The School Dress Code Debate That We Shouldn't Be Having

The School Dress Code Debate That We Shouldn't Be Having

Dress codes are the real distraction.
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A high school girl from Helena, Montana by the name of Kaitlyn gained some media attention when she organized a "No Bra Day" at her high school, after being reprimanded by an administrator for showing up to school without a bra, on the basis that it made male students and teachers "uncomfortable," and that they "don't want to see that." After the day gained traction, Kaitlyn penned an op-ed for The Guardian describing her experience and stating her intentions behind the day.

The story left me seething. I was appalled that school administrators would have the nerve to talk to high school girls the way those at this high school talked to Kaitlyn. I was even more appalled by the cruelty and blatant slut-shaming Kaitlyn received in the comments' sections, calling her a "whore" and an "attention-seeker," and telling her to take her own life. Most appalling to me was the general spectacle of how these administrators made such a fuss over a girl choosing not to wear a bra. I have to wonder: Why, in 2016, is whether a girl is wearing a bra or not such a big deal?

Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. This is part of a much bigger picture of how school dress codes throughout the country have been used to humiliate and objectify female students. Every once in awhile, I'll stumble upon some story about a local controversy over the dress codes of a particular school -- girls being sent home or forced to change because their shoulders were exposed, or their shorts or skirts were too short. Sometimes I'll hear about it because the way a dress code is enforced is especially cruel and humiliating, like one girl who was forced to wear a T-shirt and sweats that read "Dress Code Violation."

The public school system from which I graduated was no stranger to this controversy. In middle school, as the year would venture closer to summer, the principal would remind girls over a loudspeaker not to wear short shorts. I've also never forgotten one occasion in eighth grade gym class, in which the teacher called up about 7 or 8 girls, all in T-shirts and gym shorts, lined them up in front of the class, and told them all that their shorts were too short. I felt bad for those girls, and found it cruel to make an example of them like that.

I recall reading the dress code thoroughly, and in retrospect, there were policies that didn't make sense. The dress code forbade virtually any exposure of shoulders, which seems pointless because girls of all ages wear sleeveless shirts and tops all the time literally everywhere else, even to church. I don't find it overtly distracting because I'm so used to seeing girls dressing like that. It's so commonplace that it just isn't a big deal, so it seems counterintuitive to forbid such a common way of dressing.

Another major point of controversy is yoga pants and leggings. Again, girls wear them all the time, so they really shouldn't be a big deal. And once they get into college, the dress code will be significantly loosened, and girls will be free to go braless and wear leggings, sleeveless shirts, short shorts, or whatever else they want to class. And if they can't dress in those ways in high school, they'll dress like it everywhere else. By forbidding these very commonplace clothes, school administrators make distractions where there are none to begin with.

A common retort that I hear is, "Kids need to learn that the world has rules, and they need to follow them." This doesn't fly with me. To me, that's just a cop out when you don't have a better argument, and frankly, the condescension of it just annoys me. Following rules does not mean never questioning them, and that's what such a retort seems to be suggesting. Yes, sometimes you have to follow rules that you don't like, but that doesn't mean rules should exist for the sake of having them.

Another retort that I frequently hear is, "In the real world, jobs will have dress codes, and this is to prepare students for the real world." I find that a bit hard to swallow, because many of these same dress codes allow students to throw on a T-shirt and sweats and come to school. If schools aren't otherwise requiring students to dress "professional," that argument doesn't really hold up to me.

But the most problematic reasoning for these dress codes is the mindset that girls have to cover up so boys won't be distracted. That sends a litany of harmful messages to young, impressionable students. It's part of this bigger societal problem of sexualizing women's bodies. By telling them to cover up so boys aren't distracted, administrators perpetuate the message that women's bodies are inherently sexual, and contribute to women being sexually objectified in our culture.

