Thedebate on dress codes has been in existence for a long time. For manyyears, there has been controversy over what should be worn by men, aswell as what is considered appropriate dress code for women. Culturedefines what women ought to wear and what they should avoid wearing.In addition, cultural values determine what should be worn by men andthe dress code that is inappropriate if worn by men. It can be arguedthat the focus on dress codes has been more on women and girl’sclothing while little attention is paid to what men wear. This hasbeen supported by dress code policies that dictate the choice ofclothing for both males and females. This paper will support theargument that dress codes focus more on women and girls than males.In addition, the paper will highlight the impacts that dress codeshave on the school environment.
Thesociety focusses more on the dress codes of females while the type ofclothes that should be worn by men are given little attention. Thiscan be supported by the fact that cultural definitions determineclothing for men and women. In many cultures, there are norms andtraditions that bar women from wearing certain cloth types whilelittle is said about what men should not wear. For example, in someparts of the world such as certain West African countries andIndonesia, the clothes that are worn by men are a representation ofwhat the West can refer as a dress. In countries like Indonesia, bothwomen and men wear the sarong, a cloth that is long enough and can bewrapped, resulting to a tube. This is not the case in the Americanculture where the Sarong is only worn by women. For the men who weardresses that resemble skirts, they it is considered unacceptable asthis is seen as purely a woman’s form of clothing. This impliesthat the focus of dress codes has been inclined more on the femalegender than the male gender (Arvanitidou and Gasouka 111).
Theargument of focusing on women with regard to dress codes can also behighlighted by the fact that the mode of dressing for women can beused as a control mechanism. This takes place through the enactmentof policies and rules, which distinguish between what men and womenshould wear. Many policies have focused more on restricting women’sdress codes to what is considered as culturally acceptable dresses.This has been a looming debate in many political circles wherebypolitical leaders have passed laws that dictate what women shouldwear. For example, some laws prohibit women from wearing very shortdresses, and encourage them to wear dresses that are long enough toconceal their bodies. This can be exemplified by the dress codes inIndia, as well as Arabic and Muslim cultures where wearing of shortdresses for women is prohibited. The policies passed do not dictatewhat men should wear, but rather put too much emphasis on women’schoice of clothing (Crane 24).
Justlike gender, fashion and dress codes for both men and women hasbecome a social construction. This explains why masculinity is usedto define what men and women should wear. While in some societies thewearing of skirts for men is not considered a cultural violation ofnorms, wearing trousers for women may be viewed as culturally wrong.This is because shorts and trousers display masculinity and sincewomen are feminine, they should not wear such clothes. In some cases,it is argued that, in order to make a clear distinction between menand women, the wearing of trousers should be a preserve of men andwomen should desist from such kind of clothing (Crane 26).
Thenotion that dress codes focus more on women’s clothing than men’sdressing can be supported by the fact that workplace policies definewhat should be worn by either gender. While it is a common practicefor men to wear official attire and appear presentable in theworkplace, the wearing of official attires by women many notnecessarily be supported in the workplace. For example, mostorganizations have come up with policies that discourage womenemployees from wearing miniskirts in the workplace as this is likelyto distract male employees and hinder their performance. In addition,wearing such clothes for women is seen as an indecent act that mayput off some customers. Thus, a lot of emphasis is placed on whatwomen employees ought to wear and what they should not wear. In someextreme cases, women who have who wear dresses that are consideredindecent risk losing their jobs (Arvanitidou and Gasouka 112).
Thenotion of tight clothing also supports the argument that dress codesfocus more on what the women and girls wear. Women employees areexpected to wear clothing that can be regarded as both fitting andneat. Workplace discrimination of women in some cases may happenbecause a woman has worn a tight cloth. Such women employees may besent home to wear loose clothes that do not expose their bodies“indecently” as alleged by employers. These policies do not applyto men and this is an indication that women are the center ofattraction when it comes to dress codes. There are some instanceswhereby women employees are required to wear attractive dresses, someof which may expose their bodies badly. For example, in theentertainment industry, policies are enacted to ensure that womenwear tight and short dresses while there are no polices passed todictate what men working in such industries should wear (Arvanitidouand Gasouka 112).
Inthe school environment, dress codes have a significant impact on theinteractions between boys and girls, as well as the academicperformance of students. The dress codes imposed by schooladministrations prohibit women students from wearing short dresses.This is based on the argument that wearing such dresses distractsmale students (Arvanitidou and Gasouka 113). From my point of view, Isupport school policies that bar short dresses for girls. This isbecause wearing short dresses may contribute to deviant behaviors inschools such as rape. There is a high possibility that rape caseswill continue to skyrocket when female students continue to wearshort dresses.
Althoughdress codes have focused more on women and girl’s clothing thanthat of men, this notion has changed in the recent past. In themodern times, the society seems to be shifting focus on the impactsthat dress codes can have on either gender. Recent fashion trendsindicate that the dressing of men has sparked controversy, as aresult of which the society has started focusing on this dressing.This has been precipitated by the fact that past dress codes focusedon what women should wear. As a result, the acceptable clothing formen was not discussed, and this made men to deviate from the norms.With such deviation, the dress code debates had to change the focusand emphasize on what men wear.
Arvanitidou,Zoi and Gasouka, Maria. “Construction of Gender through Fashion andDressing.” MediterraneanJournal of Social Sciences 4.11(2013): 111-114. Print.
Crane,Diana. Fashionand Its Social Agendas: Class, Gender, and Identity in Clothing.Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012. Print.