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.

ChubbyKitty Mon 01-Jul-13 18:00:04

Personally I think you're 100% correct. Small clothing is not the problem, boys and their wandering hands are. If it were clothes that were to blame then ALL men and boys would be touching us up. As it happens a large portion of them don't, therefore it must be down to the boy rather than what the girls are wearing.

If this doesn't wash then I'm stuck. But I do completely agree with you. smile

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Mon 01-Jul-13 18:06:19

Of course you're right!

As far as arguments go - what sort of clothing do adults at work wear? And what workplace discrimination laws are there? Eg., I'm sure men aren't entitled to touch up women if they're dressed a certain way! angry

I'd say that school is preparing them to be adults so they should be learning to act in an adult way.

ReallyTired Mon 01-Jul-13 18:11:28

I think that the issue is that boys are allowed to wear shorts rather than the fact that the girls are banned from wearing shorts. Although prehaps I am influenced by English culture where its unheard of for children to wear shorts to school once they are over eight!

"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 there is going to be a strict dress code (by French standards) then it needs to be applied to all children. Prehaps the french definition of what is reasonable to wear to school is different to the English. It would be interesting to know what the parents think.

VikingVagine Mon 01-Jul-13 18:16:18

The parents generally don't seem to care what their kids wear, the do get mightily annoyed when they have to bring a complete change of clothes in because the original outfit was deemed inappropriate.

The staff can wear what they like, my headmaster said that my skirts are too short but I have told him I would wear what I bloody well liked and at he should be paying more attention to the contents of the teachers' lessons than their appearance. He hasn't said anything since and I've been promoted.

PromQueenWithin Mon 01-Jul-13 19:30:53

Difficult to answer without knowing more about the sexual harassment / equality laws in France.

In UK I'd suggest that one rule for all fitted with equality laws and the aims of most public sector organisations I know. But not sure whether this holds sway in France.

I agree with your stance, btw

scallopsrgreat Mon 01-Jul-13 20:12:55

I'd point out that they don't seem to be worried about the girls feeling the boys up because they wear shorts so why shouldn't the girls be afforded the same courtesy by the boys?

Boys are capable of behaving properly. They also should be disciplined for sexually assaulting girls. It is illegal behaviour.

Does the school want to be seen to be victim blaming? Because blaming the boy's behaviour on what the girls wear is victim blaming.

Do they want to give out the message that girls are the gatekeepers of boy's behaviour and that boy's bad behaviour is excusable? In other words are girls worth less than boys?

Because those are the messages they are giving here.

bigTillyMint Mon 01-Jul-13 20:14:52

The girls in most of the schools round here wear short skirts (some shorter than others) and I'm pretty sure the boys don't touch them up.

I would be incandescent if DS was touching any girls up.

Melpomene Mon 01-Jul-13 20:37:55

I thought Bermuda shorts were quite long and baggy?

If you mean that the boys are allowed to wear short/tight shorts, then the girls should be allowed to wear them too. Alternatively have a code of more modest dress for everyone.

AmandaPandtheTantrumofDoom Mon 01-Jul-13 20:54:00

I agree that the comments made by the head were appallingly victim blaming.

On the other hand, I don't see anything wrong with requiring fairly modest dress in all pupils. There are settings where revealing clothing is not socially appropriate - and I'd put workplaces and schools into that category.

The rules should be gender neutral though. If boys wear bermuda shorts then girls should be permitted to wear skirts and shorts of a similar length.

WoTmania Mon 01-Jul-13 22:34:38

I lived in France as a child (last few years of primary school) and depsite wearing t-shirt/shorts or jeans/jumper type clothing I used to get grabbed/touched up etc and the problem was most definitely the boys' attitudes rather than what I was wearing.

I absolutely agree that it's the boys who need to be dealt with and the clothing rules need to be applied fairly across both sexes.

SconeRhymesWithGone Mon 01-Jul-13 22:43:56

I had the same question regarding shorts. To me Bermuda shorts are close to knee length and "short shorts" are really short. I live in Florida where many high school students are allowed to wear shorts, but the rules are the same for all (Bermuda-ish styles). Equality is the key issue, I think.

