The purpose of our blog is to discuss topical issues, stories, and situations, as well as to share what we are up to and new ways for you to get involved. We are always searching for possible answers to the question: Why is a girl's worth culturally and historically relative?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Is there such a thing as an innocent short skirt?

Photo by Flickr user UGArdener

A school in Worcestershire, England, has told its female pupils that from September they will no longer be able to wear skirts, due to concerns from teachers about rising hemlines. According to campaign group School Skirt Ban, 63 secondary schools (teaching children from the age of 11-16) currently have such a ban in place. 

The head teacher at Walkwood Church of England Middle School said that the ban was necessary because some of the older girls were wearing extremely short skirts and refusing to comply with teachers' instructions to roll them down. He added: "It was becoming difficult, especially when it came to them sitting down in the school hall. It was very unladylike."

There are of course practical reasons for enforcing a uniform policy, not least the fact that some studies have shown that wearing a uniform can improve attendance in secondary schools, but bans on certain items of clothing tend to be on clothes worn by girls: specifically, skirts.

School Skirt Bans claims that such rules could actually be illegal under the European Human Rights Act as a form of discrimination. Although no case has been tried in court, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has strongly advised schools against making such a ban for this reason.

Is this discrimination? Or does the head teacher have his pupil's best interests at heart? The fact is that school children will always rebel against their school uniform, and shortening hemlines is an easy way to do this.

A group of twenty parents have complained to the school about the ban, with one saying that "to call a nine-year-old girl unladylike is absurd."

The implication of this is that there is an age limit on sexualisation: that girls under a certain age cannot be considered over-sexualised because they are under an unspecified age. Put like that, it seems contrary to many people's concerns about the over-sexualisation of children, which is precisely that they are too young.

What do you think? Are short skirts a sign of over-sexualisation at any age or is there an age when girls can wear short skirts innocently?

-Sarah Jackson
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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