I've excelled myself this time – I know punctuality is not my strong point, but being two days late for Feminist Friday just seems wrong.
Anyway, my point is quite brief this week and it refers to the decision, reported by BBC News, of Northgate School in Ipswich, to ban skirts from its school uniform.
I listened in horror as I heard a discussion on BBC Breakfast talk about this the other day.
The view was put forward that it was too distracting for boys to see young girls in short skirts.
Again, the assumption is that it’s the female of the species who should amend her behaviour accordingly. Should we not be making it clear to boys that, Not Ever, are they entitled to behave inappropriately towards girls and what they are wearing is completely irrelevant?
It’s depressing that all too often people make assumptions that girls who wear short skirts to school aren’t necessarily interested in academic work, shall we say. It’s a load of utter nonsense. There is no correlation between skirt length, intelligence, aptitude and potential. Banning skirts of any length just reinforces this prejudice and for that reason alone I think it’s wrong.
Earlier this year, I wrote about how some misguided fool at Glasgow City Council had written to parents advising them not to let their children wear short skirts or tight trousers to school to avoid attention from paedophiles. I was annoyed by some of the comments posted – one person even suggested that girls in short skirts were more at risk of becoming “the school tart” than of being targeted by a paedophile. Again, derogatory language used to describe a female which would never be thought of when discussing what boys get up to.
I think we all know that high school years are punctuated with lessons spent daydreaming about the latest object of your desire instead of quadratic equations, the periodic table or Lady Macbeth at her most dastardly. We all did it regardless of what anybody was wearing. And it doesn’t necessarily end when you leave school, either. Growing up is about learning how to behave in relationships, how to form adult friendships and that is every bit as important as academic development. School is the right place to kill off ill-informed assumption and prejudice, not perpetuate it.