A school dress code article for men to understand

Let me begin by telling you I’m a Mazda driver. I have a CX-5, or what I call “an armoured couch.” Driving an SUV is great. We are big. We own the road. Everywhere you look from highway to town, you’ll find an SUV driver. Not all are Mazda drivers like I am, but we rule the road. People commute in SUVs. People drive their kids to school in SUVs. We are the drivers who you know you can trust to be professional and dependable. So that’s me.

I became a Mazda driver more or less by fluke. I wanted a new car a few years ago and I was drawn to the dealership by the Mazda Miata sitting in the window. I love the look of the Miata. I always have and I’m not even remotely kidding when I say I used to have a picture of a Miata on my fridge. It was a deep robin’s egg blue and I wanted it. It was my dream car, and if I’m honest, it still is. So when I saw the Miata in the show room window, I turned my car around (another SUV, but not a Mazda) and drove onto the lot.

When the salesman approached, I was practically draped over the hood of the Miata. I was in love, though even I had to admit it was a bit of a bad fit for me. I was the driver of a teen who did sports. The Miata would have to wait, though to be perfectly clear, I knew that car was as close to an automobile soulmate as I was going to get. But I had driven to the dealership in a car that belched oil and had a terrifying metallic rattle when I drove. I left the Miata behind and pointed to the CX-5. And that was that.

Have you ever noticed that when you really want something, you begin to see it everywhere? That’s me and the Mazda Miata. It doesn’t matter if I’m driving up island for a meeting or commuting to work. It is pretty much a guarantee that I will see a Miata. Sometimes I see one in that deep robin’s egg blue and my mind is cast back to the picture on my fridge. Frankly, it’s a bit distracting.

And that is where things go wrong. I’m a safe, dependable driver and I’m constantly being forced to share the road with Miatas. For the most part it’s fine and I don’t have any issue with Miatas being on the same commute with me. But watching them dart in and out of traffic, showing off, is a bit much. It’s like, look, I get it. You’re a zippy little Mazda race car and you can really move when you want, but commuting drives are not for rapid lane changes just because you can. Get in line behind me and stop distracting me from being a safe driver.

And speaking of distracting, have you ever seen a Miata with the top down? I have. I mean [wolf whistle], how could you not stare? It’s warm weather right now and it seems like every Miata has the top down. Talk about distracting, right? Here I am, a safe, dependable SUV driver, doing my commuting thing, and yet I’m still expected to focus on the road when a Miata driver throws the soft top back and suddenly the interior is open for all to gawk at. Literally no one wants to see your leather seats, babe. Kindly put the top back up. How in the world am I supposed to drive safely when I have Miatas flaunting their roll bars at me?

And don’t even get me started on hard tops. Those things are the bomb. But again, top up, please. You have to share the road. It’s not much to ask. If you’re going to share the road, do not be distracting, and if you don’t have the decency to get that, then stay off the highway before someone gets hurt. And yes, I am talking to you, deep robin’s egg Miata. You know exactly what I mean. One of these days one is going to drive past someone with your top down and that will be the end of them. They’ll end up wrapped around a telephone pole and whose fault will that be?

Whose fault indeed?

Because, we are talking about my responsibilities as a driver, it is a ridiculous argument. Of course it’s the responsibility of ever driver to focus on the road. No one would ever think differently, especially the insurance company if I had to explain to them how the accident wasn’t my fault, it was that Miata two cars ahead. The police would not nod sagely, exchanging knowing glances because they get how distracting a Miata can be. Lawmakers would not work on my behalf to support me in weeding out Miatas or applying rules about whether or not they can drive with their top down on sunny days. Because when we talk about cars, while we get how distracting a pretty car can be, we are each held accountable for our driving record.

So why are the rules different for girls in a classroom?

There is infinite talk around dress codes in schools, something which I find puritanical and a little frightening because they rarely apply to boys in the same way they apply to girls. As girl after girl is pulled from her classroom for shorts too short, jeans ripped above the knee (my friend’s daughter had this happen this week), and tank tops too, uh, tank toppish, the message is clear: boys cannot be expected to study with girls around. It’s a throwback to when girls had to fight to be in the classroom. Sure, girls can be there, but don’t distract the boys from their studying. They actually need their education.

So what’s really going on?

Well, curiously, what seems to be missing from the argument is the outcry of classroom boys. Having just spent their summer at the lake, the beach, and the mall with these same girls wearing considerably less, the boys don’t seem to be all bent out of shape because the soccer camp girls are wearing shorts that aren’t fingertip length to gym class. Actually, they seem to be focussed on soccer. Go figure. Does that mean they aren’t madly all crushing on each other? Of course not. But it’s not the soccer shorts making everyone move towards their first relationships. It’s youth. And it’s normal.

And to be clear, the girls are looking at the boys, too. And some of the boys are looking at the boys. There’s a lot going on in those young minds that has nothing to do with whether or not there’s a ripped jean in the picture. If you’re not sure what a distracted boy looks like, drive a muscle car into the parking lot outside the math classroom window.

I get school dress codes. I do. There’s an image schools want to project. But if they are really committed to that image, then provide a school uniform. Otherwise, all they are doing is preventing children from developing their own identity and their own expression of who they are.

I really do like Miatas. I really did have a picture of one on my fridge. And nonetheless, I, like every other driver, take responsibility for my driving. If pretty cars on the road don’t provide me a reasonable excuse to drive poorly, then pretty girls in the classroom can’t be an excuse for boys to perform poorly.

PS: If someone from Mazda reads this, I’d be happy to accept a Miata in return for the blog post