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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

Banning girls from wearing skirts to school

116 replies

Northernlurker · 22/05/2011 14:32


I just want to get my thoughts in order about this. Basically I have heard on the grapevine that dd1's school is wanting to ban girls from wearing skirts because they have found it impossible to ensure the skirts are of 'on the knee' length.

I am not happy about this because the arguement against short skirts is that it is 'inappropriate', it is seen in some way as a sexual and moral statement. I think this is sexist bollocks. You should not judge anybody's situation by their clothing. Dd1 has been told that her skirt is currently 'borderline'. I bought itin the Autumn term and she's grown since. I am horrified that her school seems to be saying she' 'borderline' between virtuous and slutty. It's a skirt, it covers her bottom, it's not a hazard and it's only unsafe if violent men choose to look only at the skirt, transfer their warped and vile standards to it and then act violently.

What does everyone else think?

OP posts:
QuickLookBusy · 22/05/2011 14:46

My DDs school did this 3 years ago. In September they are going to allow skirts again, but girls will only beable to buy from a specific shop.

I'm know I will probably be flamed but I do agree with a ban on short skirts. Some of the girls skirts at DDs school were so short they barely covered their arses, and I don't think it is appropriate to wear a skirt like that in school. My DDs school are strict in every other way, with boys and girls-boys must wear ties, top buttons must be done up, they must tuck shirts in, trainers aren't allowed, heels on shoes have to be a certain height etc etc. A boy would not be allowed to walk around with his underpants on show, a girl should not beable to walk around showing her knickers.

I do think it is totally ott to ban skirts altogether. If some are flouting the rules, it is those pupils who should be banned from wearing skirts, not every girl.

SecretNutellaFix · 22/05/2011 15:10

I agree with the school.

Girls always have pushed the boundaries with regards to skirt length and always will. I see quite a few inappropriate lengths as the local girls walk to school and seeing a girl in her early teens bend over from the waist whilst wearing said skirt and you can see the gusset on her knickers is revolting. It would be equally as repulsive is it was a grown woman.

If uniform is to be equal and standards applied fairly, then both sexes wear trousers.

BendyBob · 22/05/2011 15:16

Gosh I feel very old.

When I was at school the war of attrition was about girls wanting to wear trousers, and how it was frowned upon by the school to do so, and getting them to incorporate trousers into the uniform for girls.

Mind you in those days the fashion was for longer skirts anyway so I suppose that wasn't going to be an issue then.

ContraryMartha · 22/05/2011 15:27

I think from a practical point of view, shorts and trousers are ideal.
Running, acrobatics, hanging upside down, sitting on the floor...all easier.

I also think it may stop the skirt-rolling-up-brigade, of which I used to be a member, from doing it.
You never know...

DilysPrice · 22/05/2011 15:33

I'm all in favour of trousers at primary school, where they will be sitting cross legged on the floor and doing handstands in the playground. In secondary school I guess they're less likely to doing knicker-flashing activity, but actually there's all the more reason to be encouraging them to wear clothes which don't impose "modesty" restrictions on their physical activity.

I'd also like to see more schools imposing trainer-type shoes as uniform rather than those silly little slip-on pumps.

BendyBob · 22/05/2011 15:35

'I'd also like to see more schools imposing trainer-type shoes as uniform rather than those silly little slip-on pumps.' Amen to that.

Himalaya · 22/05/2011 15:58

Yup, when I was at school we all wanted to wear trousers, and it was finally allowed after much gnashing of teeth.

At my sisters school they all have to wear trousers, and I can see that it is easier than trying to police skirt length. I think the principle is that school uniform is meant to approximate something like business dress. So skirts that would be OK in a nightclub, or trousers hanging halfway down a boy's arse, as is the fashion, is not ok for school. It is inappropriate.

But when you get into regulating girl's skirt length it does get a bit fetishy in itself (does anyone remember having a rule in school that if you were kneeling down the hem of your skirt had to touch the floor, and having it checked ?? Shock) So trousers is just easier. But it is a shame for girls not to be allowed to wear skirts.

