The dress code farce, from the male perspective


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The dress code is a relic from a long-gone era that does nothing but stifle creativity and boggle reasonable minds.

With the recent announcement that Pioneer administrators will be enforcing the ever-archaic dress code from times past, the community is up in arms. The new dress code mandates the prohibition of short-shorts, crop tops, baggy shirts, and other popular dress items for both women and men. Many Pioneer students charge the administration with the willful targeting of the school’s female population. They point out that these changes disproportionately affect women and the clothes that they wear. Many Pioneer teachers and administrators would counter that school is a so-called “professional atmosphere” that has no place for the proverbial “hip” or “sexy.”

Those administrators would be wrong. Not in decades has school been a professional atmosphere. School in this day and age is just that: school. It’s where we all come to learn, not where we all work nine-to-five for a paycheck. We have not worn coats and ties to school since before every single current Pioneer student was born. Those who do, including football players on game day and band students on the day of performances, are mandated to do so. Kids who dress up of their own volition, usually face taunts and ridicule. 

It’s not just a matter of professionalism; it’s a matter of economics. One could make the general observation that popular and even lower-cost and lower-quality brands tend not to make the clothes that some Pioneer administrators would wish for. It’s cheaper and easier to buy trendy short-shorts than to search for womens’ shorts that reach specifically down to the edge of their fingertips. Sure, it is possible, but it’s a major inconvenience when womens’ closets are filled with “objectionable”clothing. The cat is out of the bag.

As for changes that are supposed to safeguard women from a male gaze, the dress code wouldn’t do anything anyway. People look at people. Regardless of gender, sexual expression, or physical appearance, we all have eyes. Platonic or otherwise, people like to lay their eyes on other people. Instead of stifling creativity and self expression, why not embrace it through loosening burdensome regulation.

Some would wish to go back to the days of coats, ties, and trilby hats. In some ways, I agree with that or already embrace that aesthetic, but it’s unreasonable to believe that students anywhere would endure that sort of hassle. As much as I enjoy wearing fancy clothes, it gets hot in our school buildings. It’s hot outside, it’s hot inside, so I wear shorts. I find ways to express my style through less-formal clothing and I thoroughly enjoy it. I also wish, though my female friends already do, for them to wear shorts and not to bake to death during warm months.

Many picture the free reign of anarchy without a dress code. They picture a future where students show up to school wearing nothing at all, and the dress code prevents that future from becoming a reality. But that future won’t ever happen because of the absence of a dress code. We already have a basic dress code, and that’s Michigan Public Law. You can’t go out with no clothes on anywhere without breaking public indecency ordinances. The dress code should act to prohibit individuals from wearing nothing but speedos or lingerie to school; not to target half the population of Pioneer from expressing otherwise reasonable creativity.

Some could never imagine Pioneer without a dress code. But one need not look further than a few miles up Main Street to Community High School, where the dress code is not rigidly enforced. Obviously obscene clothing is dealt with on a case by case basis while clothing generally considered to be reasonable is paid no mind. Pioneer should immediately drop enforcement of this backwards and targeted dress code. In this instance, less regulation is more. While Pioneer has the option to not enforce the dress code, it is still at the end of the day a district policy. Our school board, as dysfunctional as it is, must come together to end the days of Ann Arbor children being shamed and sent home all for wearing a belly shirt.