Boys Will Be Boys and Girls Will Be Sluts

Boys Will Be Boys and Girls Will Be Sluts

When will school dress-codes stop slut-shaming girls?
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It is always surprising to me that the words ‘slut’, ‘hoe’, and ‘whore’ are thrown around so casually and regularly in conversation. Many conversations where girls are slut-shamed because of something they have done or how many people they have hooked up with are looked upon as taboo, but when it comes to what a girl is wearing, conversation is commonplace. Conversation about what girls are wearing is encouraged by schools with their strict dress codes that are often sexist, specifically targeting girls as the subject of their rules. For example, many school dress codes include regulation on skirt or short length, width of straps, and exposing of cleavage. Also, many schools strictly enforce what a girl is wearing, but overlook any violation by boys.

There are hundreds of stories of girls standing up against their school dress codes and exposing the sexism so present in school policy, one of most popular being Carey Burgess, the school President from South Carolina who was sent home for wearing a shirt that was too short. Carey is not the only girl being sent home for her outfit choices- girls are also being forced to wear shame suits or are being sent to detention for what they are wearing often with the justification that their outfits are “too distracting” for male students and even male teachers. It is not surprising that in a “boys will be boys” society, girls are the culprits for distracting their male peers, not the boys themselves. The fact that school administrators and teachers promote this idea proves the idea that dress codes are sexist and specifically target girls.

In a society where girls are policed for everything from career choices to body weight, it is not surprising that girls are policed for what they are wearing as well. Girl’s bodies are viewed as “off limits” and “overly sexualized”, especially girls of color and bigger girls. This is where the true issue of dress code lies- that it isn’t about what girls are wearing, it is about their bodies. Schools are teaching girls at such a young age that their bodies are off-limits and that they’re dangerous to a boy’s well-being and education. Schools are thereby teaching young adults that girls are responsible for the actions of boys and that girls are to blame if something happens to them. This is why dress code perpetuates rape culture and victim blaming- it encourages blaming girls for what happens to them based on what they are wearing.

Because of dress codes, girls see themselves as objects who should not attract attention from boys. Also, girls who get in trouble are suddenly bad and dangerous and don’t deserve the respect of boys; not only does this shape the way boys see these girls, but also how these girls see themselves: as objects who don’t deserve respect from boys if they dress a certain way. Girls are also looked upon has having less respect for themselves the less they wear, which often leads boys, and even other girls, to view them as lesser. It is this culture of girls being “sluts” if they show a certain amount of skin that is imprinted into student’s heads that often leads them to slut shame someone based on what they are wearing. Although much of the blame for slut-shaming is placed on boys and the way they judge girls based on what they are doing or wearing, in fact, there is an aspect of girls policing other girls that is sometimes left out of the dialogue about slut-shaming.

As stated in Rebecca Raby’s thesis, “Tank Tops Are Okay, But I Don’t Want to See Her Thong” where she interviewed various girls on the issue of dress code, “These comments were frequently set starkly against concomitant hostility against other girls’ revealing dress and a consequent appreciation of dress codes”. This shows how girls sometimes agree with dress code regulation, considering clothing like spaghetti straps “slutty”. Some of the girls in her study group felt that certain clothing was “sleazy” even though they agreed a girl should be allowed to wear that clothing if she wanted to. This shows how schools’ dress codes often give girls standards or “reference points” by which to judge other girls clothing choices.

It’s hard to see what we can do in a society so immersed in dress code to change this. Schools are teaching kids at a young age to judge girls based on their clothing and that their clothing is directly correlated to their worth, so how is it possible that we can get around that when it is so embedded in our culture? In a society where 1 in 4 women will be raped in college, it is crucial that schools take measures to avoid perpetuating rape culture and foster an environment where girls are not sexualized and where “boys will be boys” is not a valid excuse. Convincing schools to change policy is rarely a viable option, but girls who are exposing these instances on social media are the ones taking the right steps to expose the injustices of school dress code. Hashtags like #IAmMoreThanADistraction are bringing problems to the general public and allowing girls who are actively facing these injustices to take a stand. This is one of the first steps we can take to end the sexism of dress code along with being aware that these rules may be changing the way we view other girls and taking active steps to avoid perpetuating this slut-shaming. Once this happens, maybe ‘slut’ will stop being a major part of our vocabulary and we will start standing up for girls who are being slut shamed instead of participating, and even encouraging, the conversation.

