It is very easy for someone who works exclusively in a church environment to become culturally isolated from the “real world,” so I make it a point to read extensively outside my field. I want to learn what others are thinking and how they experience life.
So, I perused a recent article in The Atlantic written by a middle-school teacher extremely concerned about the ways the girls in her classroom dressed for school.
She writes, “I hate having to defend my right not to see a girl’s underwear. . . I hate having to worry that being able to see a girl’s underwear will so addle the boys’ brains that they will be unable to concentrate in science class.”
Now, this makes perfect sense to me. Learning to dress appropriately, showing respect both for self and others, should be part of the maturing process.
It was the comments on this article that opened my eyes to differing views. Radically differing views. Apparently, a fair number of people in this world think this teacher is way off base. Coming down strongly on the side of freedom of expression and support of individual choice, they see few or no problems for either the girls or boys when dressing provocatively in those extremely turbulent years of early adolescence.
Keep in mind that I reared three sons, no daughters. While I insisted they dress decently, there were minimal protests and I have no first-hand knowledge of the art of purchasing clothing for girls. I’ve heard of but never witnessed emotional meltdowns when a tween or young teen is told she must wear more modest clothes–and thereby possibly threatening her very survival in the eyes of her peers.
I also remember my own tense teen years as I sought my independence, but was nowhere near ready mentally or emotionally for it. The transition from child to adult is extremely tough for both youth and parents, with never-ending and utterly exhausting battles around every corner.With that in mind, I was still dismayed that multiple commentators could see no problems with such revealing clothing in a school setting.
I don’t get this. Academics have become an increasingly difficult setting for boys. Their bodies scream, “I need to move around and expel some of my excess energy” while the opportunities for needed movement shrink. Instead, pressure to sit still and learn quietly increase.
Additionally, during these years both boys and girls face hormonal storms that threaten to remove any possibility of rational response from their immature minds.
Why then, is it apparently OK to flash underwear for the world to see? Both boys and girls are guilty here.
We’re talking school, folks. Not the beach, not parties, not hanging out time. School. That place where heroes–that is how I define ANYONE who teaches for a living, and especially those who teach pre-teens and younger adolescents–perform superhuman feats hourly by pounding some essential knowledge into those hormone-addled brains.
Why, in the name of all that is decent and reasonable, would parents do ANYTHING to make that task more difficult?
I understand the concerns expressed. Commentators fear females are going to be blamed as provocateurs when sexually assaulted. Additionally, few would wish that we become like those who keep girls and women cloistered lest the just the sight of them incite the helpless male to irresistible lust.
I still ask: is it possible to agree on a general school-day dress code, without having to go to uniforms (which do have much to say for them) that honors both the need for personal expression and the need for respect, both for self and others?
Or, am I just too caught in a world that teaches at its core that all humans have a responsibility to treat others the way they want to be treated themselves that I am hopelessly out of touch with the “real world.”