I shan’t name them. It would be unfair. Because so many schools, in one form or another, are doing this nowadays (I wrote about it before, a couple of months back), and just because they are local and I happen to know what they’re up to doesn’t mean they deserve to be singled out for it.
A draft set of guidelines for what sixth-formers are supposed to wear at school lands in my inbox. There’s the usual appeal to standardization of kit and attempts to ban some of the more outlandish manifestations of current fashion. “Ugg” boots are out – though why they pick on THAT particular form of footwear and hardly any other, I don’t know.
OK. Flip flops, too, which I would personally find very irritating. No doubt someone, somewhere in the school would weasel round that one on grounds of “health and safety” – although without, I guess, any real stats to back it up.
Besides, in theory, the point is already covered off in what the school considers acceptable. Option 1 calls for black sensible shoes – although option 2 downgrades that to merely asking for black shoes.
It’s a difficult call. Very obviously, though, there is some sort of mindset running through this document that prizes a certain middle-of-the-road aesthetic, doesn’t much like “fashion”, and believes that conformity is good for discipline. Or something. Why else, I wonder, do they have it in for “asymmetric” tops?
But the thing that caught my eye – not least because it was set out in boldest of bold type – was the following, appearing at the end of the verboten section:
Any clothing which allows underwear or décolletage to be displayed
OMG! It’s a knicker thing! Though they won’t say so. And décolletage? I checked on Wikipedia, that infallible guide to all things contemporary. They explain it thus: “the upper part of a woman’s torso, between her waist and neck, comprising her neck, shoulders, back and chest, that is exposed by the style of her clothing.
“However”, they go on, ”the term is most commonly applied to a neckline which reveals or emphasizes cleavage”.
Ah. That’s more like it. Its about boobs! Which are… a natural and wholesome part of the human body, so…
Darn! I forgot! Boobs are provocative. We’re back in the land of the helpless male who, no sooner spies a bit of cleavage, then he just cannot stop himself from whipping out Mr Willy and groping the shameless hussy who has led him on so!
As another blogger (I wish I could find the link) wrote so eloquently a few weeks back: its all the fault of big-breasted women. Because if it weren’t for them, men just wouldn’t be forced to act the way they do.
Puh-lease! This entire logic is so wrong, I don’t know where to start. Except, once again, it situates the blame for male abuse firmly and squarely on the (bare) shoulders of women.
By inserting this provision into the uniform code and then highlighting it as one of the most important aspects of what is expected, the school is implicitly endorsing this set of values. Worse, it is actively preaching them.
For its own sake, I hope that the school would come down just as hard on boys who took off their shirt when summer gets into its stride. Otherwise, the road to an equalities lawsuit beckons.
I doubt it will.