My Response to RWU’s “Gym Dress Code”…

15 Sep

Well, well, well here I am typing up a quick post at 6:30am before work because last night I read an article about a new change at my Alma Mater, Roger Williams University, that really upset me…

The school instituted a new dress code.

Not for class, but for the gym. 

Take a minute for that to sink in. No, I’m not joking, here’s the article from Barstool Sports: WTF

(Yes, I know my source is from a bro-ey sports site, but these quotes are from real faculty that I know personally).

screen-shot-2016-09-14-at-10-04-03-am

Have you ever heard of ANYTHING like that before?

The closest thing I can recall to hearing something like this is was when there was a woman in Planet Fitness who was told she was “too intimidating”. And she should put a shirt on because others were “complaining”.

I have lived in dress codes my whole life, starting from 2nd grade Catholic school all the way up to my senior year of high school at a Prep school, & do you know what I realized about them? They are almost always secretly directed at girls. 

I cannot tell you how many times I got in trouble for something being “too short” or “too tight” (not in an x-rated way either, but like semi-form fitting/above the knee), not because it was preventing my ability to learn, but it was because allegedly others around me couldn’t learn. My developing pre-teen body was too distracting for them, so I was shamed & embarrassed into covering up.

It’s an interesting paradox in a society that is obsessed with the hypersexalization of teenage girls, shaming & policing them to suddenly cover up their bodies. Or what? Horny pubescent classmates may get distracted? A full grown teacher might fantasize about them? Someone might call them a derogatory name..or worse? Welcome to Rape Culture 101. 

My main issue with dress codes are not that they exist, of course there are clothes for different times & places (duh, don’t wear flip flops at the gym!), however, when they are so incredibly blown out of proportion & disguised as something else. 

When you’re concerned about a girl’s collar bone, you miiight have gone too far.

At first, I honestly thought this article was saying no such gym clothes could be worn as class attire. And that, even as an anti-strict dress code person, made sense to me.

But this dress code is not for an academic setting–it’s for an athletic one. 

The gym was one of my favorite places at RWU. It was, quite literally, a place where I felt comfortable & safe. A place I could escape the stresses of college for a bit in a healthy way. I would put my headphones in, zone out & let the endorphins take me away.

I could care less what anyone around me was doing, I was not there for that. 

My biggest issue with this dress code is, like Catholic schools disguise their sexism with “concerns for a female’s ability to learn”, RWU is disguising their bias with “hygienic concerns”.

News flash: a gym is a FILTHY place.

A ton of people use them & get their germs & sweat all over everything. Solution: clean up after yourself. That gym has SEVERAL sanitizer stations with paper towels. Problem solved.

Nope.

Because this rule really has no concern for sanitation. It was created to inadvertently institute yet ANOTHER space on campus where the women of RWU can be judged for their bodies.

Because that doesn’t already happen enough at class (“That outfit is too distracting for class”), at the cafeteria (the dining hall entrance is a catwalk for judgement & shit talking & you know it) or at parties (“But what was she wearing? What a slut.“). Now it has to happen in the gym too?

In a place where women feel like they FINALLY have a space to relax & not feel judged, they can literally be tapped on the shoulder by a 5 foot tall man with awful frosted tips asking them to cover up their shoulder blades.

And that is absolutely wrong.

Because ladies, I don’t know about you, but just going to the gym is a struggle.

Being brave enough to enter that testosterone filled room without make-up & in sweats is courageous. And if you dare to ever step foot over to the male dominated weight/lifting side of the room, be prepared to have ever single eye on you.

I’ve done it. For four years.

And I did it in visible sports bras, tank tops with back cut outs & the dreaded yoga pants (wow, men at this school REALLY have an affinity for those don’t they?!) & guess what: no one died. 

No one crushed themselves with a weight at my distracting shoulders, & no one died from a virus my sweaty back passed along.

Everyone was fine.

And you know who was even better? Me. Because I was being healthy. I was coming to the gym focusing on reps & weights, not my outfit. (But new gym clothes totally make you feel fierce & strong & improve your workout 100x more too!)

Now I’m not sure what I would do if I was a current female student at RWU.

Hmm, probably do a lot more laundry, that’s for sure, since I’d be forced to wear baggy unflattering t-shirts every day to the gym that make me sweat more & make an already severely body-conscious girl want to look at herself in the mirror mid-workout a whole lot less.

To be quite honest, I would probably end up going to the gym a whole lot less.

Because I wouldn’t feel as safe anymore. 

I would feel like I was being watched & monitored throughout my workout. And if someone came up to me while I was at the height of an adrenalin rush to make a scene about my clothes in front of the entire gym–let’s just say, it wouldn’t be pretty.

Because just like I would have preferred to stay in class for a lecture, but was interrupted because of the rivets on my pants–I would really like to focus on improving my treadmill mile time without an adult male telling me that my outfit isn’t his idea of what a woman like me should be wearing.

You may notice that there is a small ‘men’s section” of this dress code. Ignore that, it’s fluff. Because you’ll also notice men cannot have their entire chest exposed, however, the woman standing next to him cannot have any type of (even modest) cleavage exposed. So run along now, Menanists.

————————————-

If you’ve been following my blog, you know I absolutely LOVE Roger Williams University, but looking back on it, there were a lot of pros & cons. And the cons had nothing to do with what people wore at the gym.

But since it seems like they’re suddenly sooo concerned with making changes, here, let me give you some topics to start with…

-Serves “Black History Month” food aka: fried chicken, mac & cheese, corn bread, etc. in February to a student body where only 2.6% identify as African American. I don’t even have time to explain how wrong that is.

-Instituted “mandatory bag checks” for the freshman dorm, a place where ambulances frequent on weekends to take away students with alcohol poisoning.

-Racial/homophobic hate crimes happen EVERY SINGLE YEAR & I’m wondering if anyone has ever done a study on campus rapes/date rapes too, because I’m pretty sure those are being handled just like you’d expect

-Has incredibly harsh penalties for assumed drinking by the power-hungry RAs. TWICE I have been fined & penalized when others were drinking around me but I wasn’t. Once when I was age 21+

-Has a “frozen tuition” nearing $50,000 (yes, that’s what I paid A YEAR for university, to all my awestruck international friends out there)  & treats this like it’s a blessing to the student body. You wonder why your diversity lacks, huh?

I love Rog with all my heart, but today, after seeing this dress code, I am very ashamed to be a hawk.

JG

**Also please watch this wonderful video I posted earlier this week to reiterate my point! The live footage is especially shocking**

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