We felt something like relief when we saw that Soraya Chemaly had done the work of connecting the dots between the headlines about Harvey Weinstein and the enforcement of school dress codes. Chemaly has written about dress codes many times before, too: check out “How Schools Skirt Around Sexism and Homophobia,” “The Funny-Not-Funny Video You Have To See,” and “Every Reason Your School’s Gendered Dress Code Is Probably A Sexist Mess.”
Dress code enforcement easily reproduces exactly the types of behaviors that adults are seeking to prevent. They involve a pattern of silence, shame and obedience in situations where someone bigger and more powerful tells a girl what to do with her body. These are lessons in the dynamics of power, control and silence in abusive situations. They are also lessons in male sexual entitlement. That bigger and more powerful person might be an athlete, an employer, a trusted coach or religious leader, people who know they are more likely to enjoy the benefit of the doubt.