School clothing (France)

(59 Posts)
VikingVagine Mon 01-Jul-13 17:55:15

Hello, first time posting in this topic, but I thought it was the most appropriate place to put it.

I'm a teacher in France, in a couple of days we will be discussing what our pupils will be allowed / not allowed to wear at school next year.

By French standards we're pretty strict (the vast majority of schools don't have any dress code at all), we expect all pupils to wear reasonable items (no short shorts/skirts, no tank tops, no flip flops or other beach attire, no underwear visible and no low tops).

I've noticed over the year that these rules are applied more to girls than boys, I've seen boys with Bermuda shorts and no one has batted an eyelid, but girls are intercepted at the gate on a daily basis because their skirts are too short or their tops too low.

I was discussing it casually with the person (CPE) who is in charge of this enforcement and I said that i felt the girls should be allowed to wear short shorts or skirts if they wanted (they're 11 to 14 yo by the way). Her reply was that if the girls wore sexy clothes then they'd get touched up by the boys shock . I tried saying that in that case the problem wasn't with the girls' clothes but with the boys attitudes, but I was generally fobbed off by the other members of staff who agreed with the CPE.

Am I right? If so I need good solid arguments for the upcoming meetings as to why the girls should be allowed to wear what the fig they like within reason for a school.

If not, I need arguments to ensure the equal treatment of both sexes in our school.

BadSkiingMum Fri 05-Jul-13 07:20:51

I disagree with some of the comments from the CPE.

But then again, I don't see why both genders don't just follow the rules. Sticking to knee length for both shorts and skirts should be fine - if shorts could be added to the acceptable list.

Or, is it an issue with what is sold in the shops?

VikingVagine Fri 05-Jul-13 07:07:40

Umm I think making such a sweeping generalisation is a bit hash! Not all French boys are horrible! <looks at French DH and DS>

duchesse Fri 05-Jul-13 01:14:54

It was worse from collège level WOT. I escaped a lot by being pretty flat-chested but there was still a lot of bum-pinching even from 11 onwards.

WoTmania Thu 04-Jul-13 23:32:44

Duchesse - I only lived in France for a few years as a primary school child but that was enough! Doesn't sound as if it has changed much.

shock

duchesse Thu 04-Jul-13 21:42:12

Agree that French boys are horrid. It doesn't matter what the girls wear- there is something much larger at play in French society, that permits boys and men to behave like this and the onus on girls women to prevent it. Feminism has made very little headway in France, and as far as I can tell from my frequent visits back and my family still living there, very little progress indeed has happened in women's rights since I stopped living there full time 28 years ago. I resolved when I was 17 never to marry a Frenchman for this very reason. It makes me so angry I feel like exploding when I see the crap that my sister speaks and views as normal, and what friends have to put up with in their marriage, at work and going about normal life. Many French women feel under-appreciated if they don't get felt up or have suggestive and inappropriate comments directed at them. Talk about Stockholm syndrome. A friend was recently telling me how her headteacher suggested she could get a pay rise. I was shock.

I feel blessed to live back in the UK sometimes, if only for this one reason.

Bonsoir Thu 04-Jul-13 17:40:08

I do think that if a school has a dress code, it must be (a) clearly communicated (b) easy to enforce (c) enforced.

VikingVagine Thu 04-Jul-13 16:37:14

When I say Bermuda shorts, I am indeed referring to the flowery things you really would only wear to the beach/river round here.

CPE isn't my boss, I have no idea what the equivalent is in the UK, sorry. Incidentally she's the one who is at the gate in the morning checking pupils' clothing.

I'm torn about it really, I hated wearing uniform as a kid, and it still troubles me today! Then again I agree with the idea that the kids are in school, so need to wear school appropriate clothing. We all seem to have different standards of what we consider appropriate though!

wem -- I don't approve of the victim-blaming aspects of the culture, no. Young women should not be told to cover up or it's their fault they get groped, it's ridiculous, and I do hope eventually things will get a bit more enlightened here.

At the same time, it's kind of nice living somewhere where young girls are not usually dressed in an oversexualised manner. It's a bit of a fine line issue, for me.

Bonsoir Thu 04-Jul-13 12:09:23

I might want it to change but I also might recognise that a one-woman campaign led by a non-voting foreigner is unlikely to endear me to my colleagues or enhance my career prospects smile

bigTillyMint Thu 04-Jul-13 12:07:31

There's quite a difference between smart chino-style Bermuda's and the flowery kind that boys/men wear for beach/swimmingwink

wem Thu 04-Jul-13 12:04:23

I guess I assumed VikingVagine would know what the dress code at her school officially covered.

There is still a major problem with the person in charge of enforcement saying the girls will get touched up if they wear sexy clothes. Is that acceptable to you? I know you say it's the culture, but you don't seem to want it to change.

