Jef Rouner wrote a take-down of how his daughter being forced to change out of her spaghetti strap dress is total hypocrisy.
Taste the double standards. (photo by Jef Rouner, via Houston Press)
It was spring in Houston, and Jef Rouner's 5-year-old daughter was excited to wear a dress to school to celebrate the fine weather. He packed a spare outfit in case the weather cooled. When he picked her up after school she was wearing a shirt over her dress and jeans underneath, a kind of hybrid of both looks. Her dad asked her if she had gotten cold. Nope. She told him, "I had to change because spaghetti straps are against the rules."
Here's some of what Rouner had to say about that:
I'm not surprised to see the dress code shaming come into my house. I have after all been sadly waiting for it since the ultrasound tech said, "It's a girl." I didn't think, though, that it would make an appearance when she was five years old. Five. You get me? She's five. Cut her hair and put her next to a boy with no shirt on and she is fundamentally identical.
Pretty easy to agree that someone who thinks a five-year-old's shoulders are sexual has the problem. He continues:
You know what really grills my cheese about it? It's not even the shirt they made her put on over her top, it's the pants they made her wear underneath. It's a full-length dress that she has to hold up to keep from getting wet in uncut grass. She even had a small set of shorts underneath because it was gym day. But because the top part of her dress apparently exposed the immoral sinfulness of her bare shoulders she also had to pull on jeans even though her legs remained completely covered as part of her punishment.
IS THIS APPROPRIATE FOR THE PLAYGROUND? (photo by Jef Rouner, via Houston Press)
There are so many instances of women being shamed for what they wear to school that I made this sentence longer so there'd be more places to link out to. You will hear about boys too, but as Rouner points out, it's usually because they're challenging gender norms:
The only time I've ever seen it go the other way around was when I was fighting the battle for my long hair throughout middle and high school. That was last century, but I had a friend go through the same thing with Needville ISD less than a decade ago with her son. And why? Because long hair belongs on girls. There's literally no other possible reason to force a boy to cut his hair if he doesn't want to.
The only way things are gonna change is if people like Rouner keep kicking up a fuss about it. Women should have autonomy over their bodies and if you're too distracted by spaghetti straps to do your work, that's your problem—but the idea that anyone would be distracted by a five-year-old is ridiculous. If you have a little girl, this is Rouner's advice on how to teach them to demand respect:
In the meantime I think I'll employ the greatest weapon a five-year-old possesses; the question "Why?" The next time the kid wants to wear her dress I'm going to let her, and I'm going to tell her that there's nothing wrong with it or her because she is dressed in a perfectly normal manner and cute as a button to boot...And if anyone tells her to change I'm going to advise her to ask why and to keep on asking that person "Why?" until she gets an answer she likes.