Skirting the issue

In my post on language and misogyny I wrote that I’d constantly received jibes (from teachers) about not wearing skirts.  This was as a sixth-former, when we were allowed to wear what we liked.  Anna commented that this was restricted to school uniform now (although I was beyond uniform!) and noted the delightful example of the boy who wore a skirt to school.

But skirts are de rigueur for girls at posh schools, it seems.  Every day I see Bede’s girls in silly, mini-ish skirts – and they all have long hair too; I saw a Bede’s girl with short hair the other day and nearly crashed, such was my surprise.  There’s a photo of Magdalen sixth-formers in today’s Torygraph with all of the boys in trousers and the two girls in mini-skirts.  In this weather!  They also had distressingly impractical slip-on shoes and, of course, the regulation long hair.

I’m sure that they would argue that they like skirts and it really is their choice.  But I am not so sure.  It’s the prevailing fashion; a fashion set many years ago, that even 50 years of women’s lib have not shifted.  Skirts are still the Proper dress for women.  As a teenager, you’ve got to be sure of your sex and sexuality if you’re going to wear trousers – at least if you’re of the Country-Life-reading classes.

Why spend thousands on your daughter’s education if she is just going to conform unquestioningly to the social stereotype that puts women as physical/ sexual objects first and foremost?  Why pay to develop her brain if she is not going to challenge the brain-numbing of women?

Skirts are symbolic of the disempowerment of women.  It’s time that they were thrown out of school.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Skirting the issue

  1. Anna

    School uniform policy – and to further refine the point I made earlier, I think we are talking mostly if not entirely about fee-paying/public schools here – is doubtless subject to parent pressure, should they wish to exert it. What I’d like to know is why girls (any girls, we are certainly talking about an otherwise pretty privileged minority here) are required, at a particularly vulnerable age in their sexual development, such *short* skirts! Basically the same as they wore when they were seven. On 16-year-olds, they are both infantilising and overly revealing. (And of course there’s always the peer pressure/competition to see how many more (or fewer) inches one can get away with!) If you are not tall and willowy, they look awful. And so impractical for most of the British year. Then we wonder why girls wear so little on nights out. Because they’re used to it! Boys of the same age wear what is basically a suit to school. That’s another kind of stereotype, certainly, but why don’t girls wear the equivalent? Boys are put into the sort of clothes they might expect to wear to [a particular kind of] work for the rest of their working lives; girls wear much the same as children 10 years or more younger. Ties and short kilts are no part of adult women’s work wardrobes! I am going to ask the one uniform-skirt-wearing teenager I know what she thinks.

  2. I’d like to conduct a survey, just for fun, about why girls wear such skirts…

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