am.

    Hokay.

    And if girls, living within a society that exerts such pressure, demonstrate any degree of agency in their choices, why, that makes it absurd to claim that they are subject to that pressure, and it makes it pointless to do anything about it.

    I’m not denying the existence of social pressure in how girls dress. But you seem to think there’s something wrong with a girl showing bare skin if she wants to. Your response to that social pressure is to police what girls wear.

    Why is it *their* agency that has to be compromised? Why do you reinforce that social pressure by implicitly (and in your case, explicitly) agreeing that boys and men only look at girls and women as sexual objects? Why don’t we stand up for their right to not be shamed or blamed for their appearance? Why don’t we comprehensively teach boys to treat girls as people?

    Because it’s “distracting”? That’s your lame excuse? That’s your feminis practice?

  235. joe from Lowell:

    those have pretty much always ended in failure.

    Exactly: and the arms race that takes place between girls always ends in failure and collateral damage. Hence, the desire to prevent it.

    Thanks for making my point.

    although, i am beginning to wonder if maybe you haven’t been banned from teaching in middle-school, because you display an inordinate interest in how 12-13 year-old girls are dressed.

    Yes, and liberals are the Real Racists for supporting affirmative action.

    On a thread full of idiotic performances, you’ve defined the bottom.

  236. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    Well, that and some whiskey. In an hour or so.

  237. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    I think Joe is.

  238. Johnny Sack:

    Good for you! I wish my mom had done that with me. You sound like a great parent. Give yourself some credit.

  239. joe from Lowell:

    Yeah, that’s a really telling analogy.

    You don’t seem to have understood it any better than cpinva.

    The arms race is between girls, trying to outdo each other by how they dress.

    I really admire the way you manage to read anything you don’t get in a manner most convenient for your self of superiority.

  240. tonycpsu:

    because you display an inordinate interest in how 12-13 year-old girls are dressed.

    That’s really uncalled for.

  241. Lindsay Beyerstein:

    Rebuking a girl for her hemline is not the same as rebuking a boy for his lack of shoelaces.

    You can’t separate dress code messages from slut-shaming messages for girls because girls are bombarded with messages about their perceived sexiness and/or sluttiness from their parents, their peers, the media, religion, and sometimes even random passers-by on the street.

    If the school tries to police their clothing, that’s the context in which it will be interpreted.

  242. Origami Isopod:

    Well, that was a convincing argument.

  243. Lurker:

    To add to my own rant: Finland is not perfect. Here, the main source of conflict in dress issues was the non-religious headgear. The commonly accepted middle-class manners require that people, especially boys, don’t wear hats (actually, baseball caps) in the class. This rule is enforced by most teachers, and is a constant source of trouble. I can see it as reinforcement of the social hierarchy, but not as a gender issue.

    I once had in a university class I was TAing a young man who wore a camouflage patrol cap, with the old US Army camouflage pattern. The guy was an adult, so I did not want to start experimenting with my non-existing authority. Instead of asking him to remove the cap, I simply politely asked whether he wished to tell me the reason he wore it. The cap was in the US Army pattern, so I presumed it was a political statement. Was he supporting the (then-current) US occupation of Iraq by wearing a uniform piece of the US Army? Or was he showing his opposition to it in the old anti-Vietnam War manner? I added that of course, he was free to dress as he liked and to express his fashion sense and political ideas as he liked, but I was just intrigued. The guy responded by removing the cap.

  244. Origami Isopod:

    As opposed, of course, to the holy mackerel.

  245. RhZ:

    This is the only sane comment in this whole thread. I don’t even know what everyone is arguing about. I assume (in this case quite safe) that no one is arguing that there should be no dress code whatsoever in middle school.

    If that is true, then the devil is in the details. And no one here has discussed those details.

  246. John:

    This is certainly true, although now that basketball stars dress like nerdy hipsters, you don’t get nearly the same level of panic about black kids dressing up like hipster nerds that you used to get about them dressing in baggy clothes. So obviously there’s some combination of racism with basic aesthetic preferences going on here.

