Middle school’s policy isn’t a ban. And it doesn’t encourage rape culture.
This is what feminism has come to: fighting for the right to wear yoga pants and leggings to middle school—a yoga pants ban. This pressing civil rights issue made headlines when girls in Evanston, Ill., protested rules that they said banned the bum-hugging clothing for creating classroom distractions.
A feminist flash mob attacked Haven Middle School for shaming girls and promoting rape culture. Eliana Dockterman wrote in Time that the school’s argument “is not that distant from the arguments made by those who accuse rape victims of asking to be assaulted by dressing a certain way.”
Actually, it’s a universe away.
Rape is a physical attack and a crime. Pubescent boys noticing girls’ bottoms is neither. Still, two parents wrote to the school asserting, “We really hope that you will consider the impact of these policies and how they contribute to rape culture.” A feminist writer tweeted, “#RapeCultureIsWhen we tell 13-year-old girls they can’t wear leggings because it’s ‘distracting’ to the boys.”
Haven’s administrators say they never claimed that the form-fitting pants were distracting to boys, though they surely are. An Evanston parent reported that the principal told her the school was merely “trying to figure out a way to tamp down the sexualization of middle-school girls.” Isn’t that a goal feminists support?
Instead, they react as if the school mandated burqas for all girls. It turns out that there was no “ban.” It was actually a policy that leggings must be covered with a shirt that is “fingertip length.” Oh, the inhumanity.
Needless to say, the sisterhood was not sated. Feminist website Jezebel asked why “the solution is to make girls cover up instead of … teaching boys to not be gross sexist pigs?” This echoed Dockterman’s complaint that “we tell women to cover themselves … but we neglect to tell the boys to look at something else.”
Let’s remember, we are talking about 13-year-old boys. Adult women have transformed children into monsters merely for finding the contours of a girl’s body attractive. The only people being shamed here are the boys. Their crime is being human.
This isn’t the first time pants created controversy. In 2013, Kenilworth Junior High School in Petaluma, Calif., banned “too tight” pants. According to a local news report, a mother wore skinny jeans in solidarity with her daughter declaring, “Boys need to be taught to respect women no matter what they’re wearing.” But a boy noticing a girl in body-hugging pants is not disrespectful. Nor is it something he needs to — or can — unlearn.
The professional feminists look at middle school and see 13-year-old male oppressors dominating in the battle of the sexes. School administrators see what’s actually there: children. Haven Middle School appears to be trying to create the best possible learning environment during a critical transition period in kids’ lives. Good for them.
Kirsten Powers writes weekly for USA TODAY, where this post originally appeared.
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