Sunday, January 15, 2017

School uniforms are sexist? Oh, please

By Jane Fynes-Clinton (The fine Clinton is one of Australia's many excellent conservative women journalists.  As in Jennifer Oriel, Grace Collier, Miranda Devine, Rita Panahi, Janet Albrechtsen, Judith Sloan, Caroline Overington, Corrine Barraclough etc.  Eat your heart out, feminists)

An academic from Queensland University of Technology this week hurled the first of the school preparation grenades, contending that school uniform requirement should no longer be split along gender lines.

The focus in the school uniform discussion should be about climate and occasion appropriateness, not sexism. (Pic: iStock)

Cultural learning senior lecturer and psychologist Amanda Mergler pointed out in her piece on The Conversation that some parents felt requiring their daughters to wear dresses and skirts was outdated and amounted to gender disadvantage.

To this, I say piffle.

Dresses are not passe. Skirts are not discriminatory or symbols of sexism. They do not limit female power or confidence.

And having our boys and girls dressed the same — as boys, effectively — does not make them the same.

They are not, never should be, and clothes do not make the man (or woman). Celebrate difference, because difference between genders does not mean better or worse and schoolchildren should not be encouraged to see themselves as a homogenous, genderless blob.

Dresses are not by their nature sexualising creations.

Dresses and skirts are cooler in the heat of summer, have more wriggle room for wearers and are more easily kept looking neat.

But there are naysayers. A Journal of Gender Studies paper published in 2013 said dresses and skirts as school uniforms “ritualised girling” and affected the performance of the wearer.

Proponents of homogeny say dresses require girls to be more demure, and to walk, run and sit differently.

Dresses have a habit of ballooning in a breeze and girls are always at risk of showing their underwear.

The anti-dress brigade also argues dresses make girls more quickly available sexually. Yes, they seriously say that.

It is not sexist to wear a dress, just as it is not sexist to call someone a woman, as if by saying that, it is all she is. It is discriminatory to act as if wearing a skirt delegates that person to a lesser station, which is effectively what is contended by Mergler.

This is political correctness gone loopy, a distraction from the core issues around school uniforms. Surely, they are about practicality, appropriateness and, because this is a world where we seem to require it in every facet, choice that are subjects of discussion, not whether girls should wear dresses.
Girls are not being “disadvantaged” by wearing skirts as their school uniform. (Pic: Getty Images)

School uniforms have a long tradition in Australia.

They level the playing field and stabilise a school’s community branding. They provide certainty at a changeable, important time in a human’s development. They are here to stay.

The focus in the school uniform discussion should be about climate and occasion appropriateness. And given school should be a relatively formal, learning-focused place, surely discussions should hinge on practicality and comfort,

as well as presenting an appropriate public face of the school.

I think school uniforms should not be overly fashionable and not because of a dislike of fashionability or disregard for style, but because a school’s core purpose is the delivery of learning experiences.

And if skirts are done away with in coeducational settings to mitigate the risk of sexualising females, it follows that girls at same-sex schools would be left out on a rather provocative limb.

I attended an all-girls school in Brisbane. We wore unflattering dresses for lessons and unattractive skirts with undershorts (never to be seen in public except on the playing field) for sport. We were told how long they had to be.

The uniform and the rules are the same at that school today.

We were constantly told we were girls, or young ladies, that we must act with integrity and modesty, as all young people should. The uniform regulation was uniformly unforced.

Sure, our box pleats meant we had to take special measures in stiff winds and deal with sweaty, slidey seats in summer. And yes, we were forbidden from sitting cross legged on the ground in public, lest the good name of our school be erased in a thoughtless flash.

Fair enough. We were girls and girls wore modest dresses and skirts to school. No contest. If we didn’t like it, we could leave.

It was a slice of life and we expressed ourselves elsewhere and in other ways.

I am old enough to recall a time when female members of the public who attended Brisbane City Council meetings were forbidden from wearing pants. I also recall a female journalist in the 1980s attending in slacks to push the envelope and make a point. She was excluded.

And a public relations firm in Brisbane forbade its all-female staff from wearing trousers in the early 1990s.

Those who require such things now enforce the wearing of a uniform to get around claims of discrimination.

Surely the point now is that choice is key, not demonising the dress and skirt as old-school, sexist creations that are vehicles for lust and degradation?

Please, let common sense prevail in any discussions about school uniforms.