  247. Origami Isopod:

    I really admire the way you manage to read anything you don’t get in a manner most convenient for your self of superiority.

    The irony.

  248. joe from Lowell:

    But you seem to think there’s something wrong with a girl showing bare skin if she wants to. Your response to that social pressure is to police what girls wear.

    It’s a time-and-place matter. I “police” boys who play catch in the classroom, too. Does this mean I hate boys? Does this mean I hate catch? Does this mean that I am teaching my class to “only” look at boys as sports-objects?

    Or does this mean that that particular behavior is not right for a classroom?

    Why is it *their* agency that has to be compromised? Why do you reinforce that social pressure by implicitly (and in your case, explicitly) agreeing that boys and men only look at girls and women as sexual objects? Why don’t we stand up for their right to not be shamed or blamed for their appearance? Why don’t we comprehensively teach boys to treat girls as people?

    Why do you imagine that the two are mutually-exclusive? Why don’t we teach young people about dressing appropriately for different situations and teach boys to treat girls as people?

    Because it’s “distracting”? That’s your lame excuse?

    I really don’t need anyone who hasn’t ever set foot in front of a middle school class to tell me that what I know about teaching is merely a lame excuse. Even the nearly-universally-understood observations I make are ideologically problematic for you.

  249. r:

    Only on the most extraordinarily uncharitable reading of what I wrote would this count as a refutation.

  250. xxy:

    I’m starting to think the person with the biggest distraction problem in joe from Lowell’s classroom is himself.

  251. Gone2Ground:

    Maybe I’m being thick here, but what is the obsession with “a top school”? Especially if you son just isn’t that into school. Maybe it would be better to focus on getting a degree that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg – or even, hey, going to community college and then transferring to University for two years to cut out the huge debt. Plus, having a job and going to school can be terribly eye-opening to the huge benefits of college, especially with some more adult perspective.

    And don’t think all “blue collar types” involve plumbing or concrete….there are plenty of great paying occupations in construction or related trades that are white collar jobs that require college, but I can almost guarantee you NOBODY will ever ask where you went to school, unless it is as a casual conversation.

  252. RhZ:

    As someone who was once seemingly similar to your son, I would say let him explore a bit. Maybe focus him on how the GPA matters whatever he decides to do, but not everyone needs or wants to have a perfectly clear goal by the time they are 16. Heck, among those from my HS who did have clear goals, I wonder how many of them had to deal with serious failure for not reaching those goals. I know about some but not others…

  253. Vance Maverick:

    Stepping back from the question of how strictly some other commenter meant some sweeping statement, how much is a school rule like parental influence? A little, but not much, I think.

  254. joe from Lowell:

    You can’t separate dress code messages from slut-shaming messages for girls because girls are bombarded with messages about their perceived sexiness and/or sluttiness from their parents, their peers, the media, religion, and sometimes even random passers-by on the street.

    If the school tries to police their clothing, that’s the context in which it will be interpreted.

    As part of a comprehensive dress code, one that lists “skirt length” right between “shoelaces” and “smocks, paint stains,” skirt length becomes another rule with the same implications as shoe laces and smock appearance.

    You are taking a valid critique that applies to a specific case, and assuming that it must apply in different situations. The stories in which girls are singled out as the only ones who get in trouble for dress code violations, or who get lectured about “self-respect” or even “distracting the boys” do make an important point about that experience, but I disagree that getting in trouble for a dress code violation must always operate the same way. Context matters. Specifics matter.

  255. joe from Lowell:

    Hey, look, another one of your favorite vocabulary words that make you feel superior.

  256. RhZ:

    If he likes the math, you might encourage that. Math is a very good area to focus on (I say, somewhat regretfully).

    Then again, I was fine in algebra. Then geometry happened.

  257. joe from Lowell:

    Yeeeeah…no. That’s not what that means.

  258. joe from Lowell:

    And liberals are the real racists. They’re just obsessed with race.

    Yawn.

