College Kids These Days

BY ANNIE BOGGS

Deciding what to wear on a night out is usually a matter of deliberation and accomplished with the help of my roommates. In my college town, as in a lot of other areas populated with young people, there seems to be much more pressure on female students than their male counterparts to dress to the nines and look “cute.” Annoying, sure, but is this harmless or damaging sexism at work?

In this recent New York Times piece, writer Lisa Belkin contrasts the equality college women have achieved in the classroom to the lack of respect they seem to receive in social settings. Mainly using examples of fraternities, she describes a setting where largely “men set the pace”, and the “he chases, she submits” way of thinking seems to be ingrained in college culture.

Of course, sexist fraternity members aren’t representative of all college students. It is true, however, that many think that because we’ve reached certain statistics and quotas that demonstrate equality, we can stop caring about it and stop working toward change. That just isn’t true. Women compose more than half of college students, but that doesn’t mean the same old gendered power division doesn’t exist outside the classroom.

A defining factor, I think, is believing you have the choice of what to wear and how to act, independent of others’ expectations. As a young woman, I was taught that I can wear anything I want (and sometimes I think back in disbelief to the days before women could wear pants!). This sometimes includes short dresses, but I don’t like to think it’s dictated by a societal trend that takes away my agency.

The generation of women in college have the most freedom women have ever had, and therefore more expectations, so I can understand the writer’s frustration with the current college culture and definitely think it should be further discussed. Do older generations just not “get” this new kind of female empowerment, or did women’s equality truly get lost in the shuffle somehow? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section!

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  1. Enna says:

    There is a difference between wearing a mini skirt to be “sexy” and wearing one because it looks stylish. Women should be allowed to wear what they want mini skirt, long skirt shorts or trousers. This article makes the valid point about not generalising men, what the wider public have to understand that they shouldn’t generalise women who wear short skirts either.

    I live in the UK and some people complain about some Muslim women wearing the Burkha, then they will complain about women wearing short dresses. It’s quite clear that women can’t win. Just let us choose! Our body our choice!

    Dressing in a short skirt does not mean a woman is “asking for it”. For those people who think it is just try using the same logic for male rape and male harrasement. If men are always “up for it” “wanting action” then if they get errected then they must be consenting – doesn’t matter if the man is handcuffed to a chair or drugged, or pinned down, or has a knife to his throat. Men must like getting their bums slapped by random strangers and pushed arond then.

    It doesn’t matter who the victim or the attacker it is, harrasement is wrong. Always wrong.

  2. Kat says:

    I think you’re spot on in the difference in men’s and women’s appropriate “going out” attire. Guys are totally fine in a graphic tee and worn out jeans, but as women we’re supposed to wear slinky tops and skin tight skirts or jeans and super-high heels.

    As a mid-to-late-twenties adult, I’ve finally decided I wear what I feel comfortable in. If I want to wear a tshirt and my chucks with ratty old jeans, I do. If I want to wear the low-cut top because I feel like it, I do. My husband sometimes dresses up and sometimes dresses down and it’s freeing to “be able” to do the same based on what I feel like wearing and not what retail stores and society says I should be wearing to the bar.

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