Issy is one of Girls’ Uniform Agenda’s Young Uniform Activist, Issy tells her story and explains why this fight is more than just a pair of shorts or pair of pants.
My name is Issy and I have attended a coeducational public school since year 7. I am the pinnacle of a radical intersectional feminist and when thinking about how gender inequality impacted day to day life for young people, school uniforms and their problematic codes stood out to me.
My school has always been flaky with conversations, discussions and policy regarding this area of school life. On the numerous occasions I visited the uniform shop I always seemed to leave more confused and upset at the situation than before.
“Options” For Girls
My school now has what they call “options” for girls, but this is to say that there is a set of long pants that are supposed to be girls’ pants, but do not fit an average girl’s body at all. There is still no shorts option made for female-bodied people either. Additionally, what makes me the most upset about this whole situation is the stigma and attitude from students, but especially staff at the school, surrounding girls who seek these alternatives. The availability for the girls’ pants (regardless of their fit) was never even advertised and I was encouraged to ‘just get the skirt’ when I went into the uniform shop to buy them.
Overall, I know that my situation is better than it is in a lot of schools, which makes me mad, considering the still suboptimal state of my school’s uniform policy and practice.
Limiting Girls’ Futures
By actively disenfranchising the agency of girls and young women, we limit the ability for our future leaders to be as empowered as they deserve to be.
If schools can’t have pant options, a genuinely simple thing to do, then it seems to me we are never destined to achieve gender equality. It breaks my heart.
The fundamental issue with schools not instigating the change that is needed means that other students are not exposed to the fact that issues matter, and that young people have a voice. This is especially dangerous when it comes to young women and finding their place in society without the corrupt and misogynistic view of close-minded people penetrating the future leaders of our world. This further allows a stigma to be created within the community of young people, until eventually a cycle of social oppression (even if it is done unconsciously) where young women are incentivised to not act, to not make change and to eventually settle into the unfortunate position that close-minded people want them to be.
Key to the Door
To some people they may just be a pair of pants, or a pair of shorts, but to me, they are the key to the door that has been locked from young women for so long. We need to open that door, smash the door, and walk through, as empowered young women, which is exactly what society doesn’t want us to do. Which is why we need to do it, so much more.
If a girl wearing pants means she can run, and jump and climb, who’s to say, maybe she could even change the world.