  259. joe from Lowell:

    So basically you’re arguing for rules that will dictate how attractive people can be.

    I’m for rules limiting how much students in middle school classrooms can use clothing to make themselves more attractive. Yup.

    I’m starting to think the person with the biggest distraction problem in joe from Lowell’s classroom is himself.

    And liberals are the real racists. They’re just obsessed with race.

  260. joe from Lowell:

    and you’ve been flagrantly obsessing, about what 12-13 year-old girls wear in school, for this entire thread.

    It’s a thread about dress codes. I have been exactly as “obsessed” (meaning, I’ve been discussing the topic of the post) as everyone else who’s written comments here.

    Including you. Why are you so obsessed with what middle school girls wear? Huh? Huh? You keep writing comments about the subject, you sicko.

  261. RhZ:

    Ok granted, but the tedious argument here is, so far, dress codes for middle school: yea or nay?

    Where do you stand on that, Lindsey? I think you could really help the discussion here progress or end, either of which would be preferable to the pissing match we have so far.

  262. joe from Lowell:

    Proud defenses of Plessy v Ferguson

    WTF?

    The argument you misunderstood is exactly the opposite of Plessy v Ferguson.

  263. joe from Lowell:

    So, even though I don’t, actually, make any of the arguments you with to attribute to me, and you admit this, you’re still going to attribute them to me.

    Just because.

    Further, you’re going to ignore all of the arguments I make, and continue to insist that I’m wrong because of these other arguments, even though you acknowledge I don’t make them.

    This is not honest behavior.

  264. RhZ:

    But but but, as I understand in Joe is *also* pro-dress-code! You two are arguing about nothing from what I can see.

  265. joe from Lowell:

    …says the woman who just acknowledged that I wasn’t making the arguments she assigned to me, but insists on her right to condemn for them anyway.

  266. xxy:

    It’s a time-and-place matter. I “police” boys who play catch in the classroom, too. Does this mean I hate boys? Does this mean I hate catch? Does this mean that I am teaching my class to “only” look at boys as sports-objects?

    Or does this mean that that particular behavior is not right for a classroom?

    Why do you imagine that the two are mutually-exclusive? Why don’t we teach young people about dressing appropriately for different situations and teach boys to treat girls as people?

    Can you tell me why it’s inappropriate behavior? Baseballs cause serious injuries. Has anyone ever been injured by a bare shoulder or calf? How can you seriously think calling that inappropriate behavior is not sexist? You really think making a girl feel ashamed and embarrassed for what she’s wearing is even in the same league as making a student feel ashamed and embarrassed for putting other students at risk of serious injury?

    I really don’t need anyone who hasn’t ever set foot in front of a middle school class to tell me that what I know about teaching is merely a lame excuse. Even the nearly-universally-understood observations I make are ideologically problematic for you.

    Excuse me for thinking I could have an opinion about something I experienced not that long ago and that I could empathize with girls currently in middle school. What you know about teaching has little to do with what you know about slut-shaming.

  267. RhZ:

    I think everyone in this thread needs a time out. Including me. :-)

  268. Gone2Ground:

    I’m 44 with no clear goals…..

    Seriously – there are lots and lots of real careers that are interesting and fulfilling that don’t involve either a cubicle or an apron and that pay really well.

    Don’t panic – as a HS freshman, I’m sure most people (except those high achievers everyone hears about in the Christmas letter) have no idea what they want to do. You know why that is – because they have no idea what’s out there.

  269. joe from Lowell:

    Apparently, Dr. Noisewater is allowed to be pro-dress-code, because she’s for it for the right reasons.

    However, I am for it for the wrong reasons. Even though she acknowledges upthread that I don’t actually articulate them, she just knows what lurks in my dark heart.

  270. Gone2Ground:

    If he doesn’t really like school now, why in the world are you worried about graduate school? And, as I mentioned above, graduating with a single four-year degree is a great ticket to a good job….

  271. delurking:

    I can’t believe JFL is serious about this one.

