Note: we’re protesting (tokes and togs)

Sometimes you have to remind people that what you’re doing is against the rules.

Yesterday advocates for legal access to medical marijuana rallied in downtown Los Angeles to protest a threatened crackdown on marijuana dispensaries.  People with a prescription for marijuana can get it legally in California–but not in the United States.  Threatened federal enforcement of drug laws brought patients into the streets, some self-medicating.

The smoking might not have generated attention absent the placards and chants.  Demonstrators needed to alert authorities–and the rest of us–that they were in fact protesting, not just smoking.

There’s a similar story from New York’s prestigious public exam school, Stuyvesant High.  Principal Stanley Teitel reminded students that Stuyvesant would enforce a new dress code as summer in the city approached:

Guidelines for appropriate dress include the following:
• Sayings and illustrations on clothing should be in good taste.
• Shoulders, undergarments, midriffs and lower backs should
not be exposed.
• The length of shorts, dresses and skirts should extend below
the fingertips with the arms straight at your side.

While Principal Teitel wanted to prevent students from being unduly distracted from their studies, students were, unsurprisingly, unsympathetic.  (See Emma Lichtenstein’s reporting in the student paper.)  Some thought that Stuyvesant students really didn’t dress inappropriately anyway, while others thought the dress code targeted girls–because boys were more easily distracted.

So students organized “Slutty Wednesdays” as an effort to redress the dress code.  Students wore specifically inappropriate clothing.  (Apparently, some had to change into banned clothing at school, preferring other attire when walking out the door or riding the subway.)

Mostly, students donned shorts and tank tops.  Administrators didn’t respond, although one teacher noted that he often saw students dressed more provocatively on non-protest days.  Scholarly and serious, Stuyvesant’s students proved more adept at organizing than in finding attire that really irritated anyone.

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About David S. Meyer

Author and professor of Sociology and Political Science at the University of California, Irvine
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