Cover Image Credit: Chicago Tribune

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I'm That Girl With A Deep Voice, But I'm Not Some Freak Of Nature

I have learned to hold back tears when someone tells me that I sound like a man.

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My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. I joke that rather than getting higher, my voice got lower throughout puberty.

My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. I have learned to laugh when my family members say "Hi Todd" when they pick up the phone when I call. Todd is my brother. I am a girl.

My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. I have learned to laugh when I have been asked by other females if they're "in the right bathroom" when I tell them "I'm not in line" or "someone's in here" when there's a knock on the stall.

Keep in mind that in most female bathrooms, there are no urinals present and there is a sign outside the door that says "WOMEN." Quite obviously, they're in the correct bathroom, just thrown off by the octave of my voice.

For the girl who asked me if she was in the right bathroom because she was "caught off guard and thought I was a boy," I'm just wondering...

What part about my long hair, mascara, shorts not down to my knees, presence (small presence, but a presence none the less) of boobs, and just my overall demeanor was not enough validation that you are, in fact, in the correct restroom?

My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. I have learned to hold back tears when someone tells me that I sound like a man. Or, when someone calls me over to talk to their friends so they can see how "offsetting" my voice sounds to them.

My favorite story is when I was in a store, and I asked one of the women there a question about a product.

This woman had the audacity to ask me when I "went through my transformation."

She was suggesting that I was a transgender girl because of the sound of my voice. Please recognize that I respect and wholeheartedly accept the trans- population. Please also recognize that I was born a girl, still am a girl, always will be a girl, and asking someone if they are a different gender than they appear to be is not the best way to make a sale.

Frustrated, I told her that she should find a better plastic surgeon and walked out.

My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be.

And, to make matters worse, I am not your typical "girly-girl."

I die for the New York Rangers, have maybe two dresses in my closet but three shelves full of hand-me-down sweatshirts from my brother and Adidas pants. I do not own a "blouse" nor do I plan on owning one except maybe for business-casual occasions.

Naturally, when a deep voice is paired with a sports-oriented, athletic short-loving, sarcastic girl who couldn't tell you the difference between a stiletto and an average high-heel, I GUESS things can seem "off." However, regardless of the difference you see/hear, no one has the right to make someone feel bad about themselves.

What I always struggled with the most is how (most, moral, common-sense) people will never tell someone they don't know, who may be overweight, that "they're fat" or that they don't like the shirt that they're wearing. Yet, because my voice is not something physically seen, it has become fair game for strangers and acquaintances alike to judge and make comments about.

I used to break down into hysterics when I heard a comment about my voice, whether I was six years old or seventeen years old.

There are times that I still do because I am so fed up and just completely bamboozled by the fact that at the age of twenty, there are still people who just have a blatant disregard for others' feelings and a lack of understanding of what is okay to say and what is not okay to say.

But, just like I ask those people not to judge me, I suppose I can't judge them on their lack of common sense and respect for others.

I'd be lying if I said that the hundreds of thousands of comments I've heard and received targeted at my voice growing up did not play a role in my life. I used to want to be a sports broadcaster. I no longer want to be heard on the radio or seen on TV; snarky comments about my voice being one of the reasons why (among others, like a change of interest and just overall life experiences).

I'd be lying if I said that my struggle with public speaking didn't partially stem from negative feedback about my voice.

I'd be lying if I said that there weren't days I tried to talk as little as possible because I didn't want to be judged and that I am sometimes hesitant to introduce myself to new people because I'm scared my voice will scare them away.

I would also be lying if I said that my voice didn't make me who I am.

I joke constantly about it now, because half the shit that comes out of my mouth mixed with my actions, interests, beliefs, etc., would sound absolutely WHACK if I had a high-pitched "girly" voice.

My voice matches my personality perfectly, and the criticism I have and continue to receive for my "manly" sounding voice has helped shaped me into who I am today. I have learned to love my voice when people have relentlessly tried to make me hate it. I have learned to take the frustration I felt towards my voice and turn it into sympathy for those who have something going on in their life, and therefore feel compelled to make a comment about me, a stranger's voice, to make themselves feel better.