    Hey, y’all, have you ever — I mean even once — heard of a boy getting away with something because of how a girl was dressed?

    You know. Even once?

  272. xxy:

    You are not the crusading feminist you think you are, joe from Lowell.

  273. delurking:

    You do something about the problem by slut-shaming girls.

    Do I have that right?

    I guess I’m just not following your argument here, JFL.

  274. McAllen:

    Because, as you might or might not remember, most of that reinforcement comes from girls’ peers, not their teachers. Dress codes, among other benefits, reduce the opportunity for such negative reinforcement, at least as far as clothing and fashion are concerned.

    No they don’t, they just make it so negative reinforcement is coming from the school instead of their peers.

  275. joe from Lowell:

    Can you tell me why it’s inappropriate behavior? Baseballs cause serious injuries. Has anyone ever been injured by a bare shoulder or calf?

    Balls of paper do not cause serious injuries. Can you figure out why I don’t let students play catch with them, either?

    How can you seriously think calling that inappropriate behavior is not sexist?

    For the reasons I’ve already explained over and over. I don’t expect you to get them if I try again, so whatever.

    You really think making a girl feel ashamed and embarrassed for what she’s wearing is even in the same league as making a student feel ashamed and embarrassed for putting other students at risk of serious injury?

    I reject your assertion that any enforcement of school rules must involve making students “feel ashamed and embarrassed.” Do you think the boys who toss paper balls feel “ashamed and embarrassed” when I tell them to knock it off? And I’ve already answered the non-seq. about “physical injury.” It’s not about injury, but about classroom decorum and distraction.

    Excuse me for thinking I could have an opinion about something I experienced not that long ago and that I could empathize with girls currently in middle school.What you know about teaching has little to do with what you know about slut-shaming.

    You can have an opinion; what you cannot do is tell me that what I know about classrooms, and you don’t, is a “lame excuse.”

  276. T. Paine:

    Why put a burden on girls at all? Since boys are distracted, we should address the source of the distraction: Boys. They should be required to wear blinders any time they’re in school so they can only see straight ahead.

    Oh, that’s unrealistic? Hmm, sucks to be a boy, doesn’t it? Oh well.

  277. RhZ:

    I think in the US in a lot of areas, no dress code would lead to some pretty horrendous attire. I can’t speak to the dynamics of it clearly, but I think there is a lowest common denominator that is, again in some areas, inevitable without a dress code.

  278. Gone2Ground:

    Not only “all the good opportunities”, but perhaps also all the nervous breakdowns and emotional problems, too.

    I personally think we push kids way, way too hard these days – for a million reasons I don’t want to go into here – but if the school is flipping out because he’s not burning down the house academically, then it sounds like a hothouse of pressure…..I’m sure you don’t want to add to that.

    Any kid who whote a novel has some gumption and creativity. I’m sure he’ll do fine.

  279. delurking:

    My kid is not an idiot or ignorant, because I haven’t raised her to be ignorant or an idiot, so this sort of problem would not arise, but if she decided she wanted to go to a party dressed as a Nazi or in black face, yes, I would explain why that was not a good idea.

    (Eye-roll.)

    That’s called parenting, and I do it.

    And do you know what would happen after that? She would listen to me. Do you know why? Because (as I said above) we’re not enemies. She knows I don’t give her information just to be a prick. She knows I have her best interest at heart. Why does she know this? Because I’ve demonstrated it over and over, by acting as though her body is her own; and (among other things) by letting her make her own choices, over and over.

  280. RhZ:

    You say potatoe, I say potatoe, let’s call the whole thing off.

    Seriously, let’s just call it off, shall we? No one is going to get anything positive out of this discussion anymore.

    Except me, my insomnia is cured! Praise Jeebus!!

  281. Anna in PDX:

    Karen i endorse this comment. Neither of my boys were academic like I was and I felt exactly like you do. But all my worrying did not make them more like me. One got mediocre grades until senior year when they shot up, then took a year off in which he took some community college, and then started at a four year school, state not private and fancy like mine,and he is doing ok, and I am still learning every day that my kids are not me and just maybe, that will be ok.

