Knee Socks and Libraries: The Sexualisation of Educated Women


The academic year is about to start in earnest, and along with all the lecture schedules, seminar timetables and module specs that descend on us with the autumn leaves, come the arrangements for welcoming the new students. Predictably enough, one of the clubs in the city where I work is holding a “Back To School” fancy dress party. It’s a bit depressing. Not because the students will just have spent a week being told that they’ve just taken a giant leap away from their school careers. Nor because there’s anything wrong with dressing up in foolish outfits for frivolous purposes (The basis, after all, of much of Restoration theatre.)

But clubs asking female students to dress up as caricature “schoolgirls” is a depressing prospect, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it plays into a really creepy tendency of our media and society to equate sexiness with being young and powerless…

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