Opinion: “I’m so distracted by her shoulders,” said no one ever


Sarah Clench and Brooke Newman

“Honey, you need to put on some clothing,” said a Ventura High School administrator. I was wearing high waisted, flowy pants and a tube top. Must I elaborate on how demeaning that statement is? This way of speaking to students is unacceptable, regardless whether or not my clothing was “provocative.”

And, I’m sorry, but no, my outfit was not “provocative.” I do not see the issue with wearing a shirt that shows my shoulders. Why should VHS’s administrative staff waste their time dress coding students for showing their shoulders, instead of focusing on legitimate campus issues.

School Office receptionist, Domenica Banales, said, “It’s hard to dress code everybody just because there [are] way too many of you and very little of us.” Instead of creating an unfair environment for students on campus by dress coding a select few, why not repeal the “no off the shoulder shirts rule,” since it poses no harm to anyone on campus.

On Wednesday, October 19, we conducted a school wide “off the shoulder/tube top day,” where over 100 students participated by showing their shoulders and peacefully protesting against this ridiculous dress code regulation.

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But, who makes these rules and offensive guidelines? Banales stated, “The district… It’s district policy, the rules and regulations. We just have to abide by it.”

Poll from Twitter: @thecougarpress

However, the district policy doesn’t prohibit students from wearing scoop neck and v-neck t-shirts, which are generally more “provocative” than tube tops, so how does this policy make any sense?

“I’ve never been dress coded for wearing an off the shoulder top but I think everyone knows what shoulders are and personally, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal,” sophomore Alyssa Cornwell stated.

This alone is a compelling reason to get rid of this dress code rule. Administration, you cannot dress code everyone for their provocative shoulders, so why even try?

Besides, in the grand scheme of things, aren’t exposed cleavage, bare midriffs, and buttocks more “provoking” or “distracting” than a girl’s shoulders?

Senior Cali Iadevaia said, “I think it’s messed up and sexist that we are not able to show our shoulders. Even the school is taking their clothes. I’ve heard [about] girls getting their tube tops taken away and I don’t think that’s appropriate or okay.”

Poll from Twitter: @thecougarpress

A legitimate issue that is worth addressing is not that what female students are wearing is inappropriate, but rather, the unjust double standards here on campus.

VHS prides itself on being a campus accepting of all students, but how are female students supposed to feel accepted when male students have more freedom over what they wear than females do?

To prove that’s so, male students are allowed to walk around campus shirtless for their sports practices and female students are not allowed to wear sports bras. Guess what administration, we get hot too!

Female students are also criticized and dress coded for wearing tank tops, yet for male students tank tops are completely okay to wear? Please tell me I’m not the only one who sees something seriously wrong with this.

And do not even get me started on the short shorts…. What makes the cross country boys butts less provoking than mine? They can run around school with their legs fully exposed and with everything out in the open for everyone to see, yet somehow my shorts are distracting?

Banales stated, “I think one time we [brought] somebody in because they were wearing the running shorts that were pretty short. So we [told them] they can’t be wearing that, [and] they have to wear longer shorts while they are going class to class.”

Below is the link to the full interview with Banales.

However, that’s one instance… And were his shorts confiscated or was he forced to change? The answer to that question is no. So basically it’s very rare for boys to be dresscoded at all, let alone for their short shorts.

Can someone please explain to me how a male can walk around completely shirtless, yet my shoulders are the provocative factor in this equation?

Freshman Abigail Martinez stated, “I don’t think that it’s something we should be focusing on, because [girls] aren’t being provocative.It’s mainly like an administrative problem. It doesn’t matter.”

Bottom line, if you’re offended by my shoulders that’s not my issue. The real issue here is that VHS staff members are enforcing a negative and inferior mindset for young women by telling them what they can and can’t wear, typically because “it distracts males in an educational environment.”

How female students are to blame for male students being distracted is beyond me. Instead, what’s really distracting and hampers my education, is the male students who whistle at me and make disgusting comments with their friends during school hours, regardless of what I’m wearing.

Boys, if you’re distracted by my shoulders, take your eyes elsewhere; chances are, I’m not interested in you or what you have to say anyways.

And administration, stop sexualizing me and my female peers. We’re more than the rules outlined by the dress code, and we’re certainly more than the demeaning comments that have been made towards our discretion.

Who knows, maybe one day our shoulders will shock the nation.