A 15-year-old Canadian girl, who was shamed for wearing denim shorts to her high school, is standing up for her right to wear what she wants, and protesting the sexual objectification of women.
Eleventh grader Lindsey Stocker of Beaconsfield High School in Quebec was singled out on May 21 after school officials had her entire classroom stand up for a dress code inspection. With her arms at her sides, her fingertips reached further down her leg than her shorts. She was told they were too short and that she had to change them.
“When I started explaining why I didn’t understand that rule, they didn’t really want to hear anything I had to say, and it was in front of my entire class. I felt very attacked … and I didn’t want to tell them how I felt,” she told CBC. The school officials told her that she didn’t need to understand the rules, only that she had to comply by them, according to the Daily Mail. She said that the rules only apply to girls. “They don’t really care what guys wear. They just kind of target the girls first.”
But instead of changing, Stocker printed a set of posters saying, “Don’t humiliate her because she is wearing shorts. It’s hot outside. Instead of shaming girls for their bodies, teach boys that girls are not sexual objects.” She then taped them throughout her school’s hallways.
The posters were immediately taken down and Stocker was since suspended, but the incident was an important message to boys and men. “People are being judged for the way they dress, they have to change because boys look at them. They boys should be the ones who have to learn to treat women better, and look at them in a different light,” Lauren Paquay, a 15-year-old student who was involved in a similar incident at a different high school, told CBC.
The schools argued that dress codes are implemented to teach students that dress codes are a part of society, such as in the workforce. But forcing girls to stand up with their arms at their sides may be too humiliating. Stocker’s protests also fall in line with a much larger issue: the sexual objectification behind the mass shootings at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
As a 22-year-old virgin, whose life was immersed in Hollywood’s objectification of women — his father is the director of The Hunger Games — Elliot Rodger’s rampage at the UCSB campus left six victims dead and brought to light the daily occurrences of women across the country who are victims of sexual objectification. Through the Twitter hashtag, “#YesAllWomen,” women around the country voiced their daily experiences of rape, harassment, and other forms of misogyny. None of them should have to fear these things, but it’s obvious from Stocker’s experience that these mindsets are bred from an early age.
Stocker could have approached the situation in a different way, her school’s chairwoman, Suanne Stein Day, told CBC. But taking quick, direct action may have been the only way to get her message heard.