Another way that this mindset is harmful is how it prioritizes boys' education over girls' education. By pulling girls out of class and forcing them to change, administrators waste girls' valuable class time, time they could have been using to do what they came to do--learn--simply because their clothes and bodies *distract* boys from their education. They put boys' supposed discomfort over the sight of a shoulder (or *gasp!* a braless shoulder!) over girls' comfort in their own bodies, and give no concern for how uncomfortable clothes might interfere with their ability to learn. Many women are going without bras because they find them uncomfortable, and that was Kaitlyn's only intention in not wearing a bra: personal and physical comfort. I also think of one female friend who finds jeans extremely uncomfortable, even painful, and is much more comfortable wearing leggings. Yet the administrators force girls to forgo their own personal comfort for that of boys, and within that is this subtle reinforcement of male privilege and entitlement.

And okay, let's talk about those helplessly hormonal teenage boys administrators are so worried about. I personally find that way of looking at boys and men incredibly insulting as a man myself. We have way more self-control than such a mindset gives us credit for; our sexual urges do not dictate our lives. The Helena principal's contention that Kaitlyn not wearing a bra would make boys "uncomfortable" is a questionable one. Half the time, I probably wouldn't even know whether a girl was wearing a bra, but even if I did, why the hell would I be uncomfortable with the absence of a strap the width of a finger? I will also mention again that women will dress in these forbidden manners everywhere else outside of high school, and will dress that way once they go to college, and we men do just fine, because we're so used to seeing it that it isn't a distraction to us.

The Helena principal contends that female students can't go braless because male students and teachers "don't want to see that." First of all, teachers? I don't even want to go there. Second, who gives a sh*t? It doesn't matter whether boys want to see it or not, because Kaitlyn and her friends didn't dress for them; they dressed for themselves, and for their own personal comfort. And that's all that should matter. Girls shouldn't feel the need to dress solely based on what boys might think, and definitely not based on what adult male teachers and administrators might think. Girls should feel free to choose their clothes based on what is comfortable for them, and only them. It's that simple.

It's time to stop acting like women's bodies and clothing choices are up for public debate. That's a bigger distraction than a braless shoulder ever will be.

Cover Image Credit: theguardian.com

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Your Wait time At Theme Parks Is Not Unfair, You're Just Impatient

Your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself.

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Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios "unboxed" on June 30, 2018. My friend and I decided to brave the crowds on opening day. We got to the park around 7 AM only to find out that the park opened around 6 AM. Upon some more scrolling through multiple Disney Annual Passholder Facebook groups, we discovered that people were waiting outside the park as early as 1 AM.

We knew we'd be waiting in line for the bulk of the Toy Story Land unboxing day. There were four main lines in the new land: the line to enter the land; the line for Slinky Dog Dash, the new roller coaster; the line for Alien Spinning Saucers, the easier of the new rides in the land; Toy Story Mania, the (now old news) arcade-type ride; and the new quick-service restaurant, Woody's Lunchbox (complete with grilled cheese and "grown-up drinks").

Because we were so early, we did not have to wait in line to get into the land. We decided to ride Alien Spinning Saucers first. The posted wait time was 150 minutes, but my friend timed the line and we only waited for 50 minutes. Next, we tried to find the line for Slinky Dog Dash. After receiving conflicting answers, the runaround, and even an, "I don't know, good luck," from multiple Cast Members, we exited the land to find the beginning of the Slinky line. We were then told that there was only one line to enter the park that eventually broke off into the Slinky line. We were not about to wait to get back into the area we just left, so we got a Fastpass for Toy Story Mania that we didn't plan on using in order to be let into the land sooner. We still had to wait for our time, so we decided to get the exclusive Little Green Man alien popcorn bin—this took an entire hour. We then used our Fastpass to enter the land, found the Slinky line, and proceeded to wait for two and a half hours only for the ride to shut down due to rain. But we've come this far and rain was not about to stop us. We waited an hour, still in line and under a covered area, for the rain to stop. Then, we waited another hour and a half to get on the ride from there once it reopened (mainly because they prioritized people who missed their Fastpass time due to the rain). After that, we used the mobile order feature on the My Disney Experience app to skip part of the line at Woody's Lunchbox.

