After attending a school assembly about girls’ skirt lengths, a teen in Australia gave a perfect speech to some of her classmates.
Faith Sobotker, a 15-year-old student at Kambrya College, told The Huffington Post that her school required girls from year seven to year 10 to attend an assembly on Aug. 18. According to Sobotker, a vice principal told the students that it wasn’t “ladylike” to wear their skirts “so short,” and that wearing said skirts the way the female students do showed that they had “no self-respect or integrity.”
After the assembly ended, Sobotker shared her thoughts on the assembly with her peers, which her friend caught on camera. In the video, which has been viewed more than 297,000 times on Daily Life’s Facebook, Sobotker perfectly captured the absurdity of shaming girls for the length of their skirts.
“People know that I have legs, I have knees, I have thighs, OK?” she said.
The teen also noted that “we don’t live in the ‘50s anymore” and addressed the damage that can be done to young women by focusing so much on what they wear.
“I’m looking for equality,” she said. “I’m looking for being able to show off my body without being sexualized. I am 15 years old. You do not get to sexualize me like that.”
In a statement to The Huffington Post, Kambrya College principal Michael Muscat said the assembly focused on the school’s “existing uniform policy” and that the “recent exploitation of girls online” and the assembly were not linked. Muscat also said as far as the school knows, none of Kambrya College’s students were affected by the “porn ring.”
Scroll down to see the school’s statement in full.
Whatever the reason for the assembly, Sobotker is “sick of the sexism.” She told HuffPost that what sparked her response to the assembly was the assumption that she and her classmates wore their skirts for the boys, and that wearing an item of clothing a certain way determined their self-respect.
In her speech, she stressed that she doesn’t want these sexist outlooks to affect how girls view their bodies:
“I do not want these girls to be growing up in a society where they need to believe that their body [has] ... to be a certain way, because they can be however they want to be,” she said. “They can be however makes them comfortable and confident.”
UPDATE ― 8/25:
After reaching out for comment, The Huffington Post received this statement from Kambrya College principal Michael Muscat (emphasis in original statement):
Last week we held an assembly where we talked to students about sexting, social media and respect.
We chose to separate boys and girls and different years to create smaller groups and encourage open dialogue. We also took this opportunity to remind students of our existing uniform policy which was finalised last year after consultation with staff, students and parents.
I want to be clear here and say that in no way did we suggest that what girls wear makes harassment or abuse acceptable. This is never the case.
The enforcement of our uniform policy and the abuse and the recent exploitation of girls online are separate issues and should be treated as such.
In public discussion about these two issues at Kambrya College they have, however, become linked. We regret this. It was never our intention that this should occur.
Kambrya College strives to be a highly inclusive school in every respect. As part of this we run respectful relationships education which seeks to tackle gender stereotypes, sexism and violence against women.
As far as we know none of our students were affected by the pornographic website which came to prominence last week, but they had all heard about it and we wanted to set their minds at rest.