My female students tell me that they would much prefer wearing pants to skirts and dresses. They say that pants are far more comfortable and more suitable for P.E. and playing on the monkey bars during recess.
Are uniforms sexist? I don’t think so.
That argument is going too far and it causes girls to think of themselves as victims when they aren’t.
Having said that, I hope that girls are given the option of wearing school sanctioned trouser options so that they can feel comfortable at school. They may not be victims, but there is still an opportunity there to address their comfort needs.
The debate about whether or not it’s sexist has heated up in recent weeks:
Cultural learning senior lecturer and psychologist Amanda Mergler pointed out in her piece on The Conversation that some parents felt requiring their daughters to wear dresses and skirts was outdated and amounted to gender disadvantage.
To this, I say piffle.
Dresses are not passe. Skirts are not discriminatory or symbols of sexism. They do not limit female power or confidence.
And having our boys and girls dressed the same — as boys, effectively — does not make them the same.
They are not, never should be, and clothes do not make the man (or woman). Celebrate difference, because difference between genders does not mean better or worse and schoolchildren should not be encouraged to see themselves as a homogenous, genderless blob.
Dresses are not by their nature sexualising creations.
Dresses and skirts are cooler in the heat of summer, have more wriggle room for wearers and are more easily kept looking neat.
But there are naysayers. A Journal of Gender Studies paper published in 2013 said dresses and skirts as school uniforms “ritualised girling” and affected the performance of the wearer.
Proponents of homogeny say dresses require girls to be more demure, and to walk, run and sit differently.
Dresses have a habit of ballooning in a breeze and girls are always at risk of showing their underwear.
The anti-dress brigade also argues dresses make girls more quickly available sexually. Yes, they seriously say that.
It is not sexist to wear a dress, just as it is not sexist to call someone a woman, as if by saying that, it is all she is. It is discriminatory to act as if wearing a skirt delegates that person to a lesser station, which is effectively what is contended by Mergler.
This is political correctness gone loopy, a distraction from the core issues around school uniforms. Surely, they are about practicality, appropriateness and, because this is a world where we seem to require it in every facet, choice that are subjects of discussion, not whether girls should wear dresses.