Did you know that there is actually a psychological science to waiting? In the hospitality industry, this science is the difference between "perceived wait" and "actual wait." A perceived wait is how long you feel like you are waiting, while the actual wait is, of course, the real and factual time you wait. There are eight things that affect the perceived wait time: unoccupied time feels longer than occupied time, pre-process waits feel longer than in-process waits, anxiety makes waits feel longer, uncertain waits are longer than certain waits, unexplained waits are longer than explained waits, unfair waits are longer than equitable waits, people will wait longer for more valuable service and solo waiting feels longer than group waiting.

Our perceived wait time for Alien Spinning Saucers was short because we expected it to be longer. Our wait for the popcorn seemed longer because it was unoccupied and unexplained. Our wait for the rain to stop so the ride could reopen seemed shorter because it was explained. Our wait between the ride reopening and getting on the coaster seemed longer because it felt unfair for Disney to let so many Fastpass holders through while more people waited through the rain. Our entire wait for Slinky Dog Dash seemed longer because we were not told the wait time in the beginning. Our wait for our food after placing a mobile order seemed shorter because it was an in-process wait. We also didn't mind wait long wait times for any of these experiences because they were new and we placed more value on them than other rides or restaurants at Disney. The people who arrived at 1 AM just added five hours to their perceived wait

Some non-theme park examples of this science of waiting in the hospitality industry would be waiting at a restaurant, movie theater, hotel, performance or even grocery store. When I went to see "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," the power went out in the theater right as we arrived. Not only did we have to wait for it to come back and for them to reset the projectors, I had to wait in a bit of anxiety because the power outage spooked me. It was only a 30-minute wait but felt so much longer. At the quick-service restaurant where I work, we track the time from when the guest places their order to the time they receive their food. Guests in the drive-thru will complain about 10 or more minute waits, when our screens tell us they have only been waiting four or five minutes. Their actual wait was the four or five minutes that we track because this is when they first request our service, but their perceived wait begins the moment they pull into the parking lot and join the line because this is when they begin interacting with our business. While in line, they are experiencing pre-process wait times; after placing the order, they experience in-process wait times.

Establishments in the hospitality industry do what they can to cut down on guests' wait times. For example, theme parks offer services like Disney's Fastpass or Universal's Express pass in order to cut down the time waiting in lines so guests have more time to buy food and merchandise. Stores like Target or Wal-Mart offer self-checkout to give guests that in-process wait time. Movie theaters allow you to check in and get tickets on a mobile app and some quick-service restaurants let you place mobile or online orders. So why do people still get so bent out of shape about being forced to wait?

On Toy Story Land unboxing day, I witnessed a woman make a small scene about being forced to wait to exit the new land. Cast Members were regulating the flow of traffic in and out of the land due to the large crowd and the line that was in place to enter the land. Those exiting the land needed to wait while those entering moved forward from the line. Looking from the outside of the situation as I was, this all makes sense. However, the woman I saw may have felt that her wait was unfair or unexplained. She switched between her hands on her hips and her arms crossed, communicated with her body language that she was not happy. Her face was in a nasty scowl at those entering the land and the Cast Members in the area. She kept shaking her head at those in her group and when allowed to proceed out of the land, I could tell she was making snide comments about the wait.

At work, we sometimes run a double drive-thru in which team members with iPads will take orders outside and a sequencer will direct cars so that they stay in the correct order moving toward the window. In my experience as the sequencer, I will inform the drivers which car to follow, they will acknowledge me and then still proceed to dart in front of other cars just so they make it to the window maybe a whole minute sooner. Not only is this rude, but it puts this car and the cars around them at risk of receiving the wrong food because they are now out of order. We catch these instances more often than not, but it still adds stress and makes the other guests upset. Perhaps these guests feel like their wait is also unfair or unexplained, but if they look at the situation from the outside or from the restaurant's perspective, they would understand why they need to follow the blue Toyota.

