Sunday, November 8, 2009

Mini Skirt Morality

I never thought I would see the day that Brazil, of all countries, contains people who are angry at the thought of an adult female wearing a short skirt. The same country that has given the world its carnival culture, which makes New Orleans look like a 17th century Massachusetts Bay colony bake off. But, alas, I would be wrong. Just in time to show us that religious extremism and misogyny comes in all cultures and societies, introducing Brazilian religious nutjobs gone wild.


Brazil student expelled after wearing mini-dress
SAO PAULO – A Brazilian university has expelled a woman who was heckled by hundreds of fellow students for wearing a short, pink dress to class — publicly accusing her Sunday of immorality.

The private Bandeirante University in Sao Bernardo do Campo, outside Sao Paulo, said 20-year-old Geisy Arruda disrespected "ethical principles, academic dignity and morality."

Bandeirante University published newspaper advertisements Sunday accusing Arruda of attending class with "inadequate clothing" and having a provocative attitude that was "incompatible with the university environment."

Arruda made headlines after the Oct. 22 incident, in which she had to be escorted away by police after wearing the mini-dress to class. She put on a professor's white coat and left amid a hail of insults and curses.

In the ad, titled "Educational Responsibility," the college said it had warned Arruda to change her behavior and decided to expel her after talking to students, staff and Arruda herself. It accused her of posing for pictures and provoking other students.

The university said it was also temporarily suspending some of the students who were seen heckling Arruda in a video of the incident that made the rounds on Youtube. It did not say how many were being suspended or how long they would be kept from attending classes.

Brazil's national student union released a statement on Sunday saying it was against the university's decision to expel Arruda, and Brazil's top official for women's policy, Nilcea Freire, told the official Agencia Brasil news service that the decision showed "intolerance and discrimination."

Although Brazil is known for its skimpy attire, especially in beach cities, most college students dress more modestly on campus — commonly in jeans and T-shirts. Some students had complained that Arruda seemed out of place in her revealing clothes, Brazilian media reported.


We should not preach, however. Our colleges can be just as intolerant, sadly.

Georgia college bans cross-dressing on campus

Jamie Reeves, News Editor

An all-male college in Atlanta, Ga. has banned the wearing of women’s clothes, make-up, high heels and purses as part of a new crackdown on what the institution calls “inappropriate attire.”

The Appropriate Attire Policy further prohibits the wearing of hats in buildings, pajamas in public, sagging pants, do-rags, sunglasses in class and walking barefoot on campus.

However, it is the ban on cross-dressing that has brought national attention to the small, historically African-American Morehouse College. Dr. William Bynum, vice president of Student Services, said in a forum with Morehouse Safe Space, the campus’ gay organization, that “we are talking about five students who are living a gay lifestyle that is leading them to dress in a way we do not expect in Morehouse men.”

Singling out individuals who have inspired the policy creates unnecessary and negative public attention for students who are just as deserving of a positive college experience as others, while limiting their freedom of expression and individuality.

Bynum also said the policy comes from the vision of the college president. Chronic dress code violators will be required to leave class in order to change and could ultimately be expelled from the school.

Rather than denying an individual the right to a college degree based on what they choose to wear, colleges should be placing disciplinary focus on academic integrity and responsibility.

Promoting leadership based upon one set way of dressing and acting only discourages diversity rather than promoting leadership representative of the many different lifestyles and cultures within a campus community.

Most Morehouse students support the policy. Some say it ensures a sense of respect for the administration and the kind of legacy that Morehouse is trying to uphold. It seems these students are undeserving of this same kind of respect.
Rather than focusing on academic performance, Morehouse administrators have chosen to disrespect their students’ choices and right to a challenging education by placing emphasis regarding their colleges’ standards on apparel rather than academic quality.

There are those who will defend this as a necessity. I am not one of those people. How do you think our faith community friends would respond if we banned all religious garb on college campuses? About the same way they act when you ban it in the workplace, with a lawsuit (I guess someone forgot to remind them that their party does not believe in lawsuits).

There is but one reason for this cultural browbeating of the Brazilian lady and transgendered in question. These 'rules' and norms of dress are designed to discriminate and target people. And look at who is being targeted. It is not the men who dress "normally." It is females (just as in rural Afghanistan), and people who are members of marginalized communities, as in the case of the transgendered students at Morehouse.

Really, do you consider this to be immoral?

I have seen many students, male and female, over the years wear much less or worse to one of my classes. I have never expelled one of my students for wearing short shorts, forgetting to wear his shoes (yes, a student did that in one of my classes), wearing a wild hairdo, walking around in a murse, and I absolutely would never humiliate one of them as a 'loose' person for his or her attire (of course, such accusations are almost always reserved for women, as men do not have to worry about being denigrated for moral laxity on account of our clothing). As long as they are alive and their brains are functioning, I do not care what they wear. This is none of my business as a college educator, and it should not be any business of the sexist students and administrators of these academic institutions, either.

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