#3 Opinions on Dress Codes

I chose to continue researching the sexism in dress codes and appearances. The three people I chose to talk to were my friend Olivia, my classmate and my ART teacher Eric. My friend Olivia goes to camp with me and was with me when the whole boys camp injustice happened and she is also very passionate about this issue so that why I chose to talk to her. I chose my classmate, who will remain anonymous, because I wanted a male opinion. Finally I chose my ART teacher because he is new and has other places influences so maybe he has experimented something that doesn’t happen in Vermont.

Olivia I knew would be a great person to talk to because I knew she was very passionate about this topic and was a very outspoken person who loved to share her experiences and opinion. She was also someone who I felt very comfortable talking to. The first thing Olivia brought up was the double standard of showing skin for men and women. She said “there are multiple assumptions made about women who show a sliver of the skin that men show on a daily basis.” She told me that at her school dress coding wasn’t a huge thing but cat calling in general where she lives is a big deal and often occurs because of similar assumptions. I also asked her about her experience at camp and she told me that she had begun to notice the injustice as she grew up in the camp community. She believed, like me, that it was unfair that the girls were having to composite for the men. She has a brother at the boys camp and she is worried about what that is teaching her brother. That its the women job to make sure the man is in line. In general Olivia felt that just bring awareness to the injustice would make a difference. She believed that it was not fair to the males and if the men knew what was going on she believes they would be on our side. All in all Olivia was very passionate about this topic and wants to make a change.

When I talked to my classmate I was surprised that he was aware of the injustice, however when I questioned more he revealed that he did not think that other males in our school were aware of the injustice of the dress code. My classmate brought up the point that students generally don’t get dress coded at our school but he noticed that when they do its usually girls. I thought that was very interesting because in my case I witness girls getting dress coded constantly. Even just the other day my friend was wearing a breast cancer awareness shirt with the word “tit” on it and she was dress coded. I was happy when he brought up the point “I think dress codes in general are much worse for girls because the social norms make girls shirts smaller and more revealing than guys shirts in general”, at least he has some knowledge about the topic and he wasn’t just preaching about a topic that he doesn’t know about like I notice some guys in our school do. When the words ‘slut’ or ‘whore’ are used by males to describe women based on what she is wearing is so not ok and they obviously have no respect for anyone. You wouldn’t call a man who walked into school wearing his pants low a ‘whore’, it would most likely be disregarded or at more called unfashionable. Anyone should be able to wear a crop top and not be called a ‘slut’ or ‘gay’ in a mans case. Your clothes don’t define who you are. I asked my classmate what he thought about the words ‘slut’ and ‘whore’ being used by guys. He told me “I’ve heard ‘she looks hot’ or ‘she’s showing a to of skin’ but it’s usually more glad than shaming. I don’t hang around with a******* that much though”. Personally I thought that the things he said he had heard were in someways the same thing as calling them ‘slut’, I was wondering if he saw how awful the things they were saying were, or if he thought them as a compliment. He made it clear that he didn’t think it was a good thing he just meant that he had never heard them angrily call them slut just more in a happy way. Not to say it doesn’t happen that way because I have experienced first hand men deliberately calling women slut, whore, ex. He told me all in all that he was aware of the problem but he thought he was the minority of the male community. I was happy with his individual response as a male but I am still hoping to someday work up the courage to talk to the males in my school who seem to be oblivious and contributing to the problem.

I was very interested in talking to Eric, being a male, southern, theatre teacher I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I asked Eric first about what the dress codes were like in the south and if he say an injustice in dress coding. Eric said that the south was still very old fashion in their dress coding, he told me how girls were not aloud to wear yoga pants but it was ok for boys to wear sweatpants. He also told me that girls in general got dress coded more. He was very much aware of the injustice and was totally against it. He said coming to Vermont it was a much more excepting place. I asked him if he thought that as a male he had any different options on the issue. He told me however that he was really coming from a different place because he has a teenage daughter. He wants to make sure that she is placed safe non sexist environments so he has a bit of a bias. I had a feeling that the south would have a more old time outlook on things and Eric told me that that was very true. He was sad to say that there are a lot of people who still believed that the women are on the earth to serve the men. He has only been in Vermont for a little while but so far he hasn’t been exposed to any injustices close to how it was in the south and he has a lot of hope for the future.