I think the underlying 'problem' of girls school uniform (assuming you accept the general idea of school uniform) is that the model as for so many things..) is what works for boys/men - so girls have to wear ties which look bloody stupid over growing boobs, and make you look like a 'school girl' whereas on boys it makes them look like young men. Similarly because boy's body shape doesn't change so much in puberty the same uniform style can be worn by an 11 year old and a 16 year old without looking awkward, but the same is not true of girls.

My DS's school makes girls wear pleated skirts which at knee length look quite smart on an 11-12 year old, but are the most unflattering thing on a 16 year old with hips etc.. You don't see many women walking around in knee length pleated skirts, so the temptation is to go for the super short naughty-school girl look so as not to look like a complete square. If they didn't insist on pleated skirts it would be easier to find a flattering skirt that looks business-like rather than school-girlish iykwim?

SardineQueen · 22/05/2011 16:49

*I absolutely agree with everything you say in your post OP.

But TBH I would be quite cheerful about boys and girls wearing similar uniforms ie trousers, but appropriate for their body shapes ie girls not being shoe-horned into boys clothes.

The idea behind skirts isn't too hot from a feminist perspective I don't think?

SardineQueen · 22/05/2011 16:50

Mind you thinking about it I remember threads on here where schools had vetoed various girls trousers as being too "revealing".

Bottom line is older girls have female shaped bodies, and that's going to (unfortunately, apparently) be fairly obvious whatever clothes you put them in.

So I guess the straightforward answer is to change society instead? Yep works for me Grin

hannahsaunt · 22/05/2011 19:52

Sledgehammers and nuts come to mind ...

Surely the way to manage the situation (and as others have said there are girls here in uniform who manage to have blazers that cover more of their bottom than their skirts) is to have a zero tolerance policy on skirts that are shorter than a reasonable length - I would expect to be able to choose to wear a skirt to my workplace but I would also expect it to be professional - and surely part of schooling is teaching children about dressing appropriately for the occasion. It doesn't necessarily mean banning skirts which are a bit above the knee but does mean not showing your knickers.

scarlettsmummy2 · 22/05/2011 19:58

I agree with the school. I know it is taking away the girls right to choose, but lets be honest who wants their daughter going to school showing their backside as so many of them do. Wether it is fair or not it does give off the wrong impression and i actually find it shocking that mothers let their teenage daughters go to school looking like hookers- i take the girl guides and many of them wear skin tight micro minis and bare legs to school.

scarlettsmummy2 · 22/05/2011 19:59

having said that i do think a knee length skirt should be allowed as opposed to a total ban

GrimmaTheNome · 22/05/2011 20:10

Why can't the school manage to ensure the skirts are long enough? Making girls wear trousers is a cop out. DDs school allows trousers or a skirt which should come no more than 4cm above the knee, with a strict 'no rolling up' policy. In truth some are a bit shorter, but not indecently so. The school seems to have a balance of discipline and commonsense.

School-type trousers look awful on some girls - they should have the option. It would be reasonable to have skirt-wearing as a privelige which could be withdrawn if abused.

GrimmaTheNome · 22/05/2011 20:11

Of course the other option would be skorts - longer than the PE type - which could still look ok on girls who don't suit trousers but which must be the least sexy garment ever invented.

Northernlurker · 22/05/2011 20:11

I suppose my point is why do we accept the length of a skirt to have such negative meaning. It's just a skirt. It says nothing about you except what we as a society have apparently agreed it means. That's what gets up my nose about this - dd1's school is full of bright, interesting, compassionate and vibrant young women. And yet the school is happy for those aspectsbe suppressed by saying that the length of their skirts is the over-riding factor?

OP posts:
hannahsaunt · 22/05/2011 20:58

I guess it's why they wear them that length - (the really short ones, that is) - they are doing it to be provocative; skirt length isn't expressing their intelligence or compassion, it's making a statement and inviting comment. Would we take the cream of British business women seriously if they dressed with skirts that skimmed their knickers when at work? Probably not ... And school is the equivalent of the workplace for these girls at this time in their life. They should be learning to express themselves professionally (but I don't mean sober colours and suits - all power to beautiful, creative, interesting dressing).

