How the Dress Code Targets Young Black Girls

How the Dress Code Targets Young Black Girls

Stop over-sexualizing young Black bodies.
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Black girls can’t wear shorts, or at least that was the gist of the rules at the middle school I attended.

Hindsight is always 20/20, and at the time, I didn’t think anything of it. I went to a middle school in a Chicago suburb. Incidentally, the school also banned hugging at one point, but that’s a story on it’s own. The dress code consisted of two main rules: straps had to have an equal or greater width of three adult fingers, and shorts had to at least reach the tips of your fingers. Like any school with a similar dress code, the rules were set with girls in mind. No one cared about the boys who sagged their pants and let their underwear show, or the boys in tanks that were two adult fingers at best.

However, this isn’t the problem. These rules are at many schools across the nation and they’ve always had a sexist background. But I’m not going to discuss the over-sexualization of young girls and the men who leer at them before putting these rules in place. It’s the focus on Black girls that’s key, and the fetishization that corrupts their young age, even in their tween years.

At my middle school, there were three assistant principals — one for each grade. The assistant principal for my grade, who is still the assistant principal today, approached me and a couple of my friends. He directed one of them to go inside and change because her shorts came to her thumbs and not her longest finger. The protocol was that girls who broke the rules of the dress code had to change into their gym uniform. My friend came back out in her gym shorts, and we all sat around fuming about the situation as young girls do. But then we noticed one of the white students, a girl who was sitting a couple feet away from us, was wearing jogging short.

Yes. The jogging shorts that come mid-thigh at best. She had very long legs, and it was clear to anyone who can see that she had beyond surpassed breaking the dress code. So we got the assistant principal. Justice, it seemed to us, needed to be served. It was a youthful mentality — that if one suffered, we all had to. And in the eyes of the administration, it should have been a mentality that was upheld.

But it wasn’t.

“Well she’s talking to someone right now,” he told us.

But we had all been talking to each other when he approached our group, and he made our friend change regardless.

And then he said it. He told us that he didn’t really worry about girls like her — he emphasized “like her” so we’d know he meant white girls. He said that we, a group of young black girls who were still growing — developed differently than the white girls. He said that we grew up with a little “more,” and that made the rules necessary.

The more he was referring to was the curviness of the Black woman’s figure.

We all laughed at the time. We had already noticed that we had been developing a little faster than our white counterparts, and that our hips and curves were desirable. It had actually seemed like a compliment.

But hindsight is 20/20.

He had clearly and unapologetically told us that he only targeted Black girls when it came to the dress code because of the way they develop. That our bodies, in our tweens, had already been labeled as sexual and lust-worthy, and we needed more clothes than others, even other girls, to keep from becoming a distraction.

And to put it simply, that’s disgusting.

I purposely did not include the name of the assistant principal because this really isn’t about him. It’s about the ease that comes with sexualizing the young Black body, and how a person can feel so comfortable doing it that they’ll admit to it.

I sincerely hope that my middle school aims to uphold the dress code in all cases. If it is a rule, everyone should be held to it.

Cover Image Credit: Patch

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No, I Don't Have To Tell You I'm Trans Before Dating You

Demanding trans people come out to potential partners is transphobic.
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In 2014, Jennifer Laude, a 26-year-old Filipina woman, was brutally murdered after having sex with a U.S. marine. The marine in question, Joseph Scott Pemberton, strangled her until she was unconscious and then proceeded to drown her in a toilet bowl.

Understandably, this crime triggered a lot of outrage. But while some were outraged over the horrific nature of the crime, many others were outraged by a different detail in the story. That was because Jennifer Laude had done the unspeakable. She was a trans woman and had not disclosed that information before having sex with Pemberton. So in the minds of many cis people, her death was the price she paid for not disclosing her trans status. Here are some of the comments on CNN's Facebook page when the story broke.

As a trans person, I run into this attitude all the time. I constantly hear cis people raging about how a trans person is "lying" if they don't come out to a potential partner before dating them. Pemberton himself claimed that he felt like he was "raped" because Laude did not come out to him. Even cis people that fashion themselves as "allies" tend to feel similar.

Their argument is that they aren't not attracted to trans people, so they should have a right to know if a potential partner is trans before dating them. These people view transness as a mere physical quality that they just aren't attracted to.

The issue with this logic is that the person in question is obviously attracted to trans people, or else they wouldn't be worried about accidentally going out with one. So these people aren't attracted to trans people because of some physical quality, they aren't attracted to trans people because they are disgusted by the very idea of transness.

Disgust towards trans people is ingrained in all of us from a very early age. The gender binary forms the basis of European societies. It establishes that there are men and there are women, and each has a specific role. For the gender binary to have power, it has to be rigid and inflexible. Thus, from the day we are born, we are taught to believe in a very static and strict form of gender. We learn that if you have a penis, you are a man, and if you have a vagina, you are a woman. Trans people are walking refutations of this concept of gender. Our very existence threatens to undermine the gender binary itself. And for that, we are constantly demonized. For example, trans people, mainly women of color, continue to be slaughtered in droves for being trans.

