The New Hanover County School Board in eastern North Carolina, which covers Wilmington, is considering a ban on jeggings. Among other ludicrous rationale, one board member is quoted claiming that “bigger girls” were targeted for bullying because of their tight-fitting pants.
If young women’s developing bodies are considered hypersexual or inappropriate, it is only because those who seek to regulate them have decided they are so.
And more importantly, no matter how much so-called “distraction” blame-shifting and disproportionate rulemaking takes place, it will ultimately do nothing to quell young women’s statistically proven, continued success in education over their male peers.
So I say let ’em keep their jeggings. And while you wring your hands, they’ll take over the world.
Heaven forbid, after all, that girls distract boys. Notice the dangerous sentence structure, with “girls” as the subject and “boys” as the object. Dangerous semantics when, if anyone is being made an object by these policies, it’s girls. If a young man cannot focus in class because of a young woman’s body, I’m more interested in the administration having a conversation with him, not the woman he has objectified.
Sure, I get it; you have a building so full of horny teenagers you can practically choke on the hormones when you walk through the door. Gross. An administration has to draw the line somewhere between self-expression and an educational culture where students can’t learn. I don’t envy that job, that’s for sure.
But if a teen girl is spilling out of tight jeans, it’s not her fault if the guys in her class are scoring lower on tests. She’s probably scoring higher because she’s better. Tuck in her love handles and the scores will come back the exact same way.
Dress codes like these count on two falsehoods: that women’s bodies are inherently more sexual than men’s and therefore in need of more regulation, and that women are to blame for any negative or violent reactions their bodies, clothed in any way, cause in men.
If you believe either of those things, you are the problem.
Such antiquated and wildly heteronormative notions about women clash sharply with reality as we experience it. More women than men are graduating from high school, and more women than men are enrolling and graduating from college and entering the workforce. It’s pretty much been that way since the ’80s. Heck, women are even more regularly involved in their religious communities than men. And many of them do so with their bra strap showing. Get over it.
For those in power who haven’t gotten over it yet, it’s only natural that outrageous policies continue to spring up in order to shift blame to women for having bodies that men themselves have hyper-sexualized. We see it in nature; threatened alphas tend to lash out in the wild when confronted with an usurper of power.
Inevitably, girls will someday wield the power to which their regulators currently cling. And jeggings, crop tops and bra straps — or the regulated lack thereof — will do nothing to stop them.