If you wear leggings, jeggings or tight jeans, we have some bad news for you: Officials at Devils Lake High School think you dress like a prostitute.
The North Dakota school recently implemented a new policy banning certain articles of clothing for female students, which by itself is bad enough: it's slut-shaming at its worst, and it also follows in the ridiculous footsteps of other schools. The way officials went about it this time, however, is particularly egregious.
An assistant principal told Valley News Live that female students were made to watch two clips from "Pretty Woman." The clothing of the main character — a prostitute — was then compared to the students'. An English teacher also allegedly "made reference to the girls looking like prostitutes walking the streets," reported the outlet.
The policy isn't meant to objectify girls, according to the assistant principal, but rather prevent other students and even teachers from getting distracted. (As if the situation wasn't disturbing enough already, we're now bringing grown men into something involving underage girls and sexuality.)
"[I'm] not too hot about it, because that's what everyone wears, that's their whole wardrobe," senior Mariah Fixen told Valley News Live. "So, basically sweat pants every day is what they're asking for." Classmate Taylor Gilbertson echoed her sentiment: "They should be focusing more on [anti-bullying efforts] and not dumb stuff like yoga pants. We should be able to wear whatever we want," she said.
It's more of the same. This kind of ridiculous behavior by school officials isn't new. In June, a North Carolina student was sent home on her last day of high school for violating the dress code — by wearing a sundress. And just one month before that, in Richmond, VA., 17-year-old Clare was kicked out of her own prom because of the "effect she was having on some of the fathers in attendance."
As Mic's Lauren Davidson wrote at the time, "By kicking Clare out, prom organizers implied that it was her duty to act demurely and dress modestly, rather than the men's responsibility to control their own thoughts and actions."
We're seeing the same thing in North Dakota. Though Devils Lake High School is issuing more of a "preventative" measure rather than targeting a specific student, their rationale is exactly the same as the other slut-shaming schools. They're forcing women to assume responsibility for the actions of others rather than telling male students and teachers that their behavior — being "distracted" — is inappropriate in a school setting.
It follows the same pattern as other forms of victim blaming in which women are told that they and they alone are responsible for the behavior of the men around them. This is doubly problematic, because it also assumes these male peers can't control themselves — an insulting and demeaning expectation in and of itself.
When schools act this way, nobody wins. Shaming teen girls for their bodies and their sexuality — something many of them are likely coming into for the first time — is harmful. The adults in charge should know better.
Take a cue from Missy Elliott, ladies — there's absolutely no shame in tight jeans or yoga pants.