dressing & original thought

Hilary Bates hbates at amgen.com
Wed Aug 14 15:59:15 EST 1996


Sarah Boomer <sarai at u.washington.edu> wrote:
>The dress codes agreed upon by most local public schools is extremely
>non-sexist in terms of specifying the same attire for boys and girls -
>khaki pants of a certain beige color and navy blue shirt. There are no
>stipulations about shoes and one day of the week is reserved for choice
>attire.

I'd be interested to know whether choice is completely free in this
case. As I wrote in my previous post to this thread, at my first
high school, sixth-formers were not required to wear uniform, but
the general rule of "suitable for office wear" was imposed, and
Lower Sixth had more restrictions - they had to wear blue, grey,
black or white and were not allowed to wear trousers - and Upper
Sixth although allowed to wear trousers were restricted to "formal"
trousers - no jeans or cords (and if leggings had been around then,
I'm sure they'd have been banned too!).

  I think the only sexist manifestation is that many of the girls
>do seem to use a lot of make-up as a back-up means to rebel... (although
>we are talking about pre-teens here).  One of my women studies prof's from
>college was doing interesting research about feminist uprisings in Latin
>America, though, and had all this interesting information about women
>using "make-up" as rebellion because they were basically discouraged from
>wearing it in the pre-feminist awareness... I can't help but think about
>her anecdotes listening to my sister talk about all the make-up at school.

That's very interesting. In the UK, as far as I'm aware, it's only the
most extreme feminists who decry makeup as sexist/pandering to males/
whatever, and most of us mainstream feminists make our own choices.
I can't wear makeup because I'm allergic to all forms of it, but
would wear a little if I could. Far too lazy to do the whole shebang,
though! :-)

>The other division that still exists is economic, though.  Despite efforts
>to choose items that didn't have obvious labels, everyone still knows who
>does and doesn't have money because all the subtleties of the brand-names
>manages to creep out.  I am reading "Beak of the Finch" right now, a great
>book - and the whole middle school dress code reminds me of evolution
>during attrition - everyone trying to make their mark using the most
>subtle measurements!

Interesting again. One of the arguments against removing school
uniforms, which are still the rule rather than the exception in
the UK, was that uniforms provided a social levelling. Nevertheless,
there was still a difference between those girls who were making-do
with three- or four-year-old uniform clothes and those who had new
every year, or every time a small change in uniform was allowed,
so the social divisions *are* perpetuated.

Hilary
hbates at amgen.com
<><



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