    The other is in Job Corps and probably won’t go to collegee, this is really hard for me to understand but still I have to keep realizing he is living his life, not mine..

    This continues to be hard, but it does get easier as I learn more about them and myself.

    Good luck…

  282. McAllen:

    So the argument here is “Dress codes don’t just affect girls, they also affect black kids, so they’re A-OK!”

  283. delurking:

    As for the sexy-time clothing, well, I’ve raised her as a feminist, so she’s not much into clothing that makes her look like a sex object. So far it doesn’t arise.

    If it ever does — if she ever wants to dress like a sex object, I mean — I imagine I’ll give her advice on why that might or might not be a good idea for the given situation she’s in.

    Although, you know, she’s 14. She’s only going to be in a position to need my advice for a very few more years here.

  284. wjts:

    My fear is that all the good opportunities go to the kids who are brilliant at age 12 and who start working towards their goal in 7th grade, but that someone who discovers later in life that he wants, say, a PhD, isn’t going to ever get that chance.

    Not necessarily. I had good-but-not-great high school grades, went to a pretty good college, and was certain at 22 that I’d never want to go back to school again. After spending a few years in the workforce, I wound up going back for a PhD in anthropology/primatology in my 30s, a field that I’d never had any interest in in high school or college. If you told my C+/B- high school biology student self that in 20 years I’d be writing a doctoral dissertation on comparative primate anatomy, I never would have believed you.

  285. delurking:

    Dude, we’re Jewish. The kid’s not going to dress like a Nazi. Fuck’s sake.

  286. delurking:

    And whether you believe me or not, no, I would not “forbid” her to wear Nazi regalia if she took it into her head to want to.

    It’s her body. She does what she wants to with it.

    Do you have daughters? Are you seriously going to control what they do what their bodies? What kind of a message are you sending to them by telling them you’re in control of their bodies?

  287. Anonymous:

    1) Make sure he’s doing his homework, not ignoring school entirely (sounds like you’re already doing that).

    2) Be a good, supportive parent, encourage him to pursue a variety of interests, teach him to be a good person, encourage him in areas where he succeeds.

    3) Accept that you can’t control the future.

  288. djw:

    +1

  289. McAllen:

    I mean, I guess dress codes are OK in theory, but 1) I just don’t see the alleged benefits, and 2) in practice they usually seem to come out as sexist (and racist, and the drooping pants example demonstrates) so I don’t think we should bother.

  290. Scott S.:

    …and delish maple syrup…

  291. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    I mean, I think there has to be *some* standard, but I think you make a fair point.

  292. xxy:

    You know how I know you work in a middle school? Because you see students as terrors to be controlled, not people trying to learn how the world works.

    And you learn that when you complain about being harassed to a teacher or school administrator, they may or may not choose to believe you or deal with it. But they can see your dress code violation in front of them plain and clear, so they write you up. Maybe they never take you seriously because you don’t dress like an upstanding young girl, a girl who doesn’t break the rules and follows the dress code. And then you get to high school. and then to college, and then to an office and you find out that’s how the world works.

    So I guess in a roundabout way you’re doing your students a favor. Better to teach them early so they have plenty of practice on how to deal with it.

  293. Bas-O-Matic:

    1. I flunked ninth grade. I turned out all right and have a post-graduate degree and a nice house in an inner ring suburb and a pretty nice life all things considered. A 2.75 GPA in ninth grade is hardly anything to freak out about. If his grades take a sudden nise dive and you don’t know why, that’s when you get concerned. But struggling a little bit navigating the change from middle to high school is pretty normal.

    2. 14 is hardly the point when one is rapidly running out of time to figure out what you want to do with your life. A lot of people don’t figure that out until after college or even into their 30s.

    3. There are lots of good schools other than Texas. Even in the state of Texas. If you live in Austin, it may be for the best that he goes to an out of town school anyway.

