The boys of class 9B wanted to wear dresses for their school photo, but they soon found out that their crossdressing wasn’t allowed. Now they are demanding an apology for not being able to wear women’s clothing, but their headmaster is holding surprisingly strong in his anti “gender fluid” position. The story has made headlines and upset both children and adults in Sweden.
Crossing the line
On the day of the school photo shoot, a class of ninth graders (15 and 16 years old) in the town of Ronneby decided to mix things up a bit. While the boys came wearing dresses, the girls wore jeans, shirts, and bow ties.
However, an employee intervened and told the children to change their outfits. Otherwise their photo would be replaced by a blank page in the catalogue. The students did as they were told, but first took pictures of themselves with a mobile phone.
Tuva Jarleberg, one of the girls wearing male clothing that day, had this to say to Swedish public service radio:
I think that it was very wrong because we talk a lot about equality and hbtq in our school, and we support that.
She said that the children wearing outfits typical of the opposite sex, was at first not meant as a serious statement of any kind.
First we saw it as a fun thing to do, to change roles in the school photo.
But when they were told to change back to their normal clothes and, allegedly, that “boys can’t wear dresses,” they wanted to send a message about “hbtq, equality and stuff like that.”
Demanding an apology
Now Tuva Jarleberg wants the school to apologize and admit that what they did was wrong. But the principal, Rickard Andersson, said that he and his staff have nothing to apologize for.
We don’t want them to be dressed up or using the school catalogue for political or other types of manifestations.
According to him, the school cannot have students wearing anything other than their regular outfits in the photo. That’s because the police and other authorities might need the picture to identify students.
If our students go to one of the other schools and start trouble, we want to know who those students are.
The principal also noted that there is an opportunity for students to dress any way they like, be it in a humorous way or to send a political message, for another photo that is taken before the end of the fall semester.
He stressed that the children can dress pretty much any way they like during school hours.
If a boy had come to the school wearing a dress on weekdays he would have been allowed to wear that also on the school photo.
A feminist shares her insight
Filmmaker Ninja Thyberg, who has made several movies on the topic of gender roles, was invited to Sveriges Radio to have her say on the story. She took issue with how people are “socialized into the different binary gender categories.”
We dress up, we mimic. It’s a masquerade, what we wear. We are not men and women, we become them.
She also said that some children at that age might want to experiment and wear clothes and hairstyles out of the ordinary.
So I think this sounds like a very fun, good and progressive initiative by the students.
Ninja Thyberg commented on how it is often acceptable for women to wear men’s clothing and cut their hair short, thereby looking more strict and professional. But when men wear women’s clothing they become the subject of mockery.
A dress is more decorative, it accentuates the body. It shows more clearly that the outfit is made to enhance you as an object.
Boys will be boys
A lot can be said about this story. But let’s focus on how misguided these kids’ attempt at making a statement was.
Ninja Thyberg speaks out against the ridiculing of men in dresses. But if she looked at the photos taken by the teenagers, she would see that the boys are obviously fooling around.
In the photos they are striking awkward, sexual poses and making faces for the camera. Not one of them tries to look comfortable and content in their skimpy outfits. In regards to the girls, some of them are laying on the ground with one hand on the groin.
The message they are sending is not that it’s fine to dress like a woman if you’re a man. It’s that if you do so you look silly. A man in a dress is silly, and they know it. Their little photo coup won’t change that.
Furthermore, a woman grabbing her crotch is obscene and would not be tolerated in, for instance, a workplace environment. If these girls really wanted to help women succeed in society, and be treated the same way as men, they would dress sharply while posing in a more dignified manner.
What is most ironic is that these kids don’t actually dress this way regularly. While claiming that a man wearing a dress is perfectly normal, they would never do it themselves. If they did so on a regular basis, no one would have questioned why they dressed that same way for the school photo.
While these youngsters still have a lot to learn, they’re perceptive enough to understand that women look good in certain types of clothes, and men in other. That’s why they normally wear clothes fitting for their gender.
Their reason for dressing up was at first to have a laugh at each others’ expense. Then it became an excuse to appear in newspapers, radio and TV shows, showing how noble and tolerant (and, of course, brave) this young generation is.
Children gone awry
What is frightening is that these kids will soon grow up to be the principals, politicians, and CEO’s of Sweden. A whole generation of social justice warriors, bent on making transgenderism mainstream and questioning the very idea of there being an actual difference between men and women.
Even if you’re a person who wants kids to be able to express themselves in their own way, there’s a case to be made for the principal’s decision. He did the right thing by enforcing the rules of conduct and not letting the students play dress up for the school photo.
There’s a time and place for everything. Now might be a good time to start teaching children (and a particular feminist filmmaker) about the very real differences between the sexes, and why our different bodies make us dress differently.