Bonsoir Thu 04-Jul-13 12:02:33

In Paris people generally dress with more modesty than in London - it's a French thing. And, especially, DC are generally dressed in quite traditional clothing - hence Bermuda shorts for boys and elastic-waisted sticky out knee skirts for girls, both items that are rarely seen in England.

moreyear Thu 04-Jul-13 11:56:08

I'm not sure I follow your reasoning. Are boys allowed to wear short shorts? Can girls wear shorts/skirts that are bermuda short length or are they not allowed to wear shorts at all?

Your CPE made a ridiculous statement but I do not see how it logically follows that if boys are allowed to wear shorts then girls should be allowed to wear short skirts - ie shorter than bermuda short length.

If a boy rocked up in a pair of thigh grazing hot pants would that be allowed? If it would be then obviously you have every right to be hmm but if this wouldn't be acceptable then I don't see your objection is logical. (Beyond the clear inappropriateness of the CPE's comment).

I agree with Bonsoir in that I don't see how boys wearing bermuda shorts should translate into girls wearing short skirts. It sounds like the problem really is more the enforcement of the rules, so perhaps focus on that?

obviously your boss' comments are also very problematic but hopefully they won't be conveyed to the students -- ?

I have to say that where I live, in western France, people do dress very modestly (compared to London anyway). It's rare to see any display of cleavage, or short skirts without tights. Clothes may be tight but they are not revealing. So I would see school rules like yours as a sort of extension of that social preference.

Bonsoir Thu 04-Jul-13 11:35:50

I didn't read that the dress code said no Bermuda shorts. It read that it said no beachwear. As I said, Bermuda shorts are über traditional city wear in France.

wem Thu 04-Jul-13 11:30:07

The OP says the school is strict by French standards. The dress code says no Bermuda shorts, no short skirts. The boys get away with flouting it, the girls don't.

We are still fighting attitudes in the UK that if girls/women wear revealing clothing they should expect sexual assault/rape. Is it really not worth fighting those attitudes in France too?

Bonsoir Thu 04-Jul-13 11:13:12

Bermuda shorts are not beachwear in France. My (very bourgeois) FOL wears bermuda shorts all summer long, in Paris, as do all men of his generation, to go out and about to restaurants, friends' homes etc.

Attitudes to sex are so very different here that you cannot hope to challenge them with English cultural preconceptions and be understood.

BikeRunSki Thu 04-Jul-13 10:52:53

I went to the Lycee in London until I was 11. My mother was relived when I went to the local state secondary and had uniform. Dealing with how much we rolled up our skirts was much easier than the previously ambiguous and inconsistent dress code at the Lycee.

In your situation OP, I' d say that there needs to be a change in the boys' attitude, a review of the dress code and consistency in policing it. Not sure the attitudes will change though - my sister is in France a.d trying to sue her former boss for constructive dismissal through sexual harrasment. Her solicitor says she has no case even though it seems obvious to every one else in the UK that she does.

wem Thu 04-Jul-13 10:36:36

Bonsoir - I don't think the OP is saying Bermuda shrts are equivalent to short skirts, more that the girls are policed closely about the dress code (no short skirts) but boys are not (getting away with wearing beachwear).

Do you think the cultural attitude that girls shouldn't wear short skirts because the boys will touch them up should be allowed to stand unchallenged?

Lancelottie Thu 04-Jul-13 09:58:03

Svina, I'd find very tight clothing on boy or girl (or man or woman) distracting. It's that nervous feeling of 'Oh god, I'm looking at their cleavage/bum/crotch -- look away!'

Bonsoir Thu 04-Jul-13 09:54:46

I think that you are coming at this from an English cultural perspective. Bermuda shorts are traditional "old man's clothing" in France and not in any shape or form the equivalent of a girl wearing shorts or a short skirt. And you aren't going to change French attitudes to sex into English ones in a hurry thank goodness.

burberryqueen Thu 04-Jul-13 09:51:25

my question would be - who is it who stands at the gate and decides if the girls' tops are too low or their skirts too short - a male teacher? I bet the old perves are fighting over that job in the staffroom!

BarbarianMum Thu 04-Jul-13 09:44:50

I have no problem with the idea of some rules governing how much flesh should be exposed (because I also don't want to see the crack in anyone's arse, their underwear or their genitals) but do think rules should be equitably applied. So either knee length shorts are OK, or they're not. Strap tops/ vests either Ok or not. Skintight clothing OK or not. But the rules should apply regardless of gender.

CoteDAzur Thu 04-Jul-13 08:41:38

In DD's primary school (South of France) girls go to school with dresses/skirts (no shorts underneath) and bermuda shorts all the time.

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