Local Principal Reminds Girls That Boner-Causing Bra Straps Are Their Fault

Kingsley Junior High parents were recently reminded by principal Shelly Erickson that with the onset of warm spring weather, “students” have been coming to school “inappropriately dressed.” This is according to an audio message¬†recorded by Erickson on behalf of McLean County Unit School District 5 and delivered April 26th. Her message goes onto define acceptable clothing as that which does not reveal students’ “bare shoulders,” “bra straps,” or “midriffs.” She adds that “shirts that show excessive cleavage are also not appropriate for school.” Students deemed to be in violation of the dress code “will be given the choice to wear P.E. clothes or to call home.”

To start off, we all know that tank tops, crop tops, and shirts with plunging necklines are not marketed to the male gender. By “students,” the school means female students. This part of the dress code (found here) is actively punishing girls.

The dress code defines inappropriate clothing as “apparel that causes a substantial disruption in the school environment.” It’s difficult to imagine bra straps causing a substantial disruption, which means just one thing: female students at Kingsley are being held responsible–as they are in so many other school districts across the United States–for male students’ sexual arousal. The argument goes that sexually aroused male students will not be able to focus on their schoolwork, hence “disruption” to their learning.

There is a parallel here with victim blaming survivors of sexual assault. Survivors–most often women–are blamed for bringing assaults upon themselves because of their clothing choices and sexual history. Women are held accountable for the behavior of their assailant(s) because it is still widely believed that men do not have the ability to control themselves. Similarly, in this case male students’ hypothetical failure to concentrate on their schoolwork is not seen as their fault. The blame is instead goes to the female students.

You may be preparing to argue that female students should know better than to come to school wearing clothing that violates the dress code. Well, your preemptive argument is fucking wrong. First off, it assumes that more “modest” clothing is available to female adolescents and teenagers, but skim through a rack of spaghetti-strap shirts and short-shorts at your local Target and you might find that it isn’t all that easy. Your argument also assumes that female students are financially able to alter their wardrobe on short notice. Not every female student or her family can afford new clothing, however. Furthermore, the dress code punishes large-breasted students. Shirts do not fit large-breasted women like they do small-breasted women, and it can be nearly impossible to conceal cleavage. You’re also potentially minimizing female students’ comfort. On a hot spring or summer day, female students cannot find shorts down to their knees like male students can. Above all else, female students’ fashion choices are not the business of staff or male students. Again, we’re not discussing a see-thru shirt that exposes a female student’s nipples, we’re talking about bra straps and bare shoulders.

In the end, what is more disruptive to learning? Male students interacting with female peers dressed in seasonally appropriate, modern clothing? Or female students being forced to endure the embarrassment of wearing smelly gym clothing or calling home for a set of clothing to be brought to them?

If you’re as pissed off as we are about this issue, if you do not want your daughter to be held to responsible for the sexual thoughts of her male peers, make a complaint. Shelly Erickson can be contacted via email (erickssj@unit5.org) or phone (309 557-4407).

8 Replies to “Local Principal Reminds Girls That Boner-Causing Bra Straps Are Their Fault”

  1. It is a schools job to prepare students for future school and work situations. Dressing appropriately for your environment is part of that. Weather it is a factory job or an office job there are dress codes both written and unwritten that must be followed.

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    1. Yeah, when they are ADULTS and have certain careers they may have to abide by a certain dress code. The problem here is that these are JR HIGH STUDENTS. They should be focusing on studying hard at school, and they should be wearing what they are comfortable wearing in order to allow them to do that.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. It is also important that intelligent adults trying to prove a point know how to use “whether” and “weather” appropriately in a sentence if they want to be taken seriously. Perhaps if you worried about your own education and were then able to apply it to your child’s, maybe one more person would know that the word “weather” refers to the state of the atmosphere, to the degree that it is hot or cold, wet or dry, calm or stormy, clear or cloudy. Stop slut-shaming children.

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  2. Yes. School is a place to prepare for the real world. For male students as well as female students. Male students need to learn how to react to all people outside their personal sphere, no matter how attracted they are to them. For instance, chasing your secretary around your desk is no longer acceptable. Harassing the woman next to you on the factory line is no longer acceptable. Guess what — that woman being harassed in the factory — she’s in overalls — so attractive and sexy — I think the problem is men and their entitlements, not our clothes!!!!! Don’t blame females for male problems.

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  3. If school is supposed to prepare us for the work place and adulthood and the first tell me why so many students who graduate high school have no idea how our government works, how to pay taxes, where the taxes go to, how to file for FASFA, how to build and structure a resume, what is business casual dress and what isn’t? There are SOOOO many more important things to worry about teach our children than to be cautious of showing your “oh so scandalous” shoulders so the boys can focus and worry about their school work.

    My hope is in the future the next generations or generations to come won’t have to worry about short shorts preventing them from going to class. My hope is that in the future women won’t have to worry if her breasts are too big and showing too much and if they are and she is she’ll be labeled a slut or gossiped about how she slept her way to the top. My hope is a future that actuallly gives men more diversity instead of a one lined script that says you are a strong, in control, overly sexual man who needs to sexualize the women around you because they always want it.

    If your argument is really talk about how this will prepare them for the future, your future and my future are two very different things

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  4. The funny thing is, back in the good old days, the 60s, when I was in junior high, we were fine wearing short shorts to school and nobody cared. They were called hot pants. Know what we weren’t allowed to wear to school? Pants. Like, the long kind. Girls could wear skirts as short as they wanted (and trust me, they were short — they had to teach us how to get a drink from the water fountain without showing off our butts) but not pants. Clearly this had nothing to do with turning anybody on and everything to do with gender definitions. That a principal in 2017 would be on that kind of gender-stereotype power kick is disgusting.

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