For anybody that knows me, they know I’m not a person who likes to be silenced. It’s rather difficult to stop me when I’m given permission to speak my mind. Normally, it is expected in college that people like me are freer to indulge this freedom of expression to inspire more discussions in the classroom. Unfortunately for me, I have learned this is apparently not the case.
A few weeks ago, my professor asked for my class’ opinions on dress codes and if the rules made sense or not. When I raised my hand, I had stated how they don’t make sense because they’re biased against girls. I then went on to describe my experience in high school, how I had seen boys in shorts that didn’t reach their fingertips and wear tank tops with slits in the sides that went almost to the hem of the shirt. I also tried to mention how none of those boys ever received so much as a suspicious glance from a teacher, let alone be demanded to go to the office to change into something deemed more appropriate.
I started pointing out how most guys have a very different experience with dress codes than girls, and proceeded to tell the class about what I had seen in high school. I was shocked when my professor and male classmates proceeded to burst out laughing. It was as if my personal experience didn’t seem to be relevant. What was even more infuriating, was when I tried to hold my tongue about their behavior to continue making my point, my professor cuts me off mid-sentence. Three times in a row. He clearly saw I was trying to continue, and he simply ignored me by asking a new question. Nobody tried to argue against my point, they only laughed.
I hadn’t been so appalled with a college professor before, but that incident left a very bad impression on me that took some time to diffuse. During the first two weeks after this incident occurred, I felt that it only made sense why the men would laugh at what I’d said. Of course, dress codes wouldn’t bother boys, because it doesn’t seem to be enforced with them. Pair that with teachers who unprofessionally cut off a student with a different opinion, and we have a textbook example of why girls are so infuriated at the sexism of dress codes.
Incidents like this are exactly what make girls feel more like pieces of meat to be ogled over and feel ashamed for developments that aren’t our fault. Girls are expected to be held responsible for the boys who stare at them.
Make no mistake, while I still believe what my professor did was unprofessional, I’m nowhere near as angry as when this incident first occurred. I don’t believe my teacher is sexist, nor did I ever think so. I think dress codes are sexist, and I stand by my statement that cutting me off was unprofessional and wrong. The fact that I was silenced on my opinion and laughed at by my male classmates is more infuriating to me than the original subject matter at hand.
To my professor, I say there is a major problem, and cutting me off didn’t stop the discussion from happening. It just made it a lot more public and ugly than it needed to be, which you brought on yourself. While you may not have thought about this after it happened, I have thought of it often. However, I am no longer as angry, and I do forgive you.
To the boys who laughed at me when I said that boys had a different experience than girls with dress codes, I almost ask in complete wonder how you don’t notice what I said was true? How many times have you seen your friends during high school be sent to the office for wearing tank tops? How many times have you heard one of your friends complain how they’re made to wear jeans instead of shorts when it’s hot outside? It’s almost like you’re unaware of the benefits you have just because you don’t have the same parts as females.
Just because it isn’t your problem, doesn’t mean that there is no problem. So, the next time a girl gives her perspective on such issues, don’t just laugh and silence her. Listen to what she says, even if you don’t agree with her. Instead of laughing, make an argument for why you believe differently. There’s a difference between disagreeing with someone and being rude. So, let me state clearly that you were unmistakably rude.