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Toward Fairer School Dress Codes

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Toward Fairer School Dress Codes

School Dress Codes: What do you think?

Lots of people are getting mad about school dress codes, especially the ones that seem primarily aimed at female students. From kindergartners being humiliated for wearing sundresses, to high school honor students being sent home for wearing long baggy shirts over leggings, there’s been a steady and increasing practice of singling out women for what they wear and how they look.

Schools say they’re just trying to maintain a “distraction-free” learning environment. They want students to be dressed “appropriately” as is befitting a serious education institution.

Ahhh…distraction free and appropriate. Well, that makes it all okay, then! We certainly don’t want to be inappropriate or distract anyone from learning. And bare shoulders on a five year old could certainly be distracting–not sure for whom, or if those people should be allowed to work with children, but you know, we’ll just go with it.

However, the current school dress codes only address the problem of straight male students and teachers being distracted by female students. I mean, yes, of course lesbians could also be distracted, but apparently no school believes they have lesbian students to worry about.

What about the straight women and gay men, or bi- and pan-sexual students and faculty? We deserve to be protected from distractions and being driven to lust by the male form as well.

So in an effort to help make school dress codes more fair for everyone, here are my suggestions for how we can keep young men from distracting others in the classroom:

School Dress Codes for Boys:

  • Shirts that reveal or emphasize muscle definition are not appropriate for a classroom learning environment and could distract female students and teachers. Shirts that are deemed too revealing, especially across the shoulders or pectorals must be covered by a sweatshirt or jacket. Students without a sweatshirt or jacket will either be sent home or be provided with an orange plastic rain poncho to wear for the remainder of the school day.
  • All shirts must have sleeves that extend to no more than two finger-widths above the elbow and must not cling to or reveal the bicep muscles. “Muscle” shirts are strictly forbidden. School administrators will pin pink sleeve extensions to any male shirt deemed too short.
  • Button-down shirts must be buttoned all the way to the top collar button. Leaving the top button open to reveal the throat and any part of the clavicle is unacceptable.
  • Trousers and jeans must not cling to the curve of the buttocks. All pants must be of sufficient looseness so that the shape and size of the buttocks is not discernible as the student walks. Tie-on ruffled bustles in school colors will be provided to any male whose pants are deemed too tight across the posterior.
  • Trousers, jeans, and pants must not show or emphasize bulges in the groin area. Students with visible groin bulges will be sent home to change or required to wear a loose fitting floral skirt provided by the school.
  • Hair must not be thick or wavy. Male students with such hair shall be required to keep it cut to 1/4″ or shorter so as to avoid distracting other students.
  • Eyelashes must not extend more than 7 mm in length. Eyelashes longer than 7 mm must be trimmed to an appropriate length or covered by sunglasses.
  • Sunglasses must not be worn inside the school. Not only is this for safety reasons, but also to prevent others from being distracted.
  • Facial hair must be worn as a full beard with mustache or as handlebar mustache with long chin puff. Clean-shaven, stubble, chin-straps, and other well-maintained facial hair styles are inappropriate as they may distract students and detract from the learning environment.
  • Male students with long fingers will be required to wear mittens at all times so as to avoid distracting other students with speculation of how finger length corresponds to groin bulge length.

Implementing these sensible school dress codes will teach young men to have self-respect as well as contributing to a serious school environment focused on learning and promoting professional behavior.

Scroll through some visual examples here:

man in t-shirt
How dare this man flaunt his fine pecs and shoulders like this? Plus, those sleeves are definitely too short. He should be looking down–in shame. 😉
Hint of throat and too fitted across the chest. Button up and buy a bigger size, sir! Plus, see above about that neatly-kept facial hair. Tsk, tsk.
Bulge alert! Give this guy a floral skirt, please–for the good of the children! (And the drill he’s holding isn’t Freudian at all…nope…)
Stick a bustle on this butt, STAT!
Terrible shame to make him cut such gorgeous curls, but we must NOT subject students to this kind of visual distraction in the classroom. So…snip-snip!
Indecently long lashes! Have some self-respect, dude! Think of what you’re doing to your fellow students, parading those things around in public! Geez… *fans self*
Couple issues here–first the shades. Second, the slight scruff. Way too cool for school, buddy.
So remember, guys, when you’re deciding what to wear to school…um…I forgot what I was saying…too distracted…

Let’s hear it for fair school dress codes for all!

 

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Hot Boys in YA Fiction: Just Fun or Unfair?

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Hot Boys in YA Fiction: Just Fun or Unfair?

YA Fiction: All the Boys are HOT

In the Guardian today is this interesting article: Is teen romantic fiction bad for boys? | Childrens books | theguardian.com

Boy with glassesThe gorgeous guys of young adult romantic fiction do a disservice to real life teen boys, with their acne and braces, says blogger Millie Woodrow-Hill

I have to admit–I can see the author’s point. YA fiction is full of hot boys, bad boys, impossibly-mature-for-their-age boys. Girls love it (and what’s not to love?), but it does send the message to boys that hotness is to be found in one’s muscles, dreamy eyes, low voice, beautiful face, and rebel devil-may-care attitude. Is this unfair or damaging to boys who don’t fit the criteria?

