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Yoga-pants ban harms both boys and girls

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Haven Middle School’s new dress code scarifies much more than comfort

By Opinions Editor James Wendt

Last month, female middle school students in Evanston, Illinois protested for the right to wear yoga pants after Haven Middle School staff claimed the pants are too distracting to boys. Conservative television host Bill O’Reilly and his guests weighed in on the issue on April 2’s episode of  “The O’Reilly Factor.”

The group concluded that outcry over the issue was a result of feminist “selective outrage” against any limitations placed on girls and women. However, O’Reilly and his guests remained oblivious to the truth: the yoga-pants ban is harmful to both girls and boys.

The yoga-pants ban, and other extreme restrictions on girls clothing, is especially harmful to young girls. The Haven Middle School administrators are teaching girls that they have an obligation to consider how boys feel when making a decision as fundamental as what to wear. The school’s banning of yoga pants because they are “distracting to boys” is a microcosm of the cultural message we are constantly sending girls and women. Girls and women are taught that their preferences come second to those of boys and men.

In the case of the yoga pants, the message is that a female student’s comfort and preference is not as important as their male counterpart’s success. Demanding girls to refrain from wearing certain clothing communicates that they must make their decisions while keeping in mind how it will impact boys.

Haven Middle School student Sophie Hasty also recognizes with the detrimental impact of the ban.

“Not being able to wear leggings because it’s ‘too distracting to boys’ is giving us the impression we should be guilty for what guys do,” Hasty said in an article posted by the “Evanston Review“.

Even the basis of the asinine argument that yoga pants interfere with boys’ learning is flawed. In fact, it is insulting and equally harmful to the male students. The Haven Middle School administration was attempting to curb 13-year-old boys’ libidos by placing restrictions on 13-year-old girls. If it sounds ridiculous, that’s because it is.

If a kid is getting an “F” because he’s too preoccupied with a girl’s butt to focus in class, obviously the problem isn’t the girl. The problem is with a cultural assumption that boys and men are sex-crazed monsters incapable of controlling their hormones. The school and cultural effort should be shifted to teaching boys about respect and encouraging them to control their sex-drive instead of requiring girls to behave differently.

Exposure to an environment in which possible “temptations” or “distractions” are present and in which an expectation that students focus on school is also present could actually be constructive in teaching responsibility. Learning to balance a sex-drive with intellect is vital to raising responsible young men capable of emotional relationships. If we accept the stereotype that a boy’s emotions and complex thoughts are at the mercy of his libido, we write a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The Haven Middle School yoga-pants ban is detrimental to both male and female students. Unfortunately, our culture perpetuates the message that women should make decisions based on how they will affect men. It is equally harmful to perpetuate that a man’s intelligence exists at the whim of his hormones. It is our social responsibility to combat such limitations on our healthy existence by refuting policies that continue to reinforce negative gender roles.

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2 Responses to “Yoga-pants ban harms both boys and girls”

  1. Emily Akins on April 16th, 2014 10:43 pm

    I definitely think this is an issue that is underplayed in the politics surrounding the dress code. I especially liked the focus, in the article, on the damage to the male students as well as the impact on their future image of women and their own roles in society. The negative image of the male students and the subsequent restriction on the female student’s clothing shows how much pre-modern thinking still exists in the world today.


  2. Melanie Bussa on April 18th, 2014 9:43 pm



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Yoga-pants ban harms both boys and girls