A high school in Auckland, New Zealand recently faced some severe social media bashing at the hands of a group of high school girls who felt wronged and objectified by the norms instilled by their principal, Mike Purcell.
The female students at Henderson High were asked to wear their uniform skirts below knee length with the rationale being that male students and workers must not be distracted by female students’ bodies, and in turn, this would maintain the safety in the school.
Did I read that right? Teenage girls now have to worry about their adolescent legs being sexual objects that entice the men on the school grounds? Is this really the biggest concern a 16-year-old girl must have? Well, this is surely what the authorities are teaching them.
Implementing uniform codes is the right of every educational institution. The game changer, however, is how these rules come to pass. By telling a girl that her dress is distracting her fellow male peers — or worse, the workers at her school — is preparing her to live a life full of fears inside and outside the school environment. Whatever happened to raising stronger and wiser children with minds of their own? Telling a girl she needs to worry about her sexuality ahead of her education or profession is telling her she is nothing more than her body. Imagine if a highly qualified professional was asked to alter the length of her skirt before a board meeting so as not to divert the attention of the board from her presentation to her legs. This is exactly what we are setting up our girls to be OK with in their futures.
We campaign for feminism, and yet we exemplify sexism in the most natural of ways. Despite wanting to be better, we fall flat on our faces because of our mindsets that are rooted so firmly in bigotry. It’s time to change the norm, and it all starts with the simple process of watching what leaves our mouth. While I understand that sexism is something we all have in our ancestral blood and that might take a long time to leave our veins, we will get nowhere without taking the necessary baby steps every day.
Let people enjoy their bodies and allow them to focus on things other than their sexuality. We all have a lot of hard work to do before we are written about on social media for reasons better than our skirts.