Prom.

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So after the inundation of prom-posals and prom pictures on social media, I came across this story today and was slightly disturbed by it. { Clare's Story }
To summarize quickly, this girl, Clare, is 17 and was attending her home school prom. It was not a religious event and the only dress code regulation expressly stated was that girls could not wear dresses shorter than their fingertips (another problem in itself, but okay). So Clare complied with the dress code and went to prom. At the door, she was stopped by a chaperone saying that her dress was too short. After proving the woman wrong, Clare proceeded to have fun. Minutes later, the same chaperone came up to Clare's group of friends and informed her that her dress was too short (again), that her dancing was inappropriate (she hadn't been dancing) and that her dress and actions would cause the males in attendance to think "impure thoughts".

She was kicked out of her prom because her body was seen as too appealing.

According to Clare's story, the male chaperones were "ogling" the female students and were the ones who had the problem with her dress being too appealing. While this is a completely subjective view, I can totally see where this comes off as creepy.

On the other hand, I can see where an outfit can be over the top for a school event. In order to define what is inappropriate, a more comprehensive dress code should be set before the event. It cannot just fall to what a certain chaperone finds distasteful.

What seriously irked me about this incident:

Dress codes in general. Why were there regulations set for girls and not for boys? Sure, men traditionally wear tuxedoes to prom, which are less "offensive" than prom dresses, but this dress code issue is not solely confined to prom. I'm sure we've all encountered times when it was unbearably hot outside and yet girls are being critiqued for the clothes they chose to wear. I remember in early June of this past summer, a girl in my classroom was reprimanded for a tank top that she was wearing that showed off her arms, yet there were at least seven boys in the same class who were wearing tanktops as well.
Why is it that female bodies are so volatile to the world? How is it that a woman's arms are distracting to the teacher and the "learning environment" and a man's arms are completely normal? I think that part of it links back to Sarah Baartman and her display. Because we exist in a patriarchal society, the female body is still seen as exotic to a point and is overly fetishized. Women are displayed daily in media as objects of beauty that are meant to be desired. Telling a young girl that she is distracting men because of her body is reducing her personhood to that of a mannequin's. She becomes a spectacle, not unlike Sarah Baartman. While I am not being shown on a platform every day of my life, I, as a woman, undergo scrutiny where ever I go. While some of it may be subconscious, it is still present and it permeates my interactions with anyone. We are branded by the way that we dress and the desirability of our bodies in the clothes that we wear. My body is my body and it should not serve to offend anyone because of what I have chosen to dress myself in.

If someone is thinking "impure thoughts" in regards to the way that a woman, or anybody for that matter, is dressed, that's their own damn fault.

2 Comments

I agree with you! Dress codes in general are mostly for women (No spaghetti straps, no crop tops, no short skirts), yet, for men, the only thing that is specifically for them is that they cannot sag their pants. Women should not have to worry about other people's "impure thoughts" and they especially should not have to stop having fun at their prom for doing so. That chaperone should have expected that, I mean it is a public high school's prom; I'm not sure what the chaperone expected.
There is another problem entirely with the idea of dress codes. Dress codes in high school are created explicitly to "avoid distracting other students", but what if someones short hair is distracting to me? Should there then be a rule that all short-haired students must either go bald or grow out their hair immediately? Like you said, "if someone is thinking "impure thoughts" in regards to the way that a woman, or anybody for that matter, is dressed, that's their own damn fault."

I find this very interesting and I agree with you completely. Women (people in general) should be able to wear and express themselves with what they wear however they see fit. Me being male have never been put limitations on what is and isn’t acceptable to wear but in high school I remember friends of mine that were girls being sent home. This post reminded me of the reason they were sent home, they were sent home because they were to ‘tempting to males’. I think this is horrible that women’s problem is actually because males can’t help themselves. This is almost like saying it is women’s fault for being raped cause they were asking for it which is absurd.
The other day I was watching an episode of Law and Order where a woman got raped and the defense for the male was that he couldn’t help himself. At first I didn’t think twice about it thinking this stuff is all made up but then I decided to google if this defense has actually ever worked. To my surprise it has! Absolutely ridiculous! This goes to show how big of a problem we have in our society with dealing with issues that can actually ruin peoples lives.

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This page contains a single entry by Danté Sherrell published on May 14, 2014 10:25 PM.

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