I’ve been amazed at the number of comments that just don’t get it over at my post at The Nation on the way dress codes can discriminate against women. (And the way school administrators and faculty can use said code to sexually harass young women.)
What’s been truly interesting to me is the way that commenters continue to make the same argument that Stuyvesant’s principal did: that the way some young women dress is “distracting.” That men can’t help but look at these young women and their supposedly scandalous attire - and that this overwhelming desire to ogle young women means that school work isn’t being properly paid attention to.
This “distraction” standard for a dress code sets up a model in which the default student we are concerned about - the student whose learning we want to ensure is protected - is male. It presumes that female students are a distraction to male students’ learning, and therefore it’s young women’s actions that must be policed.
But what about the way that the young women of Stuyvesant are being “distracted” from their studies by a school that harasses and slut-shames? What’s more distracting - glancing at a girls’ legs or being pulled from class, humiliated, and made to change outfits before you’re allowed to learn?