When I first learned that the boys of Exeter’s ISCA Academy were arriving to school wearing skirts, I couldn’t help wanting to cheer. Good for them! It’s about time someone tackled the blatant sexism of gendered dress codes head on.
There’s no reason at all why boys shouldn’t wear skirts, or dresses, or anything else arbitrarily coded as “feminine”. Make the most of it, lads! You have nothing to lose but your pockets!
And why stop there? If we’re serious about increasing equality between the sexes, it’s about time we challenged anything that needlessly exaggerates difference. Clothing might seem a trivial matter, but gendered dress codes reinforce much broader beliefs about how boys and girls should look, think, feel and behave.
The rule that states “a boy should not wear a skirt” sits alongside the one that states “a boy must not be vulnerable, passive or weak”. A boy must not, in other words, be like a girl, because girls are inferior (hence it’s not so controversial for a girl to wear trousers. For girls, wanting to be like a boy is seen as aspirational).