…one man's contribution to the Weeeeerly Wild World
…or is it uniformity?
A group of school boys in the UK have been protesting this week about not having the option to wear shorts during the warm weather, choosing instead to wear skirts to school.
Really such protests have been going on for decades; typically school rules would stipulate that girls have to wear skirts all year round, suffering cold weather in the winter. When I was at junior school, as boys we had the option to wear shorts, but at high school trousers were the norm, if not a rule.
While the boys might think they’re circumventing their school rules, or exploiting what might be seen as a sexist loophole, they’re probably still breaking their school’s rules. The rules likely state skirts for girls and trousers for boys. Therefore, their choosing to wear skirts is missing the point: they want to wear shorts, so why not just wear shorts?
Obviously choosing to wear skirts grabs more attention, and certainly with it being a group of them more so, but I’m thinking that if the same number of these students just went into school wearing shorts as they wanted, they’d achieve their aim more directly with little more chance of repercussions.
Of course the students “could be sent home” (or receive other punishment) for failing to comply with the school’s rules, and they wouldn’t be able to object on grounds of sexism.
The fact is there are two genders (without getting into a discussion about there being otherwise) and differing fashions, tastes and customs for each, and school uniform rules have traditionally reflected this; trousers, shirts and ties for boys and skirts and blouses for girls. It’s only been during the past decade or so that trousers have become an option for girls, for various reasons. To not give boys the option to wear shorts must also have layers of reason, such as an aesthetic/image one that would be expected to persist through to employment in certain circles.
The topic of choice is an interesting one I think. Sometimes I think there is too much choice or a lack of rules regarding dress-code, in modern-day employment at least; just this month I was in a sports store, which has branches nationwide, where the issued attire was of such casual style that a customer mistook another customer for a member of staff.
With regards to students objecting to rules about school uniforms, one should look down to see if they’re wearing actual school shoes or not; of the pictures I’ve seen, black trainers seem to be “acceptable” which in the light of not being allowed to wear shorts seems preposterous; rules have clearly become more and more relaxed over the years and this current protestation is just another step towards a pointless stance on the school’s behalf. In the picture below c/o Google, half the boys are without their ties for heaven’s sake (not to mention the one on his phone).
Even when there are stipulated rules this doesn’t remove the existence of choice; if school rules stipulate boys must wear trousers, boys do still have the choice to adhere to that rule; one would of course risk punishment by not complying and one has to weigh up the consequences by not complying, such as disrupting their own education, which is the primary reason for attending school, is it not? It’s not like students these days risk getting a caning or a thwack round the back of the head when they get home (although some still might). A school also has a choice regarding which punishment to employ where rules aren’t complied with: punishing a student that has an A* potential with expulsion and a ruined future might seem excessive but if it ensures the status quo is maintained, “then so-be-it” maybe the choice.
Outside of school and into employment the risks are in some ways similar; a rule for employment might stipulate that men are to wear trousers and if one chooses not to comply they may be met with punishment which could lead to one losing their job (and a ruined future)… this isn’t to say that similar to school one doesn’t still have a choice about complying 😉
To me, the school environment (and beyond) is one of uniformity. Uniformity only works when all comply. It’s about a system and many people are so caught up in this system that they forget that choice even exists; even the choice to attend. Yes, some people think attending school is compulsory; it’s not. I think education is important, but as long as a child is receiving a well-rounded education then it doesn’t matter if this is being carried out in a typical school environment, at home, or otherwise; it’s just that by choosing the school route one has to agree to comply with the system… or at least be playing it; which I guess is what boys wearing skirts to school is all about.