On Dress Codes and Body Autonomy versus Community Health.

Back early in the pandemic when people were fighting mask mandates there were two things happening. 1) The anti-maskers were bogarting the Reproductive Choice slogan “my body my choice” and 2) The pro-maskers were snarking about, “Look who cares about body autonomy now!”

Basically – both sides were trying to connect the two issues in a way that worked to their favor.

Sort of.

I didn’t love the angle my side kept taking because…here’s the thing…there’s actually not much of an overlap between the two issues and it’s important that no one correlate the two. Here’s the thing…if I’m pro-reproductive choice and pro-mask and I snark to the anti-maskers: “Oh? You don’t like having your body policed now do you?” What is my goal with that snark? I mean…what if they suddenly see the two connected and go, “Oh…okay…you’re right…it is okay to police my body, I’ll wear the mask.”

The two issues are not the same at all. One is a community health issue, one is a body autonomy issue.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate good snark, but I don’t love connecting unrelated issues for the same of a seemingly good joke.

Why do I bring this up now? Is it because the anti-mask debate is back again?

Eh. Honestly? No.

It’s about dress codes.

There was some major dress code drama at my daughter’s school this past week. I’m not going to get into the details but let’s just say we’re still in the middle of a fight about it and a push to remedy it. I’ve been posting about it to my social media and I’ve been in communication with school officials about it.

And so…of course…I’ve had dozens of people bring the story of the Tennessee Mom to my attention. Her school was allowing kids to opt out of the mask mandate and she said. “In light of the opt-out option related to the recently announce mask mandate, I can only assume that parents are now in a position to pick and choose the school policies to which their child should be subject,” and continue to say her daughter would not be following dress code now.

Here’s the thing though.

I want a mask mandate (which my school has) but I also want to opt out of a dress code and I do not think the two things are even remotely similar. I don’t think the school having different policies around masks and dress codes would be hypocrisy. If they said YES to mask mandates and NO to dress codes (which is my perfect scenario), that’s not a double standard to me, so saying it is when it’s the other way around kinda removes my ability to argue for what I actually want.

The mom is right, dress codes are ridiculous and I’ve been saying the same thing about my daughter’s dress code. This was my post on instagram.

But all of this is true no matter what the policy is on masks.

Whereas masks are simply about community health. To me, the two issues are not the same at all once you dig below the surface and if we try to coorelate them when it seems in our favor, then what happens when our argument is turned around. What happens if the anti-mask parents say, “Oh. Okay. I want a dress code so I guess I’ll keep masks too.”

Connecting the mask debate to issues around body autonomy makes it easy for snarking commentary and memes and signs on BOTH sides but…here’s the thing…masks were never about body autonomy. The similar issues is anti-smoking laws. Not reproductive choice or dress codes. Masks are a community health issue, not an issue around body autonomy or personal freedoms.

I agree with that Mom 100% about dress codes, I just don’t agree with her connection to that and mask mandates. Mask mandates are honestly a community health issue. I want a mask mandate, but I also want my daughter to be able to wear shorts in the summer time. I want there to be a so-called “double standard” at my kid’s school. Because I don’t actually think it’s a double standard. They are separate standards about separate issues and as someone in the trenches fighting the dress code but VERY glad my school has a mask mandate…I do NOT want the issues connected in a way that backfires on my goals for my kids.