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Teens Fighting Sexist Dress Codes with #IAmMoreThanaDistraction

Young women fed up with being pressured to curate their appearance because it ‘distracts’ boys at school are taking to social media to challenge sexist dress codes with #IAmMoreThanaDistraction.

Last year a group of schoolgirls in New Jersey started #IAmMoreThanaDistraction as a protest against what some believe are unfair dress codes for girls, enforced to stop boys being ‘distracted’. Now that the school year is starting again, the hashtag is doing the rounds on social media to highlight these sexist standards once more.

Many take issue with dress codes because they sexualise women and enforce rape culture and slut shaming. Over-sexualising the female body puts the blame on women for ‘distracting’ men and teaches them to be ashamed of exposing their body parts. It’s a similar ideology that says women are 'asking' to be raped if they dress in a certain way. What is more, if we use ‘boys will be boys’ as an excuse for sexualising women, we are saying that men are inherently uncontrollable and unaccountable for their actions. Doing so shames and blames women for the few men who haven’t been taught that women are more than sexual objects. Instead, we need to teach that women shouldn’t have to stand for inappropriate behaviour like cat-calling and sexualisation.

In May, Toronto teenager Alexi Halket started the hashtag #CropTopDay after her school banned her from wearing a crop top deemed ‘too much like a sports bra’ by a male teacher. Halket refused to accept the ban and organised Crop Top Day on her birthday to protest against the sexualisation of female body parts. ‘Please wear a crop top, sports bra, bralette, bandeau, or anything similar and stand in solidarity against the sexualisation of women’s bodies on my birthday,’ she wrote on Facebook. #CropTopDay gained traction on Twitter, with women sharing pictures of themselves in crop tops to show their support and many echoing the sentiment of #IAmMoreThanaDistraction.

Another teenager was put in detention for wearing a dress deemed to be a ‘sexual distraction’ to male pupils at her high school in New Brunswick. In a letter to the school’s vice principal – for which she received a one-day suspension – Lauren Wiggins iterates that dress codes enforce the unfair standards which women are held up to in today’s sexist society, as well as being symptomatic of rape culture. ‘So no, Mr Sturgeon,’ she wrote, ‘I will not search for something to cover my back and shoulders because I am not showing them off with the intention to gain positive sexual feedback from the teenage boys in my school.’ In a Facebook post Wiggins said, ‘I’m absolutely fed up with comments that make us feel like we can’t be comfortable without being provocative.’


Aaron Waterhouse

Aaron is a recent English graduate from Durham University who is now working as a content writer intern. An enthusiastic traveller, he hopes to become a journalist and report from around the world. Follow him @AaronAtSMF.

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Teens Fighting Sexist Dress Codes with #IAmMoreThanaDistraction Reviewed by Unknown on Thursday, September 10, 2015 Rating: 5
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