By Scarlett Constand
The Tower (Grosse Pointe, Michigan)
I remember a time where I wasn’t afraid to act how I wanted–whether it be plain or flashy. I was young, and I didn’t realize what my actions meant. I learned later, as many other girls would, that we have to tread lightly or risk the consequences.
School should be a safe place to learn and grow. However, there are rules that disrupt this environment, such as those that say how girls can and cannot dress. Girls have missed classes and their valuable learning because they’ve been sent home for “inappropriate dress.”
We should be able to wear whatever we want, within reason of course, but the line gets fuzzy when it comes to drawing it.
After a certain point, do boys get the right to criticize what a girl is wearing and what it may mean? Girls are not objects. We do not belong to anyone. We’re not your babe, and contrary to the popular belief, “no” doesn’t mean “yes.” It’s clear that however girls dress, whether it be modest or risque, we’ll always be a target for those who wish to scrutinize.
Sexism surrounds us in subtle ways. Whether it’s a dress code or imbalance of pay, girls need to stand up for themselves and stand up for equality.
According to a PBS program, 97 percent of the decision-making in the media is by men. This means that men control most of the media portraying women, as well as themselves. Men have most of the power, and many are adamant that there is no sexism in our society. That’s why girls everywhere need to strive for equality.
We’re taught in school that we can accomplish anything, regardless of our race, gender or sexuality. However, that simply isn’t true to an extent. The American Association for University Women (AAUW) reports that women are still paid anywhere from 53 to 87 cents for the male dollar, even though the Equal Pay Act was established in 1963.
In an AAUW article about sexual harassment, two previously-conducted surveys were discussed and analyzed for similarities. It was found that sexual harassment is an issue in schools nationally, including those like South. In the AAUW’s inquiry, a reported 56 percent of girls interviewed said that had experienced sexual harassment either by a school-related individual or in school, and 65 percent said they had been victims of public harassment. For many of these girls, they’d first faced sexual harassment before the age of 17.
It’s important to be aware of the statistics, and the data illustrated below clearly shows women are at a disadvantage. Our school has an obligation to make all students aware of what the “real world” is like. It’s not perfect, and it’s not accepting, but we’ll be better at navigating it if we’re given the right advice. There should be class assemblies that have us ask questions and discuss the current state of the world. This way, we can have the opportunity to speak up without the fear of being shot down or embarrassed.
This advice that we learn in a safe environment would give us a chance of finding our way in the world. When we leave for college and find careers, we can’t be blindsided by what we thought were the rules of our social structure.