Lauren Wiggins, a senior at Harrison Trimble High School in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, was given detention Monday for wearing a floor-length halter dress to school. A school official supposedly told her it was a "distraction" to her male classmates. Wiggins says the school’s dress policy is an example of “unjust standards that we as women are held up to.”
Hooray! Another female martyr standing up to the evils of patriarchy!
Except that the school's dress policy applies to boys, too. The school's dress policy forbids "shirts exposing shoulders and/or backs and/or midriffs (spaghetti straps, tube tops, halter tops)." And it includes a ban on “muscle shirts,” a particularly male garment designed to expose male underarms.
Hmm. I haven't seen any boys protesting the ban on muscle shirts. And if they did, I wonder if they'd get in the news.
So why is Lauren Wiggins the feminist icon-of-the-day while her just-as-oppressed male classmates aren't protesting anything -- in fact, they are considered the bad guys in the Lauren Wiggins saga who need to learn to exercise self control while Lauren wears whatever the hell she wants?
The fact is, boys are more oppressed at school than girls. Have been for a long time. From the grade spike girls enjoy just for being girls, to the gender imbalance in incidents of corporal punishment, to dress codes, boys are second class citizens in schools. This is not to say that girls don't have their share of problems, it's just that the scales are more stacked against boys nowadays, and the burdens that girls shoulder are blown out of proportion--Lauren Wiggins is a case in point.
Take the whole baring underarms thing. Schools are more likely to let girls show underarms than boys. You see, there's something threatening to teachers and administrators about boys' underarms. A lot of school districts have told boys they can't display their underarms even though their female classmates are free to do so. Why is this, you ask? Because girls' underarms are considered "more aesthetically pleasing," some say. Some school administrators are more blunt. They justify the double standard by nothing that boys' "hairy armpits are not attractive," in fact they're "really gross."
In contrast, pre-pubescent boys are often permitted to wear tank tops because "there is nothing sexually alluring about a kindergarten boy in a tank shirt."
Sexually alluring? Oh, now I get it. The whole underarm thing is about sex. Hairy armpits are a no-no because they remind teachers that pubescent boys are . . . pubescent boys. We mustn't remind horny teachers that boys are sexual creatures. (By the way, the tank top double standard is just fine and dandy with girls.)
For a long time, some boys had to fight to have long hair. Boys have been sent home en masse to shave--they are often told it's either shave or leave school. Little 12-year-old boys with peach fuzz mustaches have been threatened with indefinite suspension. Whole debates raged over whether a boy was sporting a mustache or just peach fuzz.
Then there's the whole thing about boys' feet. In some high schools, girls don't have to wear socks, but sexy bare boy feet are too much for some administrators--boys must wear socks and may not wear sandals.
These double standards are acceptable because it's just the way it is, and only female martyrs are allowed to challenge the way it is. When boys challenge it, they're just trying to get away with something.