It’s not about your daughter’s shoulders

A recent blog article is getting a bit of press by yet another person who is declaring that dress codes are… misogynist with a lovely article titled “The Apparently Immoral Shoulders of my Five Year-Old“. Take it away Mr Rouner…

Last Monday morning was a little colder than I expected, so I made sure that there was a warm change of clothes in my daughter’s backpack in case she wanted to change. She’d had her heart set on wearing her rainbow sun dress since the weather warmed up so I finally acquiesced and let her. Still it wasn’t too surprising to me to see her walk out of school that afternoon with her T-shirt on over the dress and her jeans on under it.

Okay, so at first it wasn’t surprising to see her wearing a T-shirt — albeit the how on that is a little odd. But when your daughter says the reason is that the dress she did wear was against the rules, this is what you wrote:

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.

Here is the dress code from the student handbook you linked in your article (page HB-37):

Students are not to wear clothing that is tight, loose, sagging, baggy, revealing, spaghetti-strap, backless, low cut or short.

Dresses – must not reveal underclothing, midsection, torso, back, chest, breasts, or cleavage and must be mid-thigh in length or longer

So the dress is clearly in violation of the dress code. So what’s the complaint about?

Have you ever stopped to think how weird a school dress code really is? I went and checked out the one for my daughter’s school district and it’s amazing in how hard it tries not to say what it actually means. There are literally no male-specific guidelines anywhere on that list. I mean prohibitions against exposing the chest or torso could hypothetically apply to boys except that they don’t. Not really. They don’t sell boys clothes that do that. There’s nothing that is marketed to boys that is in anyway comparable to a skirt or a sun dress. Essentially, a school dress code exists to prevent girls from displaying too much of their bodies because reasons.

So basically he is alleging that there is nothing that boys can wear “normally” that would violate the dress code for the district. And if he is actually going to stick to that claim, he’s extremely short sighted since there is something rather common for boys and men to wear that would violate this dress code without a problem: a tank top!

The dress code frowns on sandals as well, preferring closed-toe or tennis shoes. Send a kid to school wearing sandals showing advanced foot fungus and they’ll likely have him change — and yes I meant to say “him” since boys do actually contract foot fungus more than girls. Pants must be “fitted at the waist or upper hip and must not reveal underclothing”. Gee, I wonder who typically wears pants in a fashion that deviates from this? It certainly isn’t girls. Head coverings aren’t allowed as well — again something worn more by men and boys than women. And all students “must wear appropriate underclothing”. It ain’t only girls who like to go commando — though that would also apply to bras for women.

And when thinking of gang members, who typically comes to mind? I’m going to guess men. In particular, black men. So dress code provisions that prohibit gang-related paraphernalia will apply virtually exclusively to men. Sure women can be gang members as well, but they are certainly a small minority, outnumbered by as much as 9 to 1.

In actuality, what I wear to work would actually violate the dress code. I wear a collared shirt with a t-shirt underneath. Technically the t-shirt is “underclothing”, so if I wear a crew-neck t-shirt and don’t have the collared shirt buttoned up entirely to hide the t-shirt, I’m technically in violation of the dress code. A V-neck t-shirt with an unbuttoned collar shirt would also violate the dress code. But given how common that attire is in business and professional settings, they’d likely let both slide.

But you then go from calling all dress codes sexist to the dress code, in not allowing certain forms of dress, implying your daughter’s dress came from a sex shop:

I didn’t pick up my daughter’s dress at My First Stripperwear. It’s not repurposed fetish gear from a store for very short people. It’s a dress from a mall chain store in her size.


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.

Perhaps she forgot to mention she had shorts on under the dress, or perhaps they never asked her about it. To think that school professionals are trying to sexually shame a 5 year-old is beyond absurd, Mr Rouner. You’ve completely lost it by that point in your article. Plain and simple the onus is on you to know the dress code (as the student handbook states), just as the onus is also on you to know the dress code for where you work.

This is still going in 2015. It really is. We still live in a country where someone can decide the shoulders of, and I can’t stress this enough, a five-year-old girl are so distracting that they must be sent away and decently hidden. God knows what could possibly happen to her if not.

No. Those were rules that were established as a base standard over the entirety of the school district. Get over yourself! They’re not trying to shame your daughter. They’re not trying to say that her shoulders are “immoral”. Their dress code specifically says no spaghetti straps, so rather than creating exclusions for certain age groups or grade levels, they just apply it to the entirety of the district. That’s typically how these things work, and it’s how they worked when you and I were in school.

But given the lengths to which you’ve gone in your article, sir, the fact you’re implying they are trying to sexually shame a prepubescent girl… Give me a fucking break.

So hey, go ahead and act like an annoying brat of a child if they try to turn your daughter away again. I’d love to read about how many nights you spend in jail for it — particularly if you also show up in a dress. You’d really be setting a lovely example for your child. Actually you already are, by basically teaching her that dress codes are sexist, so she doesn’t have to abide by them.