May 11, 2014 12:05 pm -

Women of the FutureIn March, Administators at Haven Middle School (Evanston, Illinois) notified parents that female students are no longer allowed to wear shorts, leggings, or yoga pants. Why? Because those clothes might be “too distracting” for their male peers. And, while some say that the boys should be responsible for their own behavior, others say that the girls provoke the boys by wearing these things.

The girls are fighting back:

More than 500 students have signed onto a petition protesting the new dress code policy, which they say is sexist because it’s only targeting girls’ clothing. Some female students have chosen to defy the ban and are wearing leggings and yoga pants to school in protest. A poster plastered in Haven Middle School reads, “Are my pants lowering your test scores?”

“Not being able to wear leggings because it’s ‘too distracting for boys’ is giving us the impression we should be guilty for what guys do,” one of the students participating in protest, 13-year-old Sophie Hasty, told the Evanston Reveiew.  “We just want to be comfortable!”

Let’s zip across the country to the City of Snoqualmie in Washington state, where there is a recent tradition called May Madness at Mount Si High School:

May Madness seems to be a Mount Si High School tradition about five years running – whether you agree with it or not. It’s a ‘beauty’ contest set up in brackets like college basketball’s famed “March Madness.”

It matches girls in a one on one in a contest of looks. Contestants are picked by boys. Voted on by boys. The girls neither opt in nor opt out. They are essentially unconsenting participants – sometimes even matched against a good friend.

In response to this annual tradition where girls are rated on hotness (which, for some reason, administrators have not stopped), the students themselves have stepped up with a campaign called “Be Above the Madness.”

Yesterday, May 6, 2014, the group organized a positive protest to the May Madness contest.  They made t-shirts and wore them to school. One side of the shirt has a graphic of a tournament bracket and the other side proclaims, “Be Above the Madness.”

They distributed about 50-60 t-shirts at Mount Si – actually running out because so many students asked to wear them. Wilson said the shirts also provoked questions, with many students asking how they can get involved.

When asked what message she hopes to send to the boys who started the contest, Wilson said she wants them to know while what they are doing is harmful, she doesn’t blame them…

Wilson may not place blame, but stands firm that the boys’ actions aren’t justified and says she’s tired of hearing the contest written off as “boys will be boys.

It’s never too early to start pitting girls against each other in a competition about looks, it is also never too soon to excuse boorish behavior from boys. The message to boys is damning, too: you are animals incapable of controlling yourselves, so why bother?

For Wilson, it boils down to school being a place for students to develop ideas and grow intellectually, not to be taught they are defined by how attractive they are to the opposite sex. She says May Madness is not just an issue of respect and hurt feelings. She feels it goes beyond that, saying objectification is often times the first step toward justifying violence against someone.

Wilson say contests like these plant seeds with young kids – that boys are allowed to judge girls in this way and girls need to adhere to boys expectations to be valid. She sees May Madness reflecting “a deeply engrained flaw in society.”

Indeed it is.

And there is no winning. Women are encouraged to strive to be objects of men’s desire and then criticized when they look do, or worse. Boys are excused for their boorish behavior and given a pass instead of being taught to be a gentleman. And we start them young, both the boys and the girls.


No responses to ‘Are My Pants Lowering Your Test Scores?’

  1. arc99 May 11th, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    The boys in high school might still be too young and dumb to realize this, but there is no excuse for the parents.

    I will make it simple. Whether you are in middle school or are heading for a retirement home, there is only one person in the entire universe who is responsible for what happens between your ears. That person is you.

    I have been a teenaged boy and I understand completely the reaction that occurs when raging hormones and visual stimulation are mixed together. I am now a 61 year old man and I understand completely that the reaction was my responsibility and no one else’s. If I were a parent of a student at this school, whether my child were male or female I would be right there with those protesting students asking if there are any adults in charge.

    But why stop with leggings and yoga pants, and why only female students? As I recall, some of my female high school teachers were quite appealing to 15-16 year old boys. So to carry this logic to its ridiculous conclusion, female teachers must also avoid dressing in a manner that may stimulate the male populace. No skirts, two layers of clothing above the waist, buttoned to the neck at all times, flat shoes only, hair covered at all times, no perfume or makeup.

    Let our schools follow the trail blazed by Saudi Arabia back to the 11th century. Yeah, that’s the ticket to a quality education for all.

    • Dwendt44 May 11th, 2014 at 1:10 pm

      Skirts should cover the ankles too, no need to tempt those little monsters.

  2. Anomaly 100 May 11th, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    C’mon, yoga pants?

    • Um Cara May 11th, 2014 at 12:50 pm

      While I certainly don’t agree with this rule – if you don’t understand the impact of yoga pants upon men and boys you must not be A Dude.

      • Anomaly 100 May 11th, 2014 at 12:52 pm

        No I am not a dude, but I hold dudes accountable for their actions. This rule targets females as if the boys are innocent.

        • Um Cara May 11th, 2014 at 1:00 pm

          Which is why I share your objection to this rule. I’m just not confused by why yoga pants would be included in such a ridiculous rule should such a ridiculous rule exist (I interpreted your specifically calling out yoga pants in your comment as confusion as to why they would be included).

          As A Dude I would like to categorically state that I am in favor of women wearing yoga pants in any and all circumstances whether it be yoga class or the opera. I suspect middle school boys would be just as strong in their support of their female classmates doing the same.

