Earlier this month, two girls who attend the private school Greenwood College were followed on the subway by a man who looked up their skirts. Police in Toronto are looking for the suspect and in the meantime, an officer advised that perverts can be kept at bay if kids don't wear their uniforms on public transportation. As our tipster snarks, "clearly SlutWalk made a difference for the cops and their consciousness around gender."
As you'll recall, the entire SlutWalk movement was sparked by a Toronto police officer who told law school students, "women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized." Yet now we have more Toronto officials suggesting to girls that what they choose to wear will determine whether or not they're sexually harassed. Actually, the students don't really have a choice about wearing their uniforms to school, so if girls are now required to change into skirts in the locker room every morning, it's just a penalty for being female.
After consulting with police officers, Allan Hardy, the school's principal, conveyed their recommendations to students in an email. The Toronto Sun reports that he wrote:
"Students, especially females, should consider not wearing their school uniform when riding the TTC ... This person was looking up the girls' skirts ... So the advice is given... if they had, for example, jeans or sweatpants on, it wouldn't be an issue."
Following complaints, police said their comments had been taken out of context. Const. Wendy Drummond said the remarks weren't sexist because,
"My understanding of the advice that was given from the officer is that it did not specify a skirt ... The officer was explaining to the principal that for students, not just girls, that a uniform provides a lot of information to people that you might not realize. Now we've got kids in public, broadcasting where they're going to school, what route they're taking to school. The advice given was for the protection of the students. It was not meant to be anything other than advice."
Whether it was the police or the principal, at some point girls got the message that what they wear can invite an attack. As Monica Bugajski of Sympatico.ca News puts it, "the skirts are not the issue, and the girls are not the issue. The issue is the pervert." She lists a few tips from the group Stop Street Harassment about what students can do if the man targets them again, like loudly identifying the perpetrator and telling him to step away, or intervening if they see someone else being hassled. But why teach young people that they have the power to stand up for themselves and those around them when it's so easy to tell them to stop slutting it up in their school uniforms?
Girls In Private School Uniforms Harassed On TTC [Toronto Sun]
Police Respond To Officer's School Uniform Advice [CBC News]
Police Advise Girls Not To Wear School Uniform Skirts On Public Transit [Sympatico.ca]
Image via Jonnystockphoto/Shutterstock.