The Weber dress code: is it gender-neutral?
January 24, 2019
The dress code is something all Weber students must abide by. Weber’s dress code has changed this school year, but is it truly equal for all students?
The Weber dress code of previous years had gender-specific language. It has also changed with fashion trends. For example, pants with holes used to not be permitted. Now, students can wear pants with holes or tears that are below the mid-thigh.
One rule that has changed from how it originally appeared in the 2018/2019 student and parent handbook. “Skirts shorter than mid-thigh or leggings that are not covered by a top that extends through the mid-thigh” were not allowed at the beginning of the year. Many female students took issue with this rule, as leggings are often worn as pants.
Dean of Student Affairs and 9th Grade English Teacher, Michael Bennett, expounded upon the change: “The administrative team made the decision to change the portion of the dress code this year applying to leggings; a number of student leaders asked to review this portion of the dress code, presented a shared rationale and met with members of the administration to review. The change was made after thoughtful consideration of all perspectives.”
While the Weber dress code is written using gender-neutral language, is it possible for the dress code to be equal for both genders? Mr. Bennett had this to say on the matter: “The Weber dress code itself is gender-neutral in its language, but our society’s views of dress are not. School dress codes are a reflection of communal cultural and social standards, which can certainly entail gender bias.”
One example of this bias involves shorts. Shorts for men are typically made to be well past mid-thigh length, but women’s shorts are not typically made that long. Junior Joey Rubanenko expressed his frustration with the dress code, saying that “there are more things women can wear to lead them to be dress coded [than men].” When asked about what he would change about the dress code, Rubanenko was of the opinion that girls should be allowed to wear shorts that are shorter than mid-thigh.
What should student involvement be in regard to the dress code policy? Weber sophomore Logan Sucan is of the firm belief that students should speak up if they have a problem with it. She is backed by Mr. Bennett. He believes students should “provide feedback and guidance when they have questions or concerns.”
The purpose of a dress code is to comply with standards of conduct set by the community, and therefore is reflective of the values within the community. The challenges that are in the way of making the dress code truly gender-neutral are rooted in the biases of our society about gender norms. When asked if she believes in the possibility of total gender-neutrality in our dress code, Sucan sounded resigned. “I don’t think anything will ever be truly gender neutral,” she stated. While that may or may not be the case, the progress of the Weber dress code indicates that our policies, and perhaps even the Weber community at large, are making definite strides towards gender-neutrality.