    4. Some kids aren’t ready for college at 18. I was hardly a dimwit, but didn’t take my first go through seriously, and didn’t end up getting a degree until later on. Taking on a bunch if student loans to flounder around for 3 years before you figure things out isn’t exactly smart.

  294. FLRealist:

    Dress codes that focus on how girls dress reinforce the idea that boys (and later men) have the right to blame females for their own lack of self-control.

    Telling a boy he has the wrong type of shoe is not the same as telling a girl she’s showing too much skin and the boys can’t concentrate.

    Personally, I think a girl should be able to go to school in a bikini, sit at her desk and work, and not get blamed for other people’s actions.

  295. Pestilence:

    +1

  296. DrDick:

    Exactly! As someone who grew up when strict dress codes were the rule, they did absolutely nothing to reduce our distraction. When you are 13, sex is all you think about. The girls could have worn burqas and we would still have been distracted.

  297. mds:

    The female commenters in this thread, however, have no germane insights into being female students. How convenient that only one type of personal experience can be relevant.

  298. Anonymous:

    In the same way that affirmative action reinforces racial stereotypes?

    O, Oi see. “joe” thinks educating girls about the power of their dirty pillows is good for them. Got it. Prat.

  299. Anonymous:

    Little girls’ bodies are NOT sexual distractions, you fucking asshole.

  300. Gareth Wilson:

    Amanda’s argument works exactly as well for a parent as for a school, doesn’t it?

  301. bobbyp:

    Didn’t Trotsky resolve this matter with the concept of permanent revolution?

  302. Anonymous Won:

    Cool story, bro.

  303. Anonymous Won:

    Telling a boy he has the wrong type of shoe is not the same as telling a girl she’s showing too much skin and the boys can’t concentrate.

    Which feeds right into the type of rape justification that claims a women/girl who is sexually assaulted is partly responsible based on what she was wearing.

  304. Anonymous:

    I know this was once a black thing but now I think it really is a most males thing. My son who is white was mocked for wearing jeans that came up past his hips.

  305. Colin Day:

    Dress codes, which apply to both boys and girls (no matter how many times you wish to pretend they do not, so you can then argue that they only apply to girls)

    And as Anatole France would reply: The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.

  306. Karen:

    Thanks. My observation is that there is always a market for someone who can do creative work. MBA’s and lawyers are a dime a dozen, but a guy who can write a good action scene, not so much.

    Interestingly, I don’t worry nearly so much about my younger son, who has had to have math and reading tutoring in elementary school. Aaron can play piano by ear and has won prizes for his drawings. Real prizes, not just stuff from the school.

  307. RhZ:

    The pro-maroon people were presumed to be pro-teal, while the anti-teal people were assumed to be anti-maroon. And then the fun* started.

    * Not to indicate that anything even approaching fun is involved.

  308. RepubAnon:

    Actually, yes – males often get away with certain actions because of how the female was dressed. Indeed, for many years allegations of rape were ignored if the woman was “dressed provocatively.”

    This is why these “dress codes” hit a raw nerve. Are there non-sexist dress codes? Certainly. However, obsessing about hemlines leads me to wonder what other restrictions are placed on women versus men (or girls versus boys). If the dress codes are designed to allow males to wear normal stylish clothes, while females are restricted to wearing dresses with specified hemlines, cleavage, and arm coverings – I’d say that the dress codes were, in fact, a form of sexual harassment.

    This isn’t particularly unusual, either – lots of companies have come to grief by putting sexist dress codes in place.

  309. DocAmazing:

    Shorter jfL: “Don’t you know who I am?”

  310. Anonymous:

    Your analogy makes no sense.

    Affirmative actions refers to a suite of methods used (often inexpertly) to the address some of the consequences of an historical wrong, manifesting as unequal access of PoCs to housing, education, employment, and professional development. How does blaming young women for their own oppression (patriarchy), and asking them to stop behaving like young women are wont to do so within a patriarchy, function the same way?

