Earlier this week, students at New York’s prestigious Stuyvesant High School staged “Slutty Wednesday,” a protest in response to the school’s implementation of a new dress code. The code dictates things like no bare shoulders, no visible underwear, and skirt hemlines no shorter than the tips of the fingers.
Needless to say, a number of girls participated in the protest — in which they walked around lower Manhattan wearing revealing clothing and handing out flyers — but what this protest had that many similar, other protests were lacking was a distinct point of view from the boys.
According to the New York Post, young men who participated didn’t just do so because they felt girls were being treated unjustly; they felt they were being treated unjustly as well:
Boys complained that the administration’s apparent emphasis on keeping the girls well-covered was not only biased, but it also maligned the guys as horny teens who can’t control themselves when they see too much skin.
If this doesn’t make me want to stand up and cheer, nothing does. (It does, actually, make me want to stand up and cheer.) This stance reflects one of the primary problems with any law, rule or regulation dictating what women can and can’t wear: It takes all of the responsibility for appropriate behavior off of men, and places it on women. At its core, it says that women are responsible for men’s reaction to how they look and what they wear, rather than the other way around.
Not only that, but as these boys point out, it assumes the worst about men; that the mere sight of a woman’s skin (or hair, or nails, or what have you) will make functioning in society utterly impossible for them.
What’s extra interesting about this is that the principal of the school, Stanley Teitel, claimed that the reason they instituted the code is that some of what was being worn was a distraction:
“The bottom line is, some things are a distraction, and we don’t need to distract students from what is supposed to be going on here, which is learning,” Teitel told The Stuyvesant Spectator.
But if it’s not distracting the girls’ fellow students, well, one has to wonder, who is it distracting?