You know what sucks when you’re a teen girl just trying to pull it together for a school dance? Absurd dress codes. Finding a date and getting your first professional eyebrow waxing (if applicable) are a whole other can of glitter. But the last thing any 13-year-old girl needs to be told on her way to the local frilly dress store is that she can’t wear what she wants specifically because it will “distract boys.” However, a New Jersey principal has recently put an oh so sorely needed ban on strapless dresses for that exact reason.
Reuters reports that parents are rightly pissed that their daughters have been recently told that they can’t wear strapless gowns to the June 12th dance. And it’s not because the young ladies of Readington Middle School in Readington Township, New Jersey all have a penchant for gowns that showcase their shoulders. It’s because the middle school is tailoring the dress code to accommodate the wandering eyes of the men folk:
The school’s principal, Sharon Moffat, said in a letter last month that a “dress with straps” was the only style that would be allowed.
[Charlotte Nijenhuis, a parent] said she called Moffat to ask why strapless dresses had been forbidden. “She told me, ”˜It is because it’s distracting to boys and inappropriate’,'” Nijenhuis said.
Moffat did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.
This new dress code has some parents reportedly “livid” that their younger daughters aren’t able to have the same strapless dress experience as their older kids. But there’s a much bigger issue at hand here, as one student, 14-year-old Claudine Nijenhuis, as well as myself, see it:
“Basically by saying ‘it distracts the boys’ you’re also saying that it is our fault on how they control their own behavior,” the teenager wrote in a letter to the principal. “I will still be attending the dinner dance function, but I will also be wearing a dress with no straps.”
The Readington Township School District has addressed the dress code change with the following statement:
“[We have] a policy regarding dress code which is being universally applied to the school day and school events. We regret that a small number of families are upset by this and we welcome their input and communication.”
Such “you’re distracting the boys” policies echo the equally ridiculous tight jeans ban by another junior high — yet another learning institution that chose to blame girls for the behavior of boys. A problematic avenue to be escorting our daughters down to say the very least.
But the even larger question looms as to why Readington Middle School is assuming the worst of their young male students. If these young men are leching after their fellow female students simply because of what they’re wearing, then somebody needs to have the We Respect Women No Matter What They Are Wearing conversation. Reducing our sons to animals who can’t keep their hands to themselves unless said tempting flesh is physically concealed is ragingly offensive to our young men.
We should expect more from them. Not design dress codes around them.