These students are wearing scarlet letters to protest unfair dress code policies
Say hello to the most literary (and awesome) dress code protest yet. And in the past year alone, we’ve seen a lot of them. So much so, it’s hard to believe schools haven’t listened up and stopped giving reason for these (usually very well-founded) protests to happen. The latest upset comes out of Charleston County School of the Arts in South Carolina. Reese Fischer, a junior at the school, is one of many students who organized a protest straight out of a novel —literally. The students (and some teachers!) have marked themselves with scarlet letter “A”s, a nod to Nathanial Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter.
This stands for many things. Some say it comes out of the slogan “Not A Distraction,” but in general, the scarlet A is a symbol of being unfairly targeted. In this case, as in most, it’s the female students who are bearing the brunt of the rules being enforced. Fischer says she isn’t actually against the rules themselves, just how they’re being executed:
She’s referencing a time when a teacher once told her, “You might as well be wearing underwear. I can’t believe you walked out the door like that.”
The male students seem to immune to this kind of scrutiny. “Especially in the summer, you see guys walking around in muscle tank tops with half their sides hanging out and their pants hanging down,” Fischer explains. “And they don’t get called out for that. They don’t get called out for wearing a hat, but a girl will get called out for a short skirt in a second.”
Specifically, the dress code prohibits hats, underwear that can be seen, bare skin “between upper chest and mid thigh,” shoulder straps less than two fingers wide, and clothing with inflammatory or profane graphics or text. It’s just not enforced universally.
“In my opinion, there should be a dress code that is gender-neutral and applies to everyone and is enforced equally,” suggested a parent. That’s not a bad idea, since most of the issue is the rules that apply to women are strictly enforced and the rules that apply to men are treated as guidelines.
Hopefully, this kind of peaceful and intellectual protest will bring about change. “I’m pretty sure the administration thinks it’s just going to fizzle out in a week,” says sophomore Caroline Hamrick. “But we’re trying to keep that from happening.”
So are we, Caroline. So are we.
(Image via Screen Gems.)