Three campus rape accusations fail when tested in court

What does that say about untested claims?  Could it mostly be just a beat-up

A third Durham University student in a year has walked free after being charged with rape.

Alastair Cooke, 23, said last night that he was ‘delighted this nightmare is over’ after the case against him was dropped.

Mr Cooke, a third-year geology and geophysics student, was weeks away from an expected first class degree when he was arrested in 2015 on suspicion of raping a 23-year-old student in her home when she drunk.

But jurors could not agree on a verdict, and yesterday Durham Crown Court was told that the prosecution would not seek a retrial on the three rape charges faced by Mr Cooke and that his accuser agreed with that decision.

‘We therefore offer no evidence on these counts,’ said prosecutor Paul Cleasby.

After the decision Mr Cooke’s barrister warned that attitudes towards sex and alcohol needed to change in universities.

The student was the third undergraduate to be cleared of rape in the past 12 months. Last January Louis Richardson, then 21, the former secretary of the Durham Union debating society, was cleared by a jury in less than three hours.

The history student, from St Helier, Jersey, and his family said they had been put through ‘15 months of absolute hell’.

Engineering student George Worrall, 22, from Cromer in Norfolk, faced three counts of rape, but last July after he had been under suspicion for 18 months the Crown Prosecution Service dropped the case before it went to trial, citing ‘inconsistencies of the victim’s account’.

Mr Cooke, who denied the charges, did not attend court yesterday and was at his family home in Truro, Cornwall, when he heard the news.

He said: ‘This has been a really difficult time for all those involved on all sides. I am delighted this nightmare is now over. I am looking forward to trying to piece my life back together.’

Mr Cooke, who now plans to complete his degree, was accused of raping the woman at her student house in June 2015 when she was very drunk and unresponsive.

He had known the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, for two years. It was alleged that he stalked her back to her home from a house party, let himself in and raped her three times in her bedroom.

During the original trial, the geography student was accused of following the woman home from a party in June 2015
During the original trial, the geography student was accused of following the woman home from a party in June 2015

But his barrister, Cathy McCulloch, told the court last month that the allegation arose from ‘regret which got out of hand’.

Jurors were also told that the woman had a tendency to exaggerate and that the ‘willowy’ Mr Cooke was too weak to throw her around ‘like a rag doll’ as she claimed.

It was alleged during his trial that the woman’s friends were a ‘mob’ who knew ‘exactly what it took to get a rape conviction’. Mrs McCulloch said: ‘They were all working together to help their friend.’


Time to take a wrecking ball to an utterly corrupt educational status quo

“Beginning in the 1960s, from Boston to Berkeley, the teachers of America’s teachers absorbed and taught a new, CliffsNotes-style sacred history: America was born tainted by Western Civilization’s original sins — racism, sexism, greed, genocide against natives and the environment, all wrapped in religious obscurantism, and on the basis of hypocritical promises of freedom and equality. Secular saints from Herbert Croly and Woodrow Wilson to Franklin Roosevelt and Barack Obama have been redeeming those promises, placing America on the path of greater justice in the face of resistance from the mass of Americans who are racist, sexist, but above all stupid. To consider such persons on the same basis as their betters would be, as President Obama has called it, ‘false equivalence.’” —Angelo Codevilla, “The Rise of Political Correctness”

If there is a better summation of the cultural divide, one is hard-pressed to imagine what it is. And while the election of Donald Trump represents a repudiation of the insufferable elitist mindset cited above, it may only be a brief reprieve. As the daily depredations by the Leftmedia and its allies in Hollywood, academia and the corporate world indicate, our “betters” will not go quietly into the night. Moreover, they will do everything possible to undermine the current “aberration.”

Nonetheless, an opportunity, no matter how brief, exists. One that requires laser-like focus on the one entity whose co-option by the Left has paid them the greatest long-term dividends. In short, a Trump administration must work diligently to eviscerate the Democrats' Education Complex. Unless this de facto monopoly of leftist indoctrination factories is leveled, America will remain oppressed by leftist hegemony.

“Fear of the Trump administration’s nascent education policy has coalesced around the idea that Trump’s pick for education secretary, Betsy DeVos, is the agent of a furtive movement for ‘privatization’ that seeks to destroy the public-school system,” explains National Review columnist Paul Crookston. “Teachers' unions and liberal pundits and academics claim that mass defunding of public schools is the real goal behind ‘school choice.’”

