Parkway West’s dress code is sexist


Katie Spillman

Photo illustration of two students standing side by side.

Dress codes are an often debated policy, from courtrooms to the desks of lawmakers. The controversial point is sexism, whether these codes enforce an ulterior agenda or if they promote a safe learning space.

The real question in the Parkway Dress Code Policy debate is not “Which shirt should we allow them to wear” but rather “Are the policies designed to keep us safe or are they really just sexist?”

From a young age, I was always told to cover up. Never wear anything cut too low or too short. I was told that if I didn’t follow these rules, I would have to change clothes, and I watched as girls I knew were told to put on jackets that didn’t belong to them by school administration in middle and high school. I think it’s sexism. I think that the male population should be able to sit in a room with a girl’s shoulder showing and still pass their math quiz. These ‘dress code violations’ have become a scapegoat for laziness.

By saying a low cut shirt is a ‘distraction’ to the male students, doesn’t that show how little we expect of men? This idea in itself defines how the dress code is sexist, because the dress code applies to all gender identities, not just the traditional standard of male and female. Many people would say that everyone benefits from the dress code. However,  It is harmful to not only cis women, but also cis males, transgender students and all other gender identities.  

Students in the United States feel that dress codes are more harmful than helpful. Students around the world rally behind activists who say that dress codes are sexist and cause girls to feel like they have to cover. This can hinder confidence and individuality, which is how the #IAMmorethanadistraction campaign started. All too many times we hear the administrators harp or the teachers say that this is a workplace, a place where it is our responsibility to not wear clothes that are distracting. To not wear clothes that show too much leg, too much shoulder. In fact, we feel the need to hide our bodies, be ashamed of the features that make us so unique. Parents, teachers and students argue that dress codes make us ‘look’ better or promote a more professional atmosphere, but since when has the type and shape of cloth on our bodies defined who we are and how intelligent or successful we will become? It should never be like that. Dress should not affect people’s view of our futures, only our potential should.

Though Parkway dress code may be vague, the meaning behind it is not. Take the specific clothing items mentioned. Five of the nine specific things mentioned were geared towards the female body. What defines some of those words? What is a “low cut” shirt on a guy? The answer is: nothing, there is no such item. The dress code is far more restrictive on what women can wear in comparison to men. It’s because women are more comfortable showing more skin, and it goes back to the ideology and creation of our society. Regardless, Parkway’s dress code is sexist.