A local high school to me, Trentham High School, has recently banned female pupils from wearing skirts. According to headteacher Dr Blencowe in The Independent, it was a “safeguarding measure” to stop male teachers and pupils from being distracted by them.
There is so much wrong with this.
This is just the latest in the long history of women being blamed for men’s mistreatment of them. “Safeguarding” girls from their male teachers by stopping them wearing a skirt implies that if anything bad happens to them it’s the fact they’re wearing a skirt, not that the man in question has stepped out of line. This is our history as women. The fact women are abused and raped in nun’s habits and burkhas, as well as bikinis and mini skirts, seems to be ignored in favour of blaming a woman for being sexually attractive and the poor men are assumed unable to control themselves.
If the boys in the class aren’t concentrating then tell them off. Discipline them. Make them do extra home work to catch up, or stay behind after class. Do not turn the blame from the poor boy who can’t be expected to cope around female skin onto the girl he is too busy leering at to study his fractions. I would also assume that whomever thought up this as a reason has never spoken to anyone who remembers being a teenage boy. If they think the sex drive of the adolescent male can be switched off by the covering of girl’s legs then they are about to be sorely disappointed.
There was a girl in my school who had an affair with a teacher. She was fifteen he was late twenties. It wasn’t because she was wearing a skirt it was because he abused his position and took advantage of her. I don’t care how much she may have flirted, I don’t care how beautiful she was, and I don’t care if her skirt only just covered her bum (a criticism of girls in this school). He was wrong, she was the victim. I would suggest that if you can’t trust your teaching staff not to look up the skirts of the girl’s they’re teaching then what your first move should be is to fire them. The teacher is the adult. The teacher is aware how old the pupils he is teaching are. The teacher should treat that position with the respect it deserves and if a fifteen year old girl in a skirt prevents that then they are certainly in the wrong job.
We, as a society, need to start accepting that women have bodies. They’re essentially all the same, and they have essentially been all the same since we evolved into the peculiar bipedal creatures we are today. Men’s bodies are never shamed for being sexually distracting, yet other than genitals we all have pretty much the same stuff going on, plus or minus some breast tissue. Women are never reassured that we are failing because men are too pretty or showing too much skin. Women are never excused for sexually assaulting men because they were shirtless or showing leg. Men are protected, forgiven, because women dare to have bodies, dare to expose them, and dare to demand the same respect from society as men are automatically given just because they were born with a penis.
To many it will seem like a small issue, but it isn’t, it’s the beginning of what will be a shame spiral in these young women’s lives that starts now and won’t end until they give a big “F*CK YOU” to the powers that be, and who knows what they’re going to be blamed for between now and then. And until then they will believe it because they’ve got them whilst they’re young.
I hope Trentham High School reconsider this rule. I hope they will respect their female pupil’s rights and bodies, demand higher standards of the men on campus, and help put an end to this ridiculous trend of shaming women into believing their bodies are to blame for any wrong doings they have to endure at the hands of men.
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