These School Boys Protested Gendered Dress Codes

June 22nd 2017

Danielle DeCourcey

A group of teenage boys in the U.K. are going viral for a skirt-wearing protest that highlights the ridiculousness of school dress codes.

Boys at Isca Academy in Exeter wanted to wear shorts instead of pants because of the hot weather. However, because shorts aren't allowed in the school uniform policy, they decided to wear skirts instead.

Tweets about the protests were shared thousands of times.

One protester's mother said she was proud of her son for taking part.

“Ryan came up with the idea of wearing a skirt, so that evening we borrowed one. He wore it the next day – as did five other boys," Claire Lambeth told The Guardian. "Then this morning, I didn’t expect it to take off like that. The school is being silly really – this is exceptional weather. I was very proud of Ryan."

The protest is getting international attention because it's still considered shocking for boys to dress in skirts.

Western society's gender norms for boys and men tend to restrict them from anything seen as stereotypically feminine.

A similar stir was raised in the U.S. last month when a startup began advertising the RompHim—a romper for men.

It quickly started a debate about masculinity.

The logic behind any criticism of men who wear stereotypically feminine attire is simple and sexist—female clothing is a bad look for men because it makes them appear weak, just like a woman. 

But these gendered standards of dress are both new and totally arbitrary. In many countries, men historically wore skirts.

Men wearing skirts in Albania.

As JR Thorpe pointed out in a piece for Bustle, all men except horse riders wore skirts in ancient times, including Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, and Aztecs. Pants didn't become associated with men until more people had to ride horses.

"If societies were gender-divided as to who rode the horses, did the fighting and rounded up the cattle, as many of them seem to have been, it must have seemed natural that pants slowly developed to be a 'masculine' necessity," wrote Thorpe. "As most of us no longer ride horses daily, though, it's scarcely an applicable logic nowadays."

RELATED: How These Boys Defied Gender Norms in Order to Beat a School's Uniform Policy