          • Anomaly 100 May 11th, 2014 at 1:19 pm

            I confuse people sometimes. I wonder at times if I do it on purpose without realizing it:-)

        • Carla Akins May 11th, 2014 at 1:48 pm

          Yeah, I don’t get it either so I asked Jamie. He says “oh yeah” the guys at work chat inappropriately amongst themselves all the time about the “chicks in leggings”. So I guess it’s a guy thing.

          That said, when I was in high school, my slutty butt lived in mini skirts and cleavage revealing v-necks. I never got called out on it and in hindsight some were clearly inappropriate.

          • Anomaly 100 May 11th, 2014 at 1:51 pm

            Had to feature that comment. It’s totally not because I want everyone to know about your ‘slutty butt.’ I swear.

          • Carla Akins May 11th, 2014 at 2:09 pm

            Yea, yea. Of course somehow we all managed to get through school, in spite of spending all that time trying to get each other attention. Jamie tells me that he carried a textbook, uh…in front….for the entire 4 years of high school. I’m pretty sure high school boys were all riled up before yoga pants were invented.

      • Tengrain May 11th, 2014 at 6:46 pm

        I am a Dude, I understand the rush of hormones. Sure I did the long gaze (I could find a wrist sexy and did), and I suffered the books-in-front walk to my locker. But even then I knew that my behavior was mine alone.

        The point is that culturally, we excuse men for being men, but we blame women for just being.



        • Um Cara May 12th, 2014 at 12:41 am

          *The point is that culturally, we excuse men for being men, but we blame women for just being.*
          If that were true there wouldn’t be so many boys on ritalin. Dudes get blamed for being dudes all the time, dude.

    • BanditBasheert May 11th, 2014 at 1:03 pm

      Granddaughter lives in yoga pants and leggings. It’s COLD where she lives. And she hates jeans and they aren’t comfortable to wear for her.

      On the other hand, she is also a high school cheerleader – and wears her uniform at school occasionally which does attract attention.

      Sometimes wardrobe truly can be practical – schools are not always warm and toasty and it isn’t always good sunny warm weather. Yoga pants and leggings can and are also practical especially in colder climates.

      But I agree … not that it surprises me that girls would be targeted and boys not be targeted.

      • Aquaria May 11th, 2014 at 6:13 pm

        I wish there had been leggings and yoga pants when I was in school. It seems like very little fit me properly besides dresses, since I had the dreaded J-Lo butt. I wasn’t wide across, it all stuck out in the back; ergo, it was just about impossible for me to find a pair of the ubiquitous jeans of the 70s, or, heck, even a skirt that fit me properly. If something fit in the waist, I couldn’t get it over my rear. When it fit the bubble pack, I had a gap at the waist in back that I could put most of my textbooks in.

        It sucked.

        Now I wear leggings and comfy tops, and not much else. I like how comfortable they are. I like how they allow for the oddities of my figure. I like that they’re forgiving of the changes I go through with PMS and the rest.

        I don’t even own any other kinds of clothes anymore. It’s leggings and tops, leggings and tops, and why not? It’s my body. I should get to decide how I cover it up.

  3. Um Cara May 11th, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    We had this rule when I was in school, with the same reasoning, though it was in reference to shorts and skirts. Skirts had to be long enough to go past the fingertips when your arms were extended, shorts were just outlawed. The rules applied to both boys and girls. There were some rules that only applied to boys (hair length and earrings).

    • Tengrain May 11th, 2014 at 6:38 pm

      So boys’ skirts had to be that long too, eh?


      The point is that dress code rules and behavior rules have to apply to all students and not to just some. That’s fair.



      • Um Cara May 12th, 2014 at 12:40 am

        *So boys’ skirts had to be that long too, eh?*
        Yep, though I don’t know that anyone tested it. Had a guy who used to come to school in a kilt, it was long enough & he didn’t get hassled by the man for it. Had he flashed a little too much thigh though he would likely have been sent home, but as far as I know he only had one kilt & it was more than regulation length.

  4. Shades May 11th, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    I’m surprised the American Taliban hasn’t tried to force female students to wear burqas.

  5. mea_mark May 11th, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    The best part about all this, is the ways the students are becoming socially active in a way, as to change the behavior of all the students through activism. In the end that may prove to be a very rewarding educational experience. Our society today definitely needs more people fully engaged in what is going on around them. I say if the students want to set rules for themselves and what they can and can not wear, let them. Responsibility should always be encouraged.

  6. causeican May 11th, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    When I was in high school (1960’s), boys could not wear sandals because their feet stunk and girls feet did not. This was explained to me after I had been wearing sandals for my sophomore and junior years.

  7. Mike N. May 12th, 2014 at 10:43 am

    It’s probably not just their “peers” who are being distracted, if you get my drift. That’s probably the impetus for the rule.
    If I were a girl there I’d were yoga pants with “JOHN 3:16” across the butt and really mess with people.

  8. dcparham May 12th, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    as with most social issues, Christianity beliefs and practices not withstanding, the high ground should be taken here as well: rather than legislating dress code for those reasons [it’s not like they’re against lingerie and pajamas], they should educate the kids to respond properly to the opposite sex considering their commonalities, and differences – in other words, girls understand the immaturity of boys and don’t try to tease them, boys understand that girls need to be treated with respect. sound vague enough? well, it is still worth the fight to establish a more mature way to go about it, than the never-ending rabbit hole of simple extreme censorship. agree on what should be censored, address it publicly to keep the issue open for discussion that all may grow in that complex issue that applies to life after school, too.