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dressing & original thought

Karen Allendoerfer ravena at cco.caltech.edu
Tue Aug 13 17:49:19 EST 1996

In article <Pine.A32.3.92a.960812191729.57113C-100000 at homer25.u.washington.edu>,
Sarah Boomer  <sarai at u.washington.edu> wrote:
>The notion of a dress code, to me, means more about defining boundaries in
>a school setting.  My youngest sister is in the first class of students
>required to adhere to a dress code in the public schools (due to gang
>problems among other things).  It has worked amazingly well, having been
>economically put together by parents, students, and staff.  

I don't know a great deal about dress codes; perhaps I was fortunate in
that I grew up and went to school somewhere in between the rigid uniform
of the past and the guns and gangs of the present.  

But, when I was in school I did have some friends who were in private
school who had to wear uniforms, and the thing that always annoyed me
about uniforms or dress codes that I heard about (and which made me glad
I didn't have to adhere to any dress code) was that they were sexist.
Invariably, the girls had to wear skirts, and in upstate New York where
I was growing up, skirts meant cold legs, or skirts meant nylons and
flimsy uncomfortable shoes.  It never appeared that the boys had to deal
with either one of those things in their part of the dress code, only the

So, I was wondering, those of you who either know about or support the
idea of dress codes, what are they like?  Specifically, are the girls
allowed to wear pants and comfortable shoes?

>Interestingly, I met a police officer this weekend who works with the DARE
>program and they have been putting up public school dress codes.  His two
>cents for this discussion was that not only does a dress code provide
>safer rebellious acts but it also works better when children are actively
>asked to be a part of the decision making process.  

This sounds great.  I'm reminded though of a "dress code" that was in
use at an airline (I forget which one) that had make-up requirements
for women.  There was a woman who was transferred out of her customer
service job into a "less visible" (and less desirable) job because she 
wouldn't adhere to the make-up requirements (that is, she didn't wear
any make-up).  There were no make-up requirements for men.  At any
rate, when she sued for sex discrimination, the company came back and
told her that the dress code, including the make-up requirements for
women, had been designed and implemented by the employees themselves!

It seems to me that dress codes are okay and might even be useful and
do some good if they are implemented properly, but that a lot of sexist
bullshit can creep into them, even when they sound good on the surface,
and that gives me the willies.


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