09/06/2013 Jonathan Taylor

Dr. Nancy Cohen: School’s “No Bellies, Buns, or Breasts” Dress Code Promotes Rape Culture

Feminist Nancy Cohen, writing an article for the delusionally partisan AlterNet Education, has a complaint regarding her school’s dress code. “My daughters’ school has a new dress code,” she says, “No bellies. No buns. No breasts. Funny how it’s all about girls, not boys.”

Well, Nancy, that begs the question: how many boys are showing bellies, buns, and breasts? And what male dress code would you propose that would either work better than the one in place, or that isn’t already obvious to everyone?

Nancy continues:

Lucky me. The educational authorities were on the clothing case. Our collective parenting failure to enforce proper dress fobbed off on the public school system. And yet, something was missing. Oh right, male body parts.

Such as?

A well-intentioned new principal, brought in to close the achievement gap in an ethnically and economically diverse public high school in Los Angeles had instituted the sexual double standard as official school policy. Over 1,500 14 to 18-year-old girls were told, never mind aiming for top grades or a track medal, your female body is “distracting” and it must be hidden. Stupid me. I had neglected to teach my daughters about the male gaze and its female enforcers.

Both men and women judge women by their appearance. But to Nancy Cohen, bad behavior is apparently only bad when men do it. Nancy, should you really stoop to using “female dishonesty” to prove your point? Stereotyping another sex, while claiming to be against stereotyping, is just classic “female projection.” Don’t you agree? Or do you have some rethinking to do?

Cohen tells us that a clarification email soon arrived from the school principal:

I’d like to emphasize that the 3 Bs are for boys as well as girls, although, I admit, outside of the biology classroom, we’d more likely refer to chest rather than breast for boys … To round out our list, and prevent any further misunderstanding, we are adding a 4th B … Boxers (or any other undergarment students wear beneath their pants, shorts, or skirts) – we shouldn’t see them.

 To which Nancy steams:

Boxers? Really, madame principal? Her botched analogy reveals that she just doesn’t get it. Is the word “balls” too offensive to include in an email to parents?

Or maybe they didn’t reference it for the same reason they didn’t mention crotchless pants worn along with crotchless panties: because it’s completely obvious? How many male students are running around flashing their balls, compared to women who expose all or part of their bellies, buns, or breasts? Has the practice of males distracting (or perhaps you would say “intimidating”) females by exposing their testicles, running around, and flapping them all over the place ever been a problem in the entire history of public education?

She continues:

Obsessed with the alluring power of female flesh, the principal seemed oblivious at first to the message she sent to teenage males. Harassment and blaming the victim was exactly what transpired in one student Facebook group. The principal’s “no buns, bellies, breasts” rule had stoked the destructive flames of rape culture.

You’re right, Nancy. Asking students not to expose their bodies and to wear a moderate amount of clothing is tantamount to supporting rape culture. In order to stop rape culture, let’s just abandon a dress code altogether. For now on, females may wander around naked if they want. That’ll teach those boys!

You can’t buy this type of stupid.

That first email told parents to “scrutinize our kids” before sending them to school: “Have a fashion show! Are you seeing bellies? buns? Or breasts?” It’s even worse when students arrive at school. My daughter was interrupted by an assistant principal during a science lab and told to pull her shirt down. Less than a centimeter of stomach flesh was showing. Clearly that was more important than her science lesson. Inspectors stand watch at the school’s entrance looking for any cleavage peak or translucent shirts. 

Are you sure they weren’t looking for guns, other weapons, or strangers? I mean, it’s not like we’re at the peak of a gun hysteria movement that has been bubbling over for 20 years, starting with the Columbine high school massacre, right? Last year, the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting gripped the nation in hysteria concerning guns, school violence, and security. Huffington Post Education wasn’t able to post anything except anti-gun hit pieces for three days following the shooting. Even the website Teachboys.org posts content that has virtually nothing to do with empowering boys, and is just a long screed railing against guns.

Cohen also provides no concrete details of the alleged “Facebook group incident” that may or may not have occurred, let alone citations. Indeed, she cites nothing in the article at all; not the school where this policy occurred, the names of the administrator(s) involved, dates and times, nothing.

Think Nancy Cohen is just a banshee bellowing in the wilderness about academia, rather than someone integrated within it? Think again. According to her website:

Nancy earned her PhD in history from Columbia University and her A.B. from Brown University. She has taught American history and political science at Columbia, Binghamton University, Cal State Long Beach, and other universities in New York and California. She has been a visiting scholar at the UCLA Center for the Study of Women and the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. Currently Nancy is a visiting fellow in the History Department at Occidental College, where she teaches women and American politics.

Just another batshit crazy in a bustling hive of batshit crazies.

Jonathan Taylor
Follow me

Jonathan Taylor

Jonathan is Title IX For All's founder, editor, web designer, and database developer. Hailing from Texas, he makes a mean red beans n' rice and is always interested to learn new things.
Jonathan Taylor
Follow me
Share and rate this post:
Tagged: , , , ,

About the Author

Jonathan Taylor Jonathan is Title IX For All's founder, editor, web designer, and database developer. Hailing from Texas, he makes a mean red beans n' rice and is always interested to learn new things.

Comments (6)

  1. Michael Steane

    Absolutely fair enough. Let’s stop pretending that women do not use the way they dress to send out signals. If boys and men are to be subject to sanctions for creating a hostile work environment for saying things that a woman disagrees with, it is fair enough if women are not allowed to use their dress to control, manipulate and intimidate others.

  2. scott

    Many private schools in America who have a 50% male teacher ratio ( the real definition of patriarchy) do employ basic dress codes.
    American public schools who have an average 12% male teacher ratio ( the real matriarchy) is in direct opposition to any and all of these “regressive dress codes”.
    It seems that the super liberal Elite who dominate American universities are breaking others patriarchies, while keeping theirs comfortably intact.

  3. Tom James

    I take issue with your statement, “You can’t buy this type of stupid.” Sure you can. It’s called tuition.

  4. S. Misanthrope

    My school fought a never-ending war on visible boxers from 1st grade through 12th. “Gang attire” such as bandanas and, uh, plain white tshirts, were banned. Not until puberty- when girls suddenly started dressing differently- did girls get in trouble for dress code violations. Offensive slogans on tshirts- a favorite among boys- periodically cause a media stir over free speech vs dress codes.

    Even ignoring that boys ALSO can’t show midriff and cleavage (in the front OR the back), it’s hardly fair to claim girls suffer more dress code issues than boys.

    • Tom James

      Yep. My son was called into the principal’s office for wearing a tee-shirt we’d gotten as a souvenir from the Hell’s Kitchen restaurant. The school made him obliterate the word “damn” in the restaurant’s sales slogan, “damn good food!” with black permanent marker, thereby ruining the shirt. From my own youth, I recall being called into the office and told I would not be permitted to graduate unless I cut my hair in such a way that it was “off the collar and off the ears.” And don’t get me started on the double standards in the dress codes that apply to male vs. female attorneys in court.


Comments are closed.