I've learned that to laugh at yourself is to love yourself.

And, I say this not for sympathy. Not for someone to say, "Wait, Syd, I love your voice!"

I say this because I want it to be a reminder for people to watch what they say, and use that noggin before you speak. I say this because I also want to be the voice (haha, get it, 'voice') for those who feel like they've lost theirs.

My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

So no, I would not be a good alto in a choir because I think I'm tone deaf. And, when you call MY phone number, it is very unlikely that it is my brother or dad answering. Just say hello, because 99.9% of the time, if it's ME you're calling, it's ME that's answering.

Dr. Suess said, "A person's a person no matter how small."

Now I'm saying, "A girl is a girl no matter her octave."

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One Year Later

What a difference a year can make

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This past weekend, my a cappella group had its second performance and the experience I had singing with some of my best friends was like no other. As I reflect on this past weekend, I can't help but think about how different my life is from just one year ago. I thought I'd take some time to unpack the difference a year can make. This week also almost perfectly marks a year since I started writing for Odyssey, so the theme of yearly changes is one that is resonating particularly right now.

Last year, around this time, I was not, in fact, performing with a group I love so much. I was still transitioning to college, struggling to find my place, dealing with "rejections" from things I had wanted so badly to become involved in, the biggest of these being a cappella. During this time, I wrote an article titled, When One Door Closes, Do You Find Another Door Or Knock Again?, which I think fully encompassed how I was beginning to reshape and redefine my experiences of "rejection" as experiences of opportunity, experiences that would push me to create new beginnings for myself and continue to follow my passion.

One year later, and I can confidently say that I am now part of so many groups and organizations on campus, doing things I love.

I think a big part of this shift to finding my place at Villanova was, in fact, Odyssey. I have said this before and I will say it again and again: writing for Odyssey has given me a means to share my voice, to process things going on in my daily life, to unpack the complexities of my emotions and experiences.

Taking on the perspective of a writer has made me more inclined to treat everything in my life as an opportunity to gain new knowledge and to continue to grow.

Looking back on the "rejections" of last year, I realize that I am here today not despite of but because of everything that set me off that first semester, and I think there is something beautiful in the fact that it is because I was turned away from certain programs that I am now a part of what I am.

If I had made an a cappella group first semester or been able to be an LPH for Special Olympics or Sidekick for NOVAdance, would my Freshman year have been any less fruitful? No, of course not. If I had been accepted into any of these programs, I know that I would have grown and gained experiences from them.

However, if all of those things had worked out, would I know what it is like to be create a new a cappella group on campus, would I know the overwhelming feeling of joy one gets when being accepted into a service fraternity after applying a second time?

Would I know the feeling of deep gratitude one gains in knowing that through everything, they can persevere and shape their life as they wish?

I struggle to use the word rejection in this piece because I think it focuses too deeply on the negative. What I ultimately want to voice is that it has been a year of growth, and I am deeply grateful for all the experiences that I have had.

Besides involvement on campus, in the past year, my connections with others have also proven to be a means to grow. One year ago, I was still finding my people on campus. Today, I can say that while relationships will never be perfect, I have a life filled with deep love and connection, that I have friends new and old that I can turn to. At the same time, I have also learned to turn to myself first and foremost.

My relationship with myself is one that I am continually embracing, but this past year especially has urged me to understand my introversion and need for self compassion always.

Going back to my experience of writing for Odyssey, I feel that my Odyssey articles are the epitome of all that made up my Freshman year. All of my articles are based in topics that are very much real and resonating with me at the time, and if I were to open up any article written last year, I could pinpoint the conversation or moment that inspired the article. I love the fact that I now have a means to look back on the essence of my experiences in the past year. Unlike social media platforms which are made up of pre-mitigated posts trying to fit a certain image, using Odyssey as a platform has allowed me to accurately, and I hope authentically, relay the complexities of life.

A lot can happen in a year, readers.

So take a moment to appreciate where you are right now, no matter what has happened, and realize that you have the infinite power to shape your life however you want.

I have no doubt that each of you could write a similar article about the amount you have grown in a year. We all have that capacity. Here's to realizing that sometimes, good things take time, but for the time being, there is still always good all around us.


Talk soon,

Sam


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