And this of course: Because blaming the boy's behaviour on what the girls wear is victim blaming.

MyHumpsMyLovelyBabyBumps Tue 02-Jul-13 01:10:57

scone whereabouts in florida?


SconeRhymesWithGone Tue 02-Jul-13 01:22:46

MyHumps, the northern part.

VikingVagine Tue 02-Jul-13 06:31:09

Yes yes Bermuda shorts are long and flowery, they are forbidden because considered beach wear (the kids are at school, not at the beach and we've found that their attitude is quite different depending on their clothes!). What I was so shocked at was the comment about the reason why girls can't wear short skirts. I think we need to focus on the no beach attire rule and not say anything about boys teachers being tempted. There are some beautiful short summer dresses and skirts out there which aren't beachy at all, if boys are allowed to wear smart shorts, then girls should be allowed to wear smart short skirts.

By the way lots of boys and men here wear shorts cause it gets very hot from about May to September!

SavoyCabbage Tue 02-Jul-13 07:18:18

At our primary school, in Australia, the girls HAVE to wear shorts under their dresses in case the boys see their knickers. I don't like it as knickers are already to protect your modesty.

How far will it go? Bloomers to stop people seeing your shorts?

The next school along, has banned dresses altogether.

curryeater Tue 02-Jul-13 10:03:01

I think you need to separate several issues:

1 - make sure that the code, whatever it is, is equal and is objectively expressed. I have come across this problem at work - in summer, managing young barely dressed women, I would have liked a code to point to that said "no bare shoulders" or something, cross-gender, instead of the STUPID DEMEANING AND POINTLESS email sent by a male member of staff to the whole company saying that women should not dress "temptingly" angry. So if long, knee-length wide shorts are allowed in sober prints or solid colours, then define this very clearly and do not leave open questions as to what is "appropriate" or "tempting" or "beach wear" (you can wear anything on a beach if you want). And try to make it apply across the sexes. It may be that girls are more given than boys to wear backless tops, but you can just forbid backless tops for everyone. If you allow knee length skirts, be prepared for boys to wear them though! (I see nothing wrong with this)
Offer to write it yourself and present it for comments / approval

2 - enforce the code objectively and equally. If it is written properly there is no need to turn a blind eye to this rather than that, or waffle about the "spirit as opposed to the letter of the law". Write the damn thing properly so the letter stands up - and then enforce it.

3 - address sexual harrassment as a separate issue

PromQueenWithin Tue 02-Jul-13 10:57:34

I agree with curryeater's suggestions.

Startail Tue 02-Jul-13 11:03:15

All discussions of school uniform seem to end up back with girls trousers being too tight or their skirts being too short.

Personally I think the male teacher who told DD off for the length of her skirt should be teaching not looking at a 15y legs.

(DDs skirt is shorter than the rules, 100% of the girls skirts are, but not that short)

UptoapointLordCopper Tue 02-Jul-13 14:07:15

Personally I think the male teacher who told DD off for the length of her skirt should be teaching not looking at a 15y legs. Yes. I've noticed people's eyes wandering. I wear short skirts when I feel like it and can certainly notice that.

Has anyone read Persepolis? There's a strip(? What's a couple of frames of comic?) where the religious police caught up with Marjane when she was running for the bus. They said she shouldn't wiggle her bum so, and she told them they should not be eyeing her arse. The principle applies, I think. smile

MyHumpsMyLovelyBabyBumps Tue 02-Jul-13 15:11:17

oh thinking about it i may have asked you before. sad

(southern ish part here)

MyHumpsMyLovelyBabyBumps Tue 02-Jul-13 15:21:04

its a proven fact girls do better at school when clothed, so i would insist on a good length of clorhes for all students for their own benefit regardless of sex.

