Sam changes her mind about gyms and dress codes

​ Last week the student newspaper called me looking for a quote from an outraged feminist. The problem is, they didn’t want me. I wasn’t feeling particularly outraged about the issue in question which concerned the dress code of our student gym.

I posted the following to Facebook, “The student gym is apparently asking women to leave and change if they’re wearing crop tops. They have a no bare mid riffs policy. Men have to wear shirts. Student newspaper wants to know what I think. Can’t say I see a problem with this if it’s enforced for everyone. Am I missing something? They’re allowed to have a dress code. What’s wrong with this one?”

I guess I was missing something. Fifty comments later I realized the issue wss pretty controversial. After talking lots with friends, I changed my mind.

Luckily the student reporter called me back. You read the story here.

Here’s an excerpt:

The dress policy has sparked conversation amongst both students and professors on campus. Samantha Brennan, professor of women’s studies and feminist research and philosophy shared her thoughts on the dress policy.

“My original thought was [that] as long as it’s gender neutral and gender neutrally applied there isn’t a particularly feminist objection to having a dress code. Twenty-four hours later, after hearing all of my friends’ outrage at the idea of a dress code, I did begin to wonder what the point of a dress code is,” Brennan said.

“If it’s simply to make other people feel comfortable, I’m not sure we should have a dress code. I think probably people should just decide for themselves what they want to wear to the gym and if you don’t want to look you shouldn’t look.”

The one argument in favour of the dress code that I thought had some merit came from my daughter, Mallory. She worried that university gym isn’t like a commercial gym. All students are members and can’t choose to take their money and membership elsewhere. So she thinks a dress code might be okay at the university fitness centre as a compromise that makes the most number of people feel welcome.

Lots of skin covered but you can’t wear this to my university’s fitness centre

What are your thoughts on gym dress codes? What does your ideal dress code forbid, allow? What principles guide your choices? 

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