A video which has been going viral on social media shows a group of girls at St. Francis College in Hyderabad, waiting to enter the college. They are granted entry based on the length of their kurtis, the new dress code.
A new rule imposed by the college, which came into effect from August 1st, said that students would have to wear kurtis below knee length, and sleeves. Sleeveless tops, shorts and similar clothing is banned on the campus.
The college dress code debate has been growing for the last few years, and yet the situation keeps escalating.
To begin with, the college is an all - girls college but the reasons for changing the dress code were that "their thighs were distracting." The college to cancel out the seed of protest from the students' minds, also reasoned that it will bring them "dignity", "respect" and "good marriage proposals."
Students of St. Francis College, were outraged at the brash upstaging of these rules and decided to protest against it on 16th September. 200 girls showed up for the protest, asking the management why and how could they impose such orthodox rules.
Many also took to their Instagram to share their opinions - "Firstly, it's a girls college where there are no boys, if the male professors are feeling uncomfortable, it's their fault to look at young girls in such a way. They are freaking 50 years of age and looking at girls in such a way. (It's the men and not the girls)" one student posted.
The college also hired female security guards to check the length of the kurtis. "They went ahead and pulled girls by their id cards and even pulled their kurtis," Zanobia Tumbi alleged in her Facebook post, which had several videos showing the security guards quarreling with the students.
In one of the videos, a girl can be heard saying, "This is supposed to be one of the best colleges in the Hyderabad. If we are treated like this here, what can we expect from the world?"
After four hours of protests, the college management finally gave in to the demands of the students and scrapped off the kurti rule.
But, Here's Why This Incident Was More Than Just A Protest
The protests at St Francis college brought to light the very sexist and unjust rules that colleges put up as a necessity.
We have all been conditioned to believe that all hell would break loose if, god forbid, the world didn't have dress codes. But, is that really what it's about?
Workplace and educational institutes do have a certain sense of decorum that should be maintained, and sure, if someone showed up to school or office wearing a gas mask and lab overcoat, there would be a lot of questions. But, are skirts or crop tops the equivalent?
The issue with dress codes is that most of these restrictions are directed towards girls and women. The foundation of dress codes is inherently sexist. And it is true, that boys also have some dress restrictions, but it very rarely disrupts the day to day activities for them.
Another issue that comes up is the use of the word "distraction", which is commonly thrown around when it comes to dress codes. But what exactly do they mean by distraction?
Gas mask - lab coat outfits aside, the idea of distractions is a very subtle way of sexualizing young women and yet making it their fault.
Instead of holding men accountable for looking at thighs and collarbones and being aroused, we tell women not to dress the way they want. Especially in a girls school or college, the men around them are usually professors who are much older than them.
Why not hire better, more focused and respectable men instead?
A college dress code is more than just a superficial rule, it delves into the idea of heteronormative, sexist and toxic moral policing, which is why so many students across the country are so unsettled by these outrageous dress codes.