I went to a Catholic elementary school. We didn’t have uniforms, but we did have a strict no-shorts-in-church dress code. Girls, of course, could wear skirts, but the boys had to wear pants, no matter how hot it was. (Unless you happened to be my brother, who brazenly rolled up his trousers when it got too hot).
The unfairness of the skirt-pants dichotomy didn’t really strike me then, but it definitely occurred to a group of high school boys in Wales who recently found themselves suffering during a heat wave. (“Heat wave” being relative, of course — 86 degrees? Psh. What amateurs).
Like at the Catholic school where I spent my formative years, boys at Whitchurch High School in Cardiff†have to wear pants, while the girls get a slight reprieve from the heat by wearing skirts. However, a group of grade 10 boys at the school refused to take this lying down, so†they organized to protest the shorts ban…by wearing skirts.
According to the Mirror:
Protester Tyrone Evelyn, 15, of Bala Road in Whitchurch, said the group would continue campaigning for a change.
He said: ďItís just appropriate for the weather Ė we donít want to be hot and bothered. Over the last few days Iíve had a few headaches and skin irritations because Iíve been too hot.
ďGirls can wear skirts, so I donít see why we canít wear shorts. Itís a reasonable protest.Ē
It really is a reasonable protest, and this isn’t the first time men have worn skirts to protest dress codes. In Sweden, male train conductors wore skirts to protest a rail company’s dress code that allowed women to choose between pants and skirts, but only allowed men to wear pants. A similar protest went on at Gowerton Comprehensive in Swansea, as well.
Some of the boys and their parents were interviewed in this video from The Telegraph:
The Swedish train conductors won their demands, but the Welsh boys haven’t. At least, not yet.
But I think these protests highlight something more interesting. Maybe the question shouldn’t be, why can’t the kids just wear shorts? Instead maybe it should be, why are clothes so gendered? Why is it that society requires that men put each leg in its own tube of fabric, while women can just put their entire bottom half in one tube?
Let’s take the ambient temperature of the environment out of it. What do we find so threatening about a man in a skirt? We don’t find a woman in pants to be any particular threat (at least, not anymore). We’ve arbitrarily, over time, decided that skirts are for girls. And, let’s be honest, being called a girl is basically the worst thing you can call a boy. (There aren’t a lot of pejorative terms for men that aren’t denigrating women in some form. Think about it). In an ideal world, boys wearing skirts to school wouldn’t raise any eyebrows at all.
That said, man, summer sucks and shorts are the best. I hope those boys win their right to be cool.
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