Boy with red hairMaybe. And maybe it’s damaging to girls, too, who could possibly overlook wonderful, but not hot boys who haven’t filled out yet, or who have bad skin and high voices.

On the other hand, Ms. Woodrow-Hill should remember that every time we are in the point of view of a book character, that person is an “unreliable narrator.” We only see the story from their perspective–and so we are fenced in by their biases, their personal tastes, their thoughts, their interests, and their desires.

And when it comes to romance, finding the other person incredibly attractive is kind of key, right? I mean, it wouldn’t be a romance if the heroine thought, “Gee, this guy is nice, but butt-ugly and I can’t imagine ever wanting to kiss him.” Maybe she might start out feeling that way, but there’s going to be something about the boy that makes her change her mind. Otherwise, we might have an amazing story, but it’s not going to be a romance. The literary genre “romance” always includes physical attraction in addition to the growth of a romantic relationship.

Boy with capSo of course our unreliable (i.e. biased) heroine is going to find her hero attractive. And in YA fiction, those feelings are always heightened, as they tend to be for teens and young adults. So the boy is not just “attractive,” he is insanely hot–to that particular character. 

Could we write more stories where the heroine finds a conventionally-unattractive boy hot? Probably. Would readers accept it? I don’t know.

But there’s another element to this–the imagination of the reader. When the heroine says “this boy is hot” the reader creates an image in their own minds of what that means. It may be influenced somewhat by the description in the book, but I guarantee that the reader’s own mental picture is going to outweigh even the book description. The reader is going to create that character into what the reader finds hot, and that will be quite different for each reader.

Boy 4So there’s a lot going on here–experiencing a story is a joint effort between the author and the reader. And I will be the first to admit that as authors, we need to try to bring more diversity into YA fiction. It’s not just not-so-hot boys being left out of our stories. What about gay teens, or disabled characters, or main characters that aren’t Caucasian? The people we present as interesting story characters are very limited, and I do think we can and should do better on this.

I do disagree with the author of the article when she suggests that YA fiction heroines are generally “awkward,” “clumsy,” or “out-of-place.” YA fiction heroines tend to fit conventional ideas of beauty and they always discover that they have amazing skills or talents they never dreamed of.

What Ms. Woodrow-Hill is forgetting is that concept of the “unreliable narrator” again. The heroine of YA fiction may see herself as clumsy or awkward or unattractive. But that usually turns out to be a matter of her own warped self-image and not actually the unbiased truth about her.

Boy kissing girlAnd I think that’s the point of a lot of YA fiction and why it is so popular with girls. Being a teenager (of any gender) is hell on the self-image. The appeal of these books is not so much the hot boys, though hot boys are fun. It’s the idea that no matter how insecure and doubtful I feel about myself, something is going to happen to prove me wrong, something that will show me that I am desirable, that I have potential, that I am so much more than I thought I could ever be.

I highly doubt that YA romance is causing vast numbers of young girls to expect fantasy hot boys instead of real-life flawed boys. Girls already do that, with or without books, just as boys do. We are all shaped by our culture’s definitions of beauty and attractiveness. Those expectations leave scars on our self-image, no matter what gender we are.

People have expressed the same fear about adult romance warping women’s views of men. But the vast majority of women are perfectly able to separate fantasy and reality, and that goes for young women as well.

I think a more important question to ask is whether our emphasis on hot boys is showing that women still have a tendency to measure their own value by the cultural value of the man they are with. If the point of most YA fiction is the heroine discovering her own true value and self-worth, are we saying that happens because a hot boy falls for her? Would she still have incredible value and importance if the boy who loves her was unattractive?

Or maybe we’re just overanalyzing all this. Maybe it’s as simple as this: teen girls have strong sex drives and vivid sexual fantasies, just like boys do. They are fully as capable of objectifying boys’ bodies as boys are of girls’ bodies. And while part of growing up and becoming mature is the ability to love and appreciate another person in spite of their imperfections, the fun of a good novel is the chance to indulge in a wildly unattainable fantasy.

Boy sitting

 

 

 

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Guys Who Sing Opera Are HOT

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Guys Who Sing Opera Are HOT

Opera. Hotties. OMG…paradise. Take a looooong look, and stop to listen as well. Which ones are your favorites? Enjoy!

33 Opera Hunks Who Need To Serenade You Right Now.

My top 5 from the list:

Christopher Dylan Herbert

Christopher Dylan Herbert

Hadleigh Adams

Hadleigh Adams

Beltrán Iraburu

Beltrán Iraburu

Jonas Kaufmann

Jonas Kaufmann

Matthew Morris

Matthew Morris

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