    Affirmative action: expands choices for PoC and partially limits the ability of bigots to harm PoC.
    School dress codes aimed at young women’s “sexuality”: further limits their choices, perpetuates the harmful concept of gate-keeping.

    The other similarity is the claim that having a rule about skirt length is “measuring them by their hemlines,” which echoes that claim that having an affirmative action program is “judging people by their race.”

    Hint: it benefits only white men (it, in fact, resembles white male affirmative action) when white men insist that the present-day world be blind to race, gender, and sex, remove the personal from the political.

  311. Phil:

    So what kind of rhetorical trick is “When was the last time YOU were in a classroom, Ms. Lady?”

  312. Barry:

    No, because that gives them another tool.
    Like you.

  313. jmack:

    As a fellow teacher, my only question for you Joe is how in the hell could you have enough time in your life to comment this much on this thread?

  314. Barry:

    G-d d_mn, just when I think that JfL can’t sink any lower. The only consolation is that he has a looooooooooooooooooooooot of time on a Saturday to post his sexist garbage. I’m guessing that he has a hard time finding dates :)

  315. RhZ:

    you didn’t….read the whole thread, did you?

  316. Spokane Moderate:

    No! Of course not!

    (Hangs head, scuffs dirt with toe)

    Yes.

  317. RhZ:

    Ha! I seriously wanted to stop about halfway through. Somehow I kept going. Pls don’t think less of me.

  318. joe from Lowell:

    You know how I know you work in a middle school? Because you see students as terrors to be controlled, not people trying to learn how the world works.

    I’ll make sure I take your opinion about teaching very, very seriously, because you obviously have such profound understanding of the field and the people who work in it.

    Also, classroom discipline. You clearly have a mature, informed understanding of that.

  319. joe from Lowell:

    …and when you end up with your proposal for how to maintain good order in a classroom as “That’s unrealistic, it sucks to be a boy,” you FAIL at teaching.

    This isn’t an exercise in ideological conformity for the people you put in charge of running schools and educating children. Unlike your little “I’m a better leftist” game, what we do actually matters, and if the outcome “sucks,” that matters, too.

  320. joe from Lowell:

    No, it takes away tools.

    The mandated ignorance about early-adolescent culture on this thread is appalling.

  321. joe from Lowell:

    Which would be quite apt, if boys didn’t wear clothes.

  322. joe from Lowell:

    That would be great, except that I haven’t claimed that they didn’t.

  323. joe from Lowell:

    You are blind, perhaps willfully, perhaps out of genuine ignorance, to the realities of how dress can operate in a classroom, and within student culture, if you don’t understand that the very things you decry are already present.

    Like the opponent of affirmative action, you are pretending that the (imperfect) solution is actually the introduction of these things.

  324. joe from Lowell:

    telling a girl she’s showing too much skin and the boys can’t concentrate.

    On the other hand, telling her that her clothing doesn’t fit the dress code, without the lecture about boys concentrating, does not. Why are you imagining that every enforcement of dress code rules requires a lengthy explanation, as opposed to “that doesn’t meet the dress code?”

    Personally, I think a girl should be able to go to school in a bikini, sit at her desk and work,

    Yes, you do. And if nothing gets done in that class and nobody learns anything, you’re fine with that, because you have higher priorities. Goof for you.

  325. joe from Lowell:

    No, I’m just a teacher concerned with education.

    I guess that’s the difference. My goal is for kids to learn, and yours is to be a crusading feminist, even if it comes at the expense of learning.

  326. joe from Lowell:

    No, you don’t have that right.

    The unbreakable connection between enforcing dress code rules and “slut-shaming girls” is bogus. The latter does not inherently require the former.

  327. joe from Lowell:

    And this is your experience from your years teaching in classrooms, is it?

    You’re wrong. You’re factually wrong.

  328. joe from Lowell:

    Adding “Ms. Lady” and the end a rhetorical trick known as “straw-manning.”

    You just couldn’t help yourself, could you? Please, lecture me about the honesty of my argumentation some more.

  329. joe from Lowell:

    Nope.