The justification of transphobic oppression is often that transness is inherently disgusting. For example, the "trans panic" defense still exists to this day. This defense involves the defendant asking for a lesser sentence after killing a trans person because they contend that when they found out the victim was trans, they freaked out and couldn't control themselves. This defense is still legal in every state but California.

And our culture constantly reinforces the notion that transness is undesirable. For example, there is the common trope in fictional media in which a male protagonist is "tricked" into sleeping with a trans woman. The character's disgust after finding out is often used as a punchline.

Thus, not being attracted to trans people is deeply transphobic. The entire notion that someone isn't attracted to a group of very physically diverse group of people because they are trans is built on fear and disgust of trans people. None of this means it is transphobic to not be attracted to individual trans people. Nor is it transphobic to not be attracted to specific genitals. But it is transphobic to claim to not be attracted to all trans, people. For example, there is a difference between saying you won't go out with someone for having a penis and saying you won't go out with someone because they're trans.

So when a cis person argues that a trans person has an obligation to come out to someone before dating them, they are saying trans people have an obligation to accommodate their transphobia. Plus, claiming that trans people are obligated to come out reinforces the idea that not being attracted to trans people is reasonable. But as I've pointed out, not being attracted to trans people supports the idea that transness is disgusting which is the basis for transphobic oppression.

The one scenario in which I would say a trans person should disclose their trans status is if they are going to have sex with someone and are unsure if their partner is attracted to whatever genitals they may have. In that case, I think it's courteous for a trans person to come out to avoid any awkwardness during sex. But even then, a trans person isn't "lying" if they don't come out and their partner is certainly not being "raped."

It is easy to look at the story of Jennifer Laude and claim that her death was due to the actions of one bigot. But it's more complicated than that. Pemberton was the product of a society that told him that disgust towards trans people was reasonable and natural. So when he found out that he accidentally slept with a trans woman, he killed her.

Every single cis person that says that trans people have to come out because they aren't attracted to trans people feeds into the system that caused Jennifer Laude's death. And until those cis people acknowledge their complicity in that system, there will only be more like Jennifer Laude.

SEE ALSO: Yes, You Absolutely Need To Tell Someone You're Trans Before Dating

Cover Image Credit: Nats Getty / Instagram

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Donald Trump's Sanctions Toward The Iranian Government Are Giving Us Painful Flashbacks To North Korea

Whether the sanction is effective is uncertain. But just like the North Korean nuclear problem, there will also be an answer soon.

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The recent news is that Iran president Hassan Rouhani is willing to talk with Donald Trump and the American government about newly established sanction towards Iran. Three months ago, Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would exit the Iran Nuclear Agreement and threatened to impose sanctions on Iran nuclear in 180 days. Recently, Trump tweeted what could be seen as a threat to the Iranian government.

Donald Trump wanted to force the Iranian government to change their economic policy. There are a lot of domestic problems in Iran. The Iranian government is busy expanding their power in the Middle East. The government used to support the Syrian government. The Saudi Arabian government and the West, which supported the Syrian Rebels, attempted to stop Iran from interfering with Syria. The Iranian government worried that the Syrian governmental crisis would affect their political stability. The overuse of the financial budget has influenced economics, causing Iranian people to appeal the government to revolutionize.

Compare the North Korean Nuclear Crisis and the Iranian Nuclear Crisis and we can see Donald Trump's similar strategies. Firstly, Donald Trump has put in a lot of pressure of either country to force them to give up the nuclear plan and improve economics instead. In the North Korean Crisis, last year, Donald Trump called Kim Jong Un "rocket man" and Kim Jong Un condemned him "crazy."

After temporary language confrontation, Kim Jong Un gave and was willing to negotiate with Trump beginning in early 2018. As for Iran, Rouhani also laughed at Trump's policy and criticized Donald Trump's sanction to Iran which was not supported by the European Union. But the latest is that Iran officials are still willing to talk to the U.S. In the trade war with China, Donald Trump also exerted the pressure on China in order to negotiate.

Many people dislike Donald Trump. It is undoubted that Donald Trump's sanction has effectively forced the country to open their economy to a larger degree of freedom. In the Kim-Trump Summit, the U.S. government reportedly played a video that assumed the future of North Korea.

In Iran currently, the inflation is so high that the public wants the economics to be promoted and anti-America sentiment is expected to end. As Donald Trump mentioned, the aim of the sanction is not to overturn the Iranian government, but to let them rethink how to focus on economics rather than on political stability.

Whether the sanction is effective is uncertain. But just like the North Korean nuclear problem, there will also be an answer soon.

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