(AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
This week students at New York’s Stuyvesant High School (my alma mater) protested a discriminatory dress code by participating in “Slutty Wednesday”—a day in which students deliberately violated the code that bars them, among other restrictions, from wearing anything that bares their shoulders. (The horror!)
Senior Madeline Rivera told the New York Times that the way in which the dress code is enforced singled those out those with certain “body shapes” or those who were “more curvy.” In fact, according to reports from students over the past few months, the code almost exclusively targets women in language and practice—a possible violation of their Title IX rights.
Another senior, Lucinda Ventimiglia, told the student newspaper, the Spectator, “I’ve been told that even though my skirts were technically acceptable, they were still too short for me to wear, and once it was suggested that I should follow a separate dress code, wherein my skirts should end at least four inches past my fingertips, and preferably at my knees.”
Ventimiglia also recalled being stopped by a school official who told her that her dress was too short that that she could “show off her curves” when she wasn’t in school. “She then went on to say that the dress code was only instituted for my protection, because there are a lot of bad men outside school, and if I was raped nobody would be able to take that away from me. Then, she said, ‘and you want a husband, don’t you?’ ” (For the record, what a woman wears is in no way connected to sexual assault.)
Tiffant Phan, a junior, says that Assistant Principal Randi Damesek stopped her for what she felt was an entirely appropriate outfit.
“Ms. Damesek took one look at me, sighed, and asked me what I was thinking when I went out of the house that morning. All I wore was a long-sleeved button-down, which was secured by a navy skirt and accompanied by floral cutout tights; I didn’t intend for it to be inappropriate in the slightest. At the moment, I was confused because I specifically made sure that the skirt covering my patterned tights was past my fingertips. She told me that the whole outfit was bad and that I looked like I was ‘going out for a Saturday night, not going to school.’ I think we all know what she was implying.”