Decent Americans should pray that this is so, and a recent New York Post article reveals exactly why. It talks about the United Federation of Teachers, whose budget increase from last year’s $168.7 million to this year’s $181.2 million pays for such “education-related” expenditures as Yankee and Met tickets, trips to New Orleans, Orlando and Las Vegas — and Cadillac salaries for union bigwigs, 65 of whom earn more than $165,000 each. Union boss Michael Mulgrew, who opposes charter schools and anything resembling genuine accountability, earns $283,804.

Moreover, while these hacks are living quite comfortably, courtesy of required teachers' dues, they’re also busy solidifying their political clout by donating to hard-left political organizations like ACORN, which was defunded by Congress in 2009 after undercover videos revealed counselors advising a “pimp” and “prostitute” on how to commit tax fraud.

What does this toxic mix produce? “A scathing state report flunked 91 city schools Thursday for eye-poppingly low graduation rates and test scores — and cited 40 of them for a decade of teaching futility,” reported the Daily News in 2015. The paper further notes at least 50,000 children, 90 percent of whom are minority and/or indigent, attended schools “where less than half the students graduated and fewer than 1 in 10 were proficient in either English or math” — all despite an average spending boost of 13.8%.

New York is hardly an outlier. Millions of children across the nation are trapped in virtually identical union-run hellholes, all beholden to one contemptible idea that should be tossed on the ash heap of history: where one lives determines what school one attends.

To realize just how contemptible that concept is, one need only imagine a real world equivalent. Imagine needing a new car and only being allowed to purchase one from the car dealer you’ve been “assigned” based on your home address. Imagine the kind of price and service one might get when that dealership knows it has a captive customer. Now imagine certain groups of elitists who aren’t bound by the same restriction.

Those are the very same leftist elitists who wouldn’t dream of allowing their children to attend the public schools they so heartily support for everyone else. They support school choice — for themselves — while the “little people” get no choice at all, lest failing schools face defunding.

Or parent-empowered competition.

Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos is a staunch supporter of charters, vouchers for private schools, and tax credits for homeschoolers — or everything anathema to the status quo-ers, exactly because it transfers power from government bureaucrats to education “consumers.”

Hence, the predictable attacks. “Betsy DeVos lacks the qualifications and experience to serve as secretary of education,” insists American Federation of Teachers (AFT) president Randi Weingarten. “Her drive to privatize education is demonstrably destructive to public schools and to the educational success of all of our children.”

More like demonstrably destructive for an AFT/Democrat alliance whereby the union donates 100% of its campaign funding to the Party in every election cycle.

As for the educational “success” of our children, the title of an article by NPR says it all: “America’s High School Graduates Look Like Other Countries' High School Dropouts.” American students are average in literacy, woeful in math — and dead last in technology, according to a Program for International Assessment of Adult Competencies study.

Thus, the leftist-dominated status quo is all about keeping “stupid” Americans stupid. And given the achievement gap between minority and white students that has existed for more than 50 years, keeping minority Americans “stupider” than everyone else appears to be an acceptable part of the equation.

In other words, the same leftists who reflexively accuse everyone else of racism have arguably been engaged in maintaining perhaps the most enduring racist construct in the history of the republic.

Unfortunately, bad education is only half the equation. “A study by the National Association of Scholars, released on Tuesday, reveals how Obama’s ultra-liberal progressives have begun to turn American higher ed into a vehicle for left-wing activism and propaganda,” reveals columnist F. H. Buckley.

As NAS puts it in “Making Citizens: How American Universities Teach Civics,” today’s civics courses are all about teaching students that a good citizen “is a radical activist,” political activism is “at the center of everything that students do in college,” and that it is more important to learn “how to organize protests, occupy buildings, and stage demonstrations” than understand the foundations of American government.

“What is to be done with a political system in which no one any longer believes?” asks Codevilla.

Answer: Take a wrecking ball to an utterly corrupt educational status quo that spawned and nurtured that political skepticism.

The bottom line is that our nation can withstand virtually anything other than a leftist-cultivated loss of faith masquerading itself as public school and college education. Nothing less than a paradigm shift is required to restore that faith, one that wrests control of our educational system away from the Democrats' Education Complex. Otherwise, the attempt to restore American exceptionalism will amount to little more than a brief detour on the road to permanent, leftist-dominated serfdom.


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