The other night the Scripps Tiernan Field House (the Scripps gym) had an Overnighter Party (which wasn’t actually a sleepover), and had a dress code of no ‘inappropriate pajamas: short, see-through, or revealing clothing’. Some Claremont students found this dress code to be ‘body policing and slut shaming’. In one protester’s words,
The tfh [Tiernan Field House, Scripps Gym] has employed body policing rhetoric in the past and hasn’t really owned up to it, cuz it’s been in the name of ~body positivity~ (fat-talk free zone still polices how you can talk about your body, but moreover it stigmatizes fatness as something bad/undesirable, when its totally fine and something someone can own and rock cuz bodies have a natural diversity. a more apt sign could be like “this is a body-positive zone”)…It’s along the lines of body-policing and slut-shaming to enforce modesty, and we thought it was especially hypocritical in a space that purports to be body-positive. The dress code would have it that we wear more to this pajama party than what we might wear to just work out at the gym. It seemed to us a really unnecessary restriction to add, since we’re all adults and have a pretty good sense of what should be generally appropriate in what space without being told like children what values to uphold with how we present our bodies.
She went with a group of friends to the party dressed in ‘slutty’ clothes (short shorts, lowcut tank tops, jackets zipped open), and a few of her radical queer Pomona friends came and joined in the protest. They did in fact manage to attract attention, and were able to (at least try to) explain what they saw as hypocritical body policing by the field house.
First of all, I agree with her protest. I think that a school such as Scripps that so obsessively pushes the idea of recognizing a patriarchal structure that tends to shame female bodies and make them ‘evil’ would never think to put a dress code on a party, especially one that’s supposed to be so explicitly about hanging out rather than drinking/hooking up.
Let’s logic it out for a second.
Why is there a dress code? Although they don’t explicitly say it, they want to keep ‘slutty’ clothes out. ‘Short’, ‘see-through’, and ‘revealing’ essentially means don’t show skin.
But we also don’t want men to be wearing short, see-through, or revealing clothing! Stop. That comes from a completely different mindset, usually one of disgust (please comment below if you disagree). Men don’t wear short, see-through, or revealing clothing because they are either called ‘gay’ or people think it’s disgusting to see a penis (ex. speedos), not because we are afraid that females looking upon that bare skin will suddenly become overridden with lust and try to jump them. The day the dress code for males and females comes from the same social context is the day I will rethink my opinion of dress codes.
But I just wanted The Overnighter to be a fun party, not sexualized. That’s why I think the dress code is a good idea. Stop again. Why are we automatically putting short shorts on the sex list? Why are we automatically putting being able to see female flesh on the sex list? With this argument you are automatically equating the female body with sex. The more female body there is, the more sexualized it is. It doesn’t matter if I see my body as a lump of flesh that gets me from one place to another, as long as I’m wearing short shorts and a lowcut shirt when I do it, I’m automatically a sex object. Perhaps instead of making me change my clothes, why don’t you just stop automatically setting my flesh equal to sex?
Well, if we are letting people come wearing whatever they want, what’s going to stop them from just wearing lingerie or nothing at all? Really? Do you really think this is going to happen? If you actually do (I honestly don’t think it would happen), this is where I get a bit grey-area on the dress code. As much as I don’t want people to be controlled in what they can wear, lingerie tends to be explicitly used for sex. Yes, some people might wear it as normal underwear, or just because they enjoy it, but the fact that it was marked as lingerie at all leads me to believe it was explicitly meant to be used for arousal. I think naked is a bad idea just because hygiene. Normal underwear? I think you should be allowed to wear it if you are comfortable enough and really want to. Lingerie/ballgags/bondage etc.? This is where it gets into the area of ‘are you making other people uncomfortable/grossed out with what you are wearing’ Although you might not be wearing it to be sexual, unless you explicitly inform ever individual that it is just for fun, they may be uncomfortable because you are showing your sexual preferences in public*. But if it is not an item sold explicitly for arousal, I don’t understand why I can’t wear it whenever I want, just because it might reveal a bit more thigh or breast.
So, Field House, here is a challenge. Can we recognize that dress codes tend to be a product of shaming of the female body, and that my body isn’t necessarily a sex object just because I wear less clothing? I feel like this is a fairly commonly accepted idea at Scripps, so I found it especially interesting that the Field House, a gym funded by Scripps, was so willing to put a dress code on one of its parties.
* Which may be sex shaming, I’d have to do more research into how much disgust at fetishwear stems from societal shaming of sex, and how much is visceral discomfort from not sharing similar sexual preferences, please comment below if you have an opinion on this.
Posted on March 19, 2013, in Claremont, Gender/Sexuality, Growing Up, Opinion and tagged Body, Body Positivity, Claremont, Claremont Colleges, Dress Code, Field House, Positivity, Sally Tiernan Field House, Scripps, Scripps College, Scripps Field house, Slut, Slut Shaming, Slutty, TFH, Tiernan Field House. Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.