All in all I am still interested in my topic and I still think it’s important but I also am looking forward to exploring other topics too.


Anna McIntosh

4 Responses to “#3 Opinions on Dress Codes

  • Sophie Logan
    5 years ago

    Hi Anna!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and interviews in writing, it is really compelling!

    I think it is really interesting to ask people with different backgrounds what they think about this issue, as you’ve done here. It seemed like your girlfriend had the strongest reaction, your guy friend from school had a moderately strong stance against it, and your teacher seemed dejected about the issue in general. If everyone is recognizing this problem, it is intriguing that they all have different ways of reacting to it. I wonder how you would talk to them altogether if you were in a room with them? Is it possible to take some sort of action if everyone has a different response to the problem? How do you lead that?

    Dress codes connect to larger issues – women are told at every stage of their life that they *should* be certain ways. They can’t just be smart, they have to be pretty and nice too. They can’t just choose how they want to engage with their sexuality, they are either a slut or a prude (with no in between). They can’t wear what they want, they are either showing too much or being too conservative. These double standards have even reached the supreme court. If Ford showed no emotion in her testimony about the case, then it couldn’t have happened. If she showed the emotion she did, we didn’t believe her word, she must have been hysterical and lying. There are many ways that women are caught in binds in our culture, losing out no matter what they choose to do.

    Hope the course is going great and I’m looking forward to hearing more!

    Also, sorry I haven’t been answering your previous posts, I will be more on top of it. I am a senior at Bard College now, studying Economics and German. This class seems so cool and I wish it had been offered when I was at Midd. The issue that I work on the most at school is socioeconomic status. I run an organization called The Scale Project that addresses inequities based on class in college policy, social dynamics, or classrooms. If you’re interested in issues of class at all (especially in higher education), I’m happy to tell you more!


  • Anna,

    Nice work speaking to a variety of people for this post, and you do a good job touching on some of the many issues that arise from the double standard that exists within our culture for men and women.

    I found Eric’s perspective particularly interesting, because it sheds light on Vermont’s relative progressiveness in relation to other parts of the country. But, as you vividly illustrated in your previous entry, sexist attitudes persist even here.

    I admire your candor when you write, “I am still hoping to someday work up the courage to talk to the males in my school who seem to be oblivious and contributing to the problem.” I concur that it can be hard to engage others in conversation about controversial topics, especially when you know they might respond in a hostile way. Here’s hoping you do find the courage!

    Your last sentence suggests you haven’t settled on a topic yet. As you explore others, I trust that you’ll continue to bring this level of detail and engagement to your investigation. I’m eager to see what else you look into!

  • Allison Stebe
    5 years ago

    Hi Anna,

    I like how you further explored your topic by interviewing three people from different demographics-great choices. It was clear from the interviews that you not only learned from their personal experiences and perspectives but also dug deeper to gain an understanding of why they had those opinions. Right or wrong or counter to your argument, it is helpful to understand all sides of an issue in order to hone your position. It is clear to the readers that you are passionate about this topic and are able articulate your opinions and feelings. I wonder where you will go from here? I would love to see you take this topic further and create more awareness within the school or camp community and beyond.

    Continue the great work, I look forward to reading your next post!

  • I am at a government school in Australia and the range of dress for teachers varies quite a bit. If you are a PE and sports teacher, you will need to bring warm clothes for sport as quite a bit of time gets spent outside and it does get chilly. Many teachers that are not PE teachers at my school wear jeans on a regular basis. This being said, it is important to remember, that like any profession, you dress for the job you want, not the one you have.

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