    But if you haven’t figured out the argument by now, I doubt you will.

    This type of stupidity makes up way too much of this thread.

  330. joe from Lowell:

    Imagine, thinking that teachers know something about teaching!

  331. joe from Lowell:

    School vacation this week.

  332. joe from Lowell:

    The side that ends up throwing out insults like “pedophile” and “can’t find dates” is generally the losing side.

  333. Colin Day:

    Replying to Joe from Lowell

    Are you saying that boys and girls are equally affected by dress codes?

  334. LosGatosCA:

    Make that ‘professional’

  335. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    Generally, but not in this case.

  336. Miscellanea | Fraser Sherman's Blog:

    [...] Remember, eep op ork ah ah means Meet Me Tonight. •More on stereotypes and science. •LGM responds to a post in The Atlantic arguing that dress codes for girls are a good thing. •A reporter [...]

  337. RhZ:

    You. Two. Are. Not. In. Disagreement. OK?

  338. RhZ:

    Christ.

  339. McAllen:

    And this is your experience from your years teaching in classrooms, is it?

    As has been pointed out to you already, positioning yourself as the sole, unquestionable authority on this issue (a greater authority than, say, the women who have told you how dress codes negatively affect them) does your argument no credit.

    You’re wrong. You’re factually wrong.

    The idea behind dress codes is that if students don’t adhere to them there will be some form of punishment from the school, even if it’s minor, no? We can of course discuss whether this negative reinforcement is worth the benefits, but I don’t see how you can deny negative reinforcement exists.

  340. delurking:

    “That would be great, except that I haven’t claimed that they didn’t.”

    Yes, Joe From Lowell, you have, and more than once. You’ve told us not to speak for women; you’ve told us we don’t know what it’s like to be a a young woman in a classroom being judged for our bodies; you’ve told us that being sent out of that classroom for being dressed inappropriately isn’t humiliating; you’ve told us our experience counts as nothing next to yours (over and over).

    I understand why you think you have authority here, since you’ve got your boots on the ground, as it were. I ask you to consider that as women we too have experience you should listen to.

  341. delurking:

    Asserting it’s bogus doesn’t make it bogus.

    Explain to me how having your teacher discipline you for exposing too much of your body (too much boob, too much ass, too much leg) in front of your peers (male and female) does not translate to slut-shaming when you are a middle-school girl.

    This is what I mean by you not have been a young woman, Joe. You have no idea what this feels like to a young woman, obviously.

    There is no way to do that to a young girl and *not* have it be slut-shaming, no matter what rosy stories you are telling yourself.

  342. Anonymous:

    And yet here you are, wanting to perpetuate and expand these inequalities. Your small, sheltered experiences as an adult male teacher are not just completely irrelevant, they are actual proof of what everyone else is saying, doooooooooooood.

  343. jmack:

    Enjoy the break, although work isn’t really done until June.

  344. Saurs:

    You lack objectivity, confuse your own bias for psychic insight, wish to impose the morality of a small minority (in this case, prudish twelve year-old boys) onto the rest of the world, defend oppression and the status quo by claiming them “natural,” and desire to re-direct every conversation not about you towards your own limited experiences.

    Congratulations, you are a walking embodiment of the interwebs. I award you no points, and may god have mercy on your soul.

    Can we now cease broadcasting the joe from Lowell show and get back to the conversation at hand, minus your feeble reasoning and snarky sanctimony?

    Thanks in advance,
    Everyone else, ever

  345. Saurs:

    No, it’s not. joe thinks that the temporary mindset of young men should dictate how young women are treated. He’s consciously or subconsciously sexualizing girls, and then blaming girls for turning him and the girls’ peers on.

  346. Anonymous:

    BOTH SIDES R EQUIL!! Shut the fuck up, dude. Sick of your tone-trolling the tail end of every thread.

  347. djangermats:

    independent from the question of whether dress codes are in themselves a good or bad idea.

    No it isnt

  348. djangermats:

    Sure thing, Michael Brutsch

Leave a comment