Sexual Harassment and Dress codes

Sexual harassment happens behind the closed doors of college campuses, it is hidden in the walls and pillows of a girl’s dorm room, it’s in the music played at college parties and it can even be hidden in a professor’s “stay after class”.The legal definition of sexual harassment is “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, direct or indirect threats or bribes for sexual activity, sexual innuendos and comments, sexually suggestive jokes, unwelcome touching or brushing against a person, pervasive displays of materials with sexually illicit or graphic content, and attempted or completed sexual assault.

”(Beavers and Halabi 2-3). Sexual harassment can happen to anyone regardless of race, sex, religion, and age. What does it say to students about going to a college that is more willing to punish their students for plagiarism than for sexual assault? In college, if a student is caught plagiarising a paper the student can be kicked out of class or expelled from college.

However, the punishment for sexual assault or harassment can range from separation of the victim and the perpetrator to suspension for a semester. Or in this case released from jail after serving 3 months. Brock Turner, a stanford swimmer who raped an unconscious girl at a party behind dumpster was suspended from swimming and sentenced to 6 months in jail but was released after 3 (Grinberg and Shoichet 1-3).Stanford places their student athletes on a higher pedestal than those “victims” of sexual harassment and would often suspend the perpetrator than expel him.

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Many people felt that his sentence was taken to lightly and he should be given more time.

People sympathized with Brock more and treated him as an all star swimmer and an innocent boy whose hopes and dreams for the future went down the drain because of a stupid decision to get drunk at a party instead of a rapist who sexually violated a girl without her consent behind a dumpster. Many protests and riots have happened due this case because people felt that stanford was protecting him because he was a student athlete (swimmer) who had a scholarship that had to be revoked after the case came out. Being an athlete does not make rape or any crime justifiable. Winning a gold medal does not equate to a get out of jail free card.

The effects of sexual harassment can last forever for both the victim, perpetrator and their families. There is no cure for trauma and the stigma that comes with being labeled a rape victim can be too much to bare at times and people crack under the messiness of it all, and that is exactly what happened to 17 year old Lindsay Armstrong who killed herself because her rape case was stigmatized due to the piece of underwear she was wearing. When using your voice to fight for yourself, people especially in court people will question your credibility. Armstrong killed herself because the system made her feel like a victim for a piece of clothing she wore. During the attack Lindsay wore ”jeans, a shirt, a jacket and boots”(Beaven) however the lawyers only focused on her underwear. Instead of making her feel safe and protected they made her feel like she was asking for it. This is not the first case were an item of clothing was used in court as evidence to her rape. In Ireland a 17 year old girl was raped by a 27 year old man and her lace thong underwear was used as evidence.The guy who raped her took her wearing lacy underwear as consent (Safronova 1).

This mentality have been embedded into society from the first day of school to a job interview. Clothes can say alot about the person and you always want to dress to impress however, clothes also can be a form of free expression. In schools all over the world, there is a given dress code that lists what is acceptable and non acceptable in school. However, dress codes are more lenient towards boys and more restricting on girls. In Kentucky, a girl was sent home for wearing a shirt with sweater on top that showed her collarbones for it violated dress code and teachers felt it would be “too distracting” for boys to learn.(Horswill 1) For most schools, girls are not allowed to wear shirts revealing shoulders, breast or collarbones, must wear skirts with the hem being longer than their fingertips or a couple inches below the knee, and pants that are not too tight or form fitting meanwhile boys can go to school wearing shorts and can even get away with sagging their pants.

Sending a girl home from school for showing her shoulders or collar bone because it can”distract boys from learning” is holding the girl responsible for how boys might view her and act towards her based of her clothes. It is prioritizing the boys “distraction free” learning environment more than the girls education. It promotes the objectification and sexualization of a girl’s body which is why some men grow up thinking that if a girl wears a certain outfit means she is giving consent. However,what a person wears does not equate to them giving consent, whether you’re wearing short skirt with a tight shirt or snow pants and snow boots if you say no the answer is no. People need to stop asking clothes for sex and start asking the person who is wearing them for sex and respect their answer.

The effects of sexual harassment can also make victims not want to come out. According to (Beavers and Halabi 4) many victims feel scared, guilty and embarrassed for being labeled a “rape victim” because of the stigmas and stereotypes that come along with it. There is also fear of not being believed. 30% of cases go unreported because victims believed that authorities won’t think the case is serious enough while 20% believe that someone would ask for proof or it didn’t happen.(Beavers and Halabi 32-33) That is 50% of rape cases swept under the rug because in today’s society people still don’t consider rape or sexual harassment a serious case and problem but instead something girls say for attention or they assume she was asking for it because she put on underwear that morning or had on pants.

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Sexual Harassment and Dress codes. (2022, Apr 26). Retrieved from

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