We Heart: Students Wearing Scarlet Letters to Protest a Sexist Dress Code

Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 4.26.26 PMYoung women at the Charleston County School of the Arts in South Carolina have been pinning homemade scarlet letters to their clothing to protest a school dress code policy they say is sexist.

Organizers of the protest say they don’t oppose a dress code, but disagree with how it is disproportionately enforced with girls, while boys are given leeway to wear what they please.

High school junior and lead protestor Reese Fischer told local newspaper The Post and Courier:

Especially in the summer, you see guys walking around in muscle tank tops with half their sides hanging out and their pants hanging down, and they don’t get called out for that. They don’t get called out for wearing a hat, but a girl will get called out for a short skirt in a second.

Students also object to the body-shaming and fat-shaming language faculty and staff have used when citing dress code violations. One girl student told reporters that a guidance counselor told her that “heavier girls” should wear longer skirts. In another incident, a young woman wearing shorts says she was told by a faculty member to wrap a sweater around her waist. The faculty member scolded her, “You might as well be wearing underwear. I can’t believe you walked out the door like that.”

About 100 students and some staff have been wearing the felt scarlet letters, and Fischer has already met with the principal to discuss concerns about a strict dress code that objectifies female students.

The school’s dress code states that attire must be “appropriate, decent and non-distracting.” The implication that girls’ bodies are a distraction harkens to a viral hashtag from earlier this summer, #IAmMoreThanADistraction, where young women took to Twitter to show how fed up they were with unfair policing of their bodies.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Marie Coleman via Creative Commons 2.0






Associate editor of Ms. magazine