#Monday14septembre is the hashtag created by middle and high school students, in France, to denounce sexist clothing rules in their schools. On Monday, September 14th 2020, a movement of girls and women this hashtag launched who organised themselves to go to school wearing what could be perceived as “provocative,” according to patriarchal rules. It all began on tik tok, where female students complained about clothing constraints at school. These include the prohibition of wearing shorts, crop tops, low-cut neckline etc. The students posted pictures of their outfits on tik tok and other social media explaining how they had been sanctioned or the remarks they received.
In France, the rules about the students’ outfits at school are not precise therefore open to interpretation by each school. One of the problems is that they often hide discriminative norms. It is not rare to hear that girls should wear “decent” outfits because they would distract the boys otherwise. In that sense, boys will not study properly if girls are wearing clothes which are seen as too sexy or provocative. In addition, it is a means to avoid problems with “protecting” girls from harassment. This way, they can be free of responsibility.
This practice is a paternalistic way of encouraging girls to internalise and reproduce the sexist clothing norms of society instead of educating boys. These standards are assimilated by young girls, making them less comfortable showing their skin, because they anticipate the looks and the judgements about the length of their clothes. In addition, this makes room for other types of discrimination as well: Muslim girls who are not allowed to wear a headscarf in class are stigmatised at school because of wearing a headband or a skirt seen as too long, they will be judged. The main problem is that school is a sort of mini-society where very young people learn how to interact with each other. It means that what the students are learning at school will later be applied in their future. It is the perpetuation of sexist norms on the younger generations. Therefore, schools are the place where everything should be rethought, rebuilt and reinvented to allow future generations to live in a less discriminatory world.
In response, the French minister of education, Jean-Michel Blanquer declared that students should wear a “normal outfit” and everything would go well. Nevertheless, when the norms are patriarchal it is problematic to use the term “normal”. This revolutionary act by the students defied the sexist rules and was a hard punch to patriarchy. People are afraid of what they do not know and what breaks the status quo, it is easier for everyone if they would stay silent but they did not. He also asked students to wear a “republican” outfit, which provoked a lot of replies from feminists who took humoristic pictures of themselves wearing something that looked like the famous denuded Marianne symbol, emblem of the French Republic.