A viral TikTok video is giving hope to women and girls everywhere for showing a number of high school boys in crop tops, a type of clothing typically worn by those of the female gender, in an explicit protest of a sexist district dress code that says girls can’t wear them, but doesn’t explicitly prohibit them on dudes. The original video, which has now been set to private, can still be seen in a “duet” post on TikTok in which a woman praises the boys for pushing for a better world for her potential future children.
“This is what I’m talking about when I tell people that Gen Z is creating a world that I will be comfortable birthing a daughter into, or a son into,” says Solvej Wren. “Thanks guys, your moms are really proud of you.”
The original video shows multiple high school boys in shirts that show off their stomachs and, in some cases, also their chests with a caption that does not mince words when it comes to messages.
“Dress code can lick my nuts,” it reads.
The TikTok user and student who originally posted the video, 17-year-old Mason Boudreau, told the Daily Dot that he organized the protest at the College Heights Secondary School in British Columbia, using social media to call on his fellow male students to participate. He was inspired by the school’s pattern of punishing his female classmates for the most ridiculous violations.
“Girls at my high school just got dress coded for the dumbest reasons,” he said, “like ripped jeans or a rip too high or wearing leggings.”
The boy cut up old shirts or borrowed clothes from sisters and friends to participate, and successfully showed the policy to be sexist by walking around school all day like that without much more than a glance from administrators.
“There was probably about 15 of us… and none of us got sent home. And we walked past the principals and they wouldn’t really do much. It was really weird to see.”
One boy reportedly got notified of a violation because his shirt had “spaghetti straps,” but otherwise the shoulders and stomachs of boys somehow proved to be much less distracting than those of girls, at least to the adult staff, which says a lot, doesn’t it?
Dress codes like this have often been called out in the past for punishing girls, often to the point of denying them education by sending them home, for wearing certain clothing for the reason that it could “distract” boys or even adult male teachers and administrators. Feminists and supporters have long argued that the onus should not be on underage girls to have to think about what might “distract” their fellow students or creepy adults who probably should not be working around children. Rather, the focus should be on teaching boys and men not to harass people.
Much of the time it has been girls in middle and high schools who have to protest these kinds of dress codes, often doing so after one of their own has been unfairly punished for a violation, but it’s always great to see boys exploiting the hypocrisy and absurdity of these rules in order to make a point.
Similar protests against sexist dress codes have worked in the past. One such protest was highlighted by the ACLU in 2018 and occurred at the Indian Trail High School in Kenosha, Wisconsin. According to former student Victoria Schantz, the student-run Women’s Empowerment Club attended several school board meetings, presented testimony from girls who had missed tests over dress code violations, and obtained over one thousand signatures on a petition to overturn the policy.
“I also testified about experiencing male teachers looking me up and down and commenting on my body or clothing choices in front of my classmates, which I find degrading and revolting,” wrote Schantz. “As I told the school board, teachers enforcing the dress code against me and my female classmates made us feel more like objects than human beings.”
The students ultimately won the battle and the board voted to change the policy. So far Boudreau has not announced that there has been a policy change at College Heights, but if there isn’t in the future, they might just have to do it again.