Not for the benefit of "boys who can't help themselves". I don't think most teenagers are prepared to choose common sense clothing over fashion so the decision should be taken out of their hands for school.

those boys are sleeze bags and will be so regardless of girls clothing. those kinds of comments just take the blame off the person it belongs to

PromQueenWithin Tue 02-Jul-13 15:24:23

They will be warmer when clothed, to be sure grin

MyHumpsMyLovelyBabyBumps Tue 02-Jul-13 15:36:13

you laugh, but i lived in essex in the winter! grin

MyHumpsMyLovelyBabyBumps Tue 02-Jul-13 15:37:04

chicken skin doesn't even look good on chickens

MyHumpsMyLovelyBabyBumps Tue 02-Jul-13 15:44:11

i also plan to go around dropping bricks in to the backs of boys trouser that are worn anywhere below the hips

UptoapointLordCopper Tue 02-Jul-13 18:35:58

its a proven fact girls do better at school when clothed shock Did they try naked schooling!? grin

AmandaPandtheTantrumofDoom Tue 02-Jul-13 18:44:54

There's that 'sitting a test in a swimming costume' experiment isn't there?

Oh, you probably know about that one. Sorry, I am very tired and slow on the joke/serious uptake today.

Phineyj Tue 02-Jul-13 19:08:03

In our school dress code it says that skirts may not be shorter than a certain number of inches above the knee (I think it's 6).

One person's idea of a 'short' skirt is another person's idea of something perfectly reasonable so it would be better to have some kind of objective guidance and I agree that things like not wearing see-through/backless clothing are better expressed so that they could in theory apply to both sexes. The shoe thing can be expressed in terms of safety, as flip flops, open toed sandals etc are dangerous in an environment where you're doing practical lessons.

I am always astonished by how casual the clothes are that French students wear to school (only based on meeting exchange students & seeing students hanging round smoking/chatting outside schools when on holiday in France) -- it must be a big wrench when they go to work, or are workplaces very casual too?

VikingVagine Tue 02-Jul-13 20:54:58

Depends on the work place I suppose, but compared to the UK it's very very relaxed in most workplaces.

Our CPE seems to think that knee length is acceptable and anything shorter is asking for it hmm . She made a remark along the lines of some of the clothes girls wear around in town makes rapes unsurprising shock shock shock

Phineyj Tue 02-Jul-13 21:35:53

I think you have more problems than dress code then grin

MyHumpsMyLovelyBabyBumps Tue 02-Jul-13 22:10:23

that's what i was reffering to amanda, realize i could have worded it better now grin

that and just my own experience of girls at school being painfully self consious in their clothes. tugging up hipster jeans which had artfully displayed their pants or pulling their shirts down. they want to fit in so they have to dress a certain way and the end result is them focusing on everything but school.

speaking of naked though, does anyone know if rape statistics have been taken at nudist colonies vs general western socity vs conservative women totally covered societies.

Svina Wed 03-Jul-13 23:31:35

Hi everyone

viking vagine I can imagine it is going to be difficult for you to achieve a good outcome with the victim blaming attitudes which seem prevalent in your work place. Good luck, and well done for trying.

On a slight tangent, I work with young people in a centre where there is no dress code. Young women are trying out different styles, and often wear clothes which are too small, and show a lot of cleavage.

I am a heterosexual mother of 2 in her 30's with no sexual interest in any of the young people I work with. I find their cleavage distracting.

I find it interesting that there are comments onhere, and quoting marjane satrapi, of whom I am a fan, about well you shouldn't be looking. But I say again, cleavage is distracting. I do not look at it, but it nevertheless disturbs me. I am finding this hard to share, in case anyone thinks I must be a perv. I am certain I am not perv. I am starting to think that modesty is importent, not because it's the girl's fault if people are looking at her body, but that in the clothed society we live in, anybody perv or otherwise, can find revealing clothing distracting, which is not helpful in a working or learning environment.

UptoapointLordCopper Thu 04-Jul-13 08:37:03

Is the onus upon the girls and women to cover up?

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.

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.

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!

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.

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!'

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?

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.

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.

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 11:35:50

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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!

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.

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.


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.

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.

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>

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?

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