The truth of the matter is that your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself. We all want instant gratification, I get it. But in reality, we have to wait for some things. It takes time to prepare a meal. It takes time to experience a ride at a theme park that everyone else wants to go on. It takes time to ring up groceries. It takes patience to live in this world.

So next time you find yourself waiting, take a minute to remember the difference between perceived and actual wait times. Think about the eight aspects of waiting that affect your perceived wait. Do what you can to realize why you are waiting or keep yourself occupied in this wait. Don't be impatient. That's no way to live your life.

Cover Image Credit:

Aranxa Esteve

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How The Democratic Party basically Handed Donald Trump The Presidency

The rise of Donald Trump was propelled in part by the far left's efforts to undermine him.

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Donald Trump's victory in the 2016 Presidential Election was a shock to many across the country, myself included. It seemed impossible that someone so unapologetically crass, rude, and idiotic could even hope to achieve the position of the most powerful person in the world (have I mentioned that he literally admitted to sexually assaulting women?). I mean sure, it certainly didn't help that Hillary Clinton was probably the worst candidate that the Democratic Party could have run against him... actually she was definitely the worst, but she still should have won. As she tries to explain in her new book, what happened?

In order for a bigoted, fear-mongering, and an arguably uneducated man like Donald Trump to become president, there needs to be a perfect storm. We've already established that Hillary was a bad candidate on the Democratic side, but none of the other Republican candidates were very good either. Their best guy other than Trump was Ted Cruz, a man who can be described as unsettling on his best days. There was also a large number of people that resonated with Trump. Granted, they were mostly uneducated, blue-collar, religious, second amendment nuts, but Trump's "forgotten man" schtick stuck with them, as these were people who felt like they were being left behind. I would argue that they were and should have been, but that's beside the point.

However, the one thing that I think influenced Donald Trump's meteoric rise to the presidency the most were the ridiculous ways that some of his opponents would try to undermine his legitimacy as a candidate. As someone who identifies as a Democrat myself (not as my gender, but as my political affiliation), I certainly was not a fan of Donald Trump. I think that his election has brought us one step closer to the dystopian future laid out in the cinematic masterpiece that is Idiocracy, but it's not like my party didn't have opportunities to bring him down a peg. It's also not like we didn't completely fail in doing so.

Every time Donald Trump would say something that could be construed as racist, xenophobic, or sexist, Democrats would pounce on it and use it as proof that he was all of these things. This is a good method, but many Democrats got too overzealous in using it, calling him these things even when what he said was probably not racist, or even not racist at all. The baseless attacks vastly outnumbered the legitimate ones, and Trump supporters used it as a way to rally around their guy and to validate the ideas of "fake news" and their "us against the world" mentality.

The day the Donald Trump won the election, in my opinion at least, was the day that Hillary Clinton called Trump supporters a "basket of deplorables." Are you kidding me?! You're going to take tens of millions of American voters, essentially call them racist, sexist idiots, and flat-out dismiss them? All she did was verify to the Trump supporter all the things that he already believed: that he was being disrespected, left behind, and forgotten about by the democratic party. Regardless, how do you think people are going to vote if you just insult their intelligence and character for months on end? That's not the way to build bridges; it only creates the divisiveness that Trump thrives in.

This is why people think of Democrats as elitist: because Democrats act really elitist. If you always act like you know better than everyone else and sit in your ivory tower expecting everyone to realize how stupid they are, you're not going to win elections. In fact, you'll do so bad in elections that you'll lose to an unqualified, idiotic, racist Cheeto that wears a toupee that looks like it was made from hairs scooped out of the bathroom sink. Anyway, that's why Trump won the election: because Hillary and the Democrats had their heads so far up their asses that they couldn't smell his spray tan coming.

Cover Image Credit:

upload.wikimedia.org

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