Dress Codes and Rape Culture

Dress Codes and Rape Culture

Now I could go on and rant about how unfair dress codes are and how they promote rape culture, or I could provide you readers with pictures that speak louder than words.


“If a style of dress or grooming appears to be disruptive to the educational process, it will not be permitted in school.” Two sentences before my student handbook goes on to detail the clothes we can and cannot wear. Despite not allowing tank tops, baggy pants, or ripped clothing, the other seven or eight clothing no-no’s are geared towards the female population.

“No excessively tight shirts or pants.”

“Must be covered from shoulder to 4 inches above the knee.”

“Tank tops, crop tops, low necklines, see-through clothing, including lace, tube tops, spaghetti straps, loose fitting tank tops, one-shoulder tops, or halter tops are not allowed.”

And that’s only a fraction of what cannot be worn. Even though my student handbook doesn’t specifically state that these rules are for only the girls, the clothing items pointed out were clearly feminine. By enforcing strict dress codes and claiming that shoulders and small portions of thighs are “disruptive to the educational process”, schools are also enforcing rape culture and slut shaming. I got dress coded for wearing a skirt that was a mere 6 inches above the knee and had to miss nearly an entire physics lecture, that is disruptive to the educational process...not my skirt. Do you see the irony?

Instead of giving girls detention, suspending them from school, or sending them home because their clothes are too “immodest”, teach the general public to stop sexualizing teenage girls’ bodies. Now I could go on and rant about how unfair dress codes are and how they promote rape culture, or I could provide you readers with pictures that speak louder than words.

These are a few photos depicting what I'm trying to get across here. By claiming that the female body is too distracting for teen boys to view without getting distracted, is, in fact, insulting to teenage boys. High school spends all of its time "preparing" its students for college, but most colleges don't have dress codes. Dress codes are merely giving high school faculty members an excuse to sexualize teenage bodies.

"If you are sexualizing me, YOU are the problem." This leads directly back to victim shaming in regards to rape and abuse. As a society, people always ask questions of the victim: "What was she wearing?" "What was she doing that led to her assault?". This amount of shame and blame should never be put on someone who's suffered through something that traumatic. Adolescent bodies should not be seen as remotely sexual. Dress coding teaches women that they are defined by what they wear and that their bodies are to be objectified and sexualized even when wearing something as innocent as a skirt.

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