Bro Tank Censorship Belies Deeper Issues

During the summer of 2015, the University of Central Florida began cracking down on a loosely enforced dress code policy at their Recreation and Wellness Center gym.

In a comical turn of events–especially when compared to the draconian dress code standards imposed upon women throughout educational institutions–UCF prohibited men from wearing the ever-popular bro tank.

On the RWC website, UCF asserts that gym-goers must wear shirts and tanks which, “cover the lower back, front and sides of the torso,” and further clarify that, “shirts that are manufactured or altered to expose the abdominal area or ribcage are not considered appropriate.”

The university’s fraternities and sororities rallied against the policy, calling it, “a direct attack,” according to a contributor at Total Frat Move.

Bro tanks are far from evil; while they do exist as a glaringly obvious loophole to the shirt requirement, UCF may save itself an entire heap of drama by providing some context as to why these shirts were banned in the first place.

Hygiene concerns may have played a significant role in the enactment of this rule, but most likely UCF made the decision based on their own code of moral standards.

The implementation of this policy, however, speaks to a larger issue than simply banning fraternity brothers from wearing their preferred and revealing athletic attire.

This affair presents a perfect example of what happens when previously untroubled fraternity brothers experience a stringent restriction long understood by their female counterparts: an irrational attack on physical expression.

When the boys realized the mounting discrimination they were about to face for wearing string tank tops, they fought back online, and were applauded for doing so.

Unfortunately, many women find their dress code concerns met with criticism and a lack of interest.

Back in August of 2015, a mother in Kentucky shared the story of her daughter, who was sent to the high school principal for exposing her collarbones.

The mother voiced frustrations regarding the school’s problematic dress code policy, under which girls were prohibited from showing their collarbones in fear that they might, “distract their male class mates.”

Around the same time in Illinois, a group of high school girls created an online protest page to remove a ban on sundresses and sleeveless outfits.

“Schools should be teaching boys not to think of girls as sexual objects.” they argued, insisting that their arms and shoulders would not pose a threat to the education of male classmates.

These circumstances occur across the country, in elementary, middle, and high schools, where girls are shamed for expressing their personal style. It’s all committed in the name of “protection”; a semblance of order to protect the delicate sensibilities of male students.

“The dress code policy is conducive to the district as well as the students. It’s unfortunate that some parents and students don’t adhere to this policy,” said a representative of the school, asserting that the regulation would not change despite outcry over the situation.

The women protesting these clothing bans utilize common sense and logic in their arguments, but are repeatedly shot down by supposedly well-meaning administrators.All the while, schools continue enforcing clothing bans which directly contradict the idea that they are acting in the best interest of students.

They fail to consider, however, students in warmer states (like Florida) who prefer to wear sleeveless outfits in order to avoid heat stroke and excessive sweating.

Fair play to the men at UCF rallying for their rights to wear barely-there shirts while they pump iron, who only wish to feel free in expressing their own personal style. They are fighting for what many believe to be a human right, though their intentions muddy the logic and purity of the argument.

The examples from Kentucky and Illinois lend to the argument that if the majority of dress code scandals involved the limitation of men’s rights, they would result in far more outcry and change.

“We’re open to editing things,” RWC Associate Director Gary Cahen said less than 24 hours after the initial negative response, proving that a group of men throwing temper tantrums will always inspire swift action.

Feature image courtesy of flickr user Puparrazi Photography.

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