The calendar may say summer ends in September but generations of students can bitterly atest to the fact that summer ends when the first back-to-school commercial premiers. As a law student, your preparation for the new school year is vastly different than when you were in elementary or high school. For many of you, it meant maybe getting a new computer, books, and also furnishing a new apartment. Buying new clothes was probably not even on your radar.
But I’m sure you can remember, either fondly or with horror, those shopping trips for new school clothes. You (or most likely your parent) may have had the school dress code vaguely in mind when deciding which t-shirts, jeans, or shorts to purchase. But do you know who has thought long and hard about dress codes? Professor Meredith Harbach. Her article, Sexualization, Sex Discrimination, and Public School Dress Codes, was published in the University of Richmond Law Review in 2016. This article explores how dress codes operate within a larger cultural context–one in which women are frequently sexualized and portrayed as “sex objects” valued primarily for their sexual appeal. And how increasingly in the United States the sexualization of girls and girlhood is recognized as widespread and problematic. In the majority of dress codes, female students are stigmatized for dressing in a way that is “distracting” the male students.
Professor Harbach’s article has generated a great deal of interest. It has been downloaded from the Law School’s institutional repository over 5000 times. It has been widely cited in dozens of law reviews, journals and newsletters devoted to educational issues. It was even cited by the New York Times. Download this article and thousands more in the law school’s UR Scholarship Repository.