If you want to know why millennials are far more economically liberal than other generations, consider the news that colleges have started opening on-campus food banks to keep their students from going hungry.
Animals have these advantages over man: they never hear the clock strike, they die without any idea of death, they have no theologians to instruct them, their last moments are not disturbed by unwelcome and unpleasant ceremonies, their funerals cost them nothing, and no one starts lawsuits over their wills
An 8-year-old girl camper began swimming near the edge of the pool by me. She was a tiny girl with a bubbly personality, and she was very attached to me. Upon seeing us talking, the boy swam over and started chasing her around the water. It was clear from the way she was trying to get away from him and her screeching that she wanted to be left alone — her body language and tense demeanor should have showed that she was uncomfortable — but if that wasn’t enough of a clue, the “stop” she yelled in protest should have been enough for him to go away.
That’s when it really hit me how serious the situation was. I could immediately picture it escalating. I didn’t see an 8-year-old girl and an 11-year-old boy anymore; I saw the two of them as fully grown and matured adults. The girl was still small and skinny, and the boy was large enough to overpower her with little effort. I could see her running away from him, trying to push off his advances in a more sexual situation, but him refusing to believe that she really wanted him to stop. I saw him ignoring her physical protests right along with the verbal ones, convinced she wanted him there. It horrified me.
I reprimanded him immediately, insisting that when someone asks you to stop, it’s important to listen. Almost seconds later, a male counselor standing by the same section of the pool told him not to listen to me and to continue his pursuit of this little girl, despite her obvious protests. Here were two boys, roughly 10 years apart in age, but with the same views on women: that consent doesn’t matter. It’s not a generational thing: this mindset has clearly been ingrained into the public psyche from an early age. How often are we told not to take no for an answer? How often do we see children pestering their parents about getting a new toy until they eventually give in? How often do we hear about a woman’s whims coming with her menstrual cycle? How often do we see on television shows and in movies a woman “changing her mind” about a man who is persistent enough or who just proves himself worthy? The idea that a woman will change her mind is so ingrained that we can’t always recognize it at first.
The concern for overly exposed young bodies may be well-intentioned. With society fetishizing girls at younger and younger ages, girls are instructed to self-objectify and see themselves as sexual objects, something to be looked at. A laundry list of problems can come from obsessing over one’s appearance: eating disorders, depression, low self-worth. Who wouldn’t want to spare her daughter from these struggles?
But these dress codes fall short of being legitimately helpful. What we fail to consider when enforcing restrictions on skirt-length and the tightness of pants is the girls themselves—not just their clothes, but their thoughts, emotions, budding sexuality and self-image.
Instead, these restrictions are executed with distracted boys in mind, casting girls as inherent sexual threats needing to be tamed. Dress restrictions in schools contribute to the very problem they aim to solve: the objectification of young girls. When you tell a girl what to wear (or force her to cover up with an oversized T-shirt), you control her body. When you control a girl’s body—even if it is ostensibly for her “own good”—you take away her agency. You tell her that her body is not her own.
When you deem a girl’s dress “inappropriate,” you’re also telling her, “Because your body may distract boys, your body is inappropriate. Cover it up.” You recontextualize her body; she now exists through the male gaze.