NB it is just the extreme end of shortness that I'm assuming needs addressed, which does seem fairly common in these parts.

Much harder to achieve with a kilt - maybe that's the answer Wink

hulababy · 22/05/2011 21:02

I would be against such a ban.

As an adult I dislike wearing trousers and I know my DD feels the same.

Schools should just state that skits must be within certain guidelines and enforce it, simple as that. Enforce and send home often enough and tey will get the message. Generally clamp down on uniform/dress code rules only have to go on for much less than month before pupils get the message ime.

Also, ime, skirts do not stop girls from joining in with fun, active activities.

Bumfuzzle · 22/05/2011 21:05

I think that skirts so short you can see the girl's pants if she bends over are simply not suitable for school - or at all on a child, but I am aware I am old fashioned. I also hate trousers that show your bum.

When I am out and about at school run times, my GOD! you should see the kids. Girls in skirts so short their blazers come further down their thighs and boys with their trousers showing at least half of their pants.

It's just not acceptable. imo.

meditrina · 22/05/2011 21:05

I used to live near one of the highest performing all girls schools in the country. All pelmets there.

sunshineandbooks · 22/05/2011 21:35

Skirts have a long history in relation to the subjugation of women. I'd like to see them banned in schools for that reason alone.

Many will claim that short skirts are about fashion not sex appeal, but fashion for women and girls is inextricably linked with sex appeal. Sadly, many young girls will not have realised this at such a young age and while they think they may be rebelling by having a short skirt, all they are doing is conforming to society's ongoing objectification of women.

I'm not sure I agree with uniform in principle anyway, but if you're going to have a uniform policy, you have a uniform policy. Isn't stipulating the length of a skirt no more than a part of that? Our local comp goes as far as determining the colour of socks and belts so that all individuality is ruthlessly stamped out. Ultimately, children are in school to learn and to take part in activities. Trousers are far more practical for that purpose.

HaughtyChuckle · 23/05/2011 00:26

I think its more about dignity and a 'smart image' some of the skirts will be very innapropriate wearing clothes that every bodily orifice hangs out of is disrespectful to the people around you and its an important lesson to teach people for dress when they start working etc , I've worked with people who have never learnt this and its not very good,

maybe they werent trying the 'looking slutty angle'

MillyR · 23/05/2011 00:43

The point about school uniform is that it is meant to be uniform. Ds has to have three stripes showing on his tie. I never have to enforce this - the school does. Both skirts and trousers can be selected in inappropriate non-uniform styles. The school should decide what style of skirt and girls' trousers are part of the uniform and then enforce that.

If the school is changing rules because it cannot enforce a skirt style, then there is a problem with discipline in that school.

SardineQueen · 23/05/2011 08:07

At secondary even if the school enforces the policy, the girls roll them up for their journey to and from school. Which, if the school does not want the uniform worn in that way, is something they can't control. So I can see that the school are in a bit of a bind about this.

I also agree that schoolgirls often (usually?) roll their skirts up because it is the fashion, they do it to fit in with their friends. That's why I did it. If anyone had suggested to me that I did it to look "sexy" to all and sundry, I would have been horrified.

nooka · 23/05/2011 08:22

I think that uniforms are an utter waste of time and just lend themselves to power battles between teachers and children. One of the very early lessons I was given about being a parent was to pick your battles - i.e. fight for the things that matter. what a child wears to school really really doesn't matter. What they learn does.

NB I now live somewhere where uniforms are thought of as being very odd, and I've yet to see any very very short or rolled up skirts amongst the teenage girls here. I think this is because the children don't tend to feel the need to push the boundaries or have that need to try and find some individuality in their uniforms.

Personally I've never understood the preparation for work idea, as I've never met anyone in a professional job wearing anything vaguely approximating school uniform.

SardineQueen · 23/05/2011 08:24

Good post Nooka.

It also occurs to me that as school uniform on girls is so fetishished in our society, maybe it would be better all round if it were got rid of.

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