A New Zealand high school has been blasted by social media users for instructing its female students to lower their skirt hemlines because they were “distracting” for male teachers.
A group of 40 Year 11 students at Henderson High School in Auckland were summoned to a meeting by deputy principal Cherith Telford, who said their skirts would need to be lowered to knee length in order to “keep our girls safe, stop boys from getting ideas and create a good work environment for male staff”.
“Basically we were told that the skirts needed to be lowered to below our knees or we would be given detention after school,” Henderson student Sade Tuttle told Newshub.
Ms Telford’s remarks attracted a backlash from social media users who argued it was men’s responsibility to not be “distracted” by women’s sexuality, and that the focus on women’s skirt hemlines played into a culture of “victim blaming”.
But American singer-songwriter Erykah Badu sparked a heated debate on Twitter after admitting she agreed with Henderson High School’s new policy because men were by nature “attracted to women of child-bearing age” and society had a “responsibility to protect young ladies”.
“I agreed because I am aware that we live in a sex-driven society,” Ms Badu tweeted.
“It is everyone’s, male and female’s, responsibility to protect young ladies … one way to protect youth is to remind them we are all sexual in nature and as they grow and develop it is natural to attract men.”
Ms Badu continued: “It is not [young women] who are doing anything wrong by being beautiful and attractive, but with such imbalance in our society it is smart to be aware and awake. Men and women both go thru cycles of arousal. Men automatically are attracted to women of child-bearing age.”