An opinion piece in the Washington Post co-authored by a concerned mother and her oppressed daughter is filled with the sort of dramatic language that makes one cringe. The hot topic they’re covering is how dress codes at schools are hindering self-expression. Like nude cover girl and derrière fetishist Kim Kardashian’s recent announcement that she’ll be giving a lecture on the objectification of women, these ladies seem a bit confused about the true meaning of women’s rights and what oppression really looks like.

Chronicling the hardship of finding clothes that fit within the school dress code, the ladies write (now is a good time to grab a tissue):

She slides the shorts low on her waist and hunches up her shoulders to make her arms shorter. What she was demonstrating for me was how she and her female friends had developed tactics to evade and resist the dress code at their school. She is one of the millions of girls across the U.S. who have to figure out to express their sense of self through their clothes while coping with oppressive rules about what they allowed to wear to school.

In addition to being a showpiece of the type of first world problems only a wealthy, white woman would understand, this op-ed misses the far broader and more important issue related to schools limiting self expression. There are good reasons for dress codes that infringe on a student’s “right” to show too much flesh; far more troubling is that today it is de rigueur for schools to set limits on true expression, through speech codes.

Consider how universities are now limiting speech that can “trigger” bad feelings, how Condoleezza Rice was disinvited to be the commencement speaker at Rutgers University because of her statements on the Iraq war, and Brandeis University’s appalling treatment of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, herself a victim of genital mutilation, which reneged on its offer to award her an honorary degree because of her criticism of Islam. Radical feminists at Georgetown University and Oberlin University tried in vain to cancel a lecture by scholar Christina Hoff Sommers then proceeded to accuse her of engaging in hate speech for discussing the term “rape culture.”

These are examples of shutting down free expression worthy of an opinion piece in the Washington Post.

Yet, writers Charlotte Canning and Frances Schwentker think sending a young girl home from prom for wearing “too revealing” and “too low cut” dresses amounts to oppression and suggest gender intolerance is what motivates these harsh dress codes. They write, “While the occasional young man is cited for a dress code violation, the focus of these codes fall overwhelmingly on young women” and claim prom season is when these confrontations about dress codes really increase.

Now, I could be wrong—I don’t have a teenage daughter so my experience with such things is a bit dated (when I went to prom, I wore a dress that would today be mistaken for a North Face parka)—but today it seems young girls try to imitate what they see young Hollywood stars wear on the red carpet. Yet, when it comes to prom attire for young men, boys seem less inclined to deviate from the standard black tie formula of a (usually rented) tux or suit and a bow tie. Those scrotum-revealing pants popular in Iceland just haven’t caught on . . . yet. But when they do, will Canning and Schwentker rush to the defense of the boys wearing them?

Probably not. Canning and Schwentker don’t think revealing clothing choices have anything to do with it. Instead, they claim isolating women for these dress codes are the result of society holding “Dark Ages views of women as lusty temptresses distracting the men around them.”

Well, okay, maybe, except for the fact that in the Dark Ages, these bizarre notions about women’s sexual power were largely based on the belief in magic and witchcraft. I agree that in 850 A.D., a woman strutting around town half naked might have gotten into some hot water (literally, she might have been boiled alive), yet having codes of conduct and asking young women to view school as a place to learn not a nightclub is hardly medieval torture.

The delusional accusations of victimhood and gender bias continue with Canning and Schwentker claiming that:

“The justification for [these dress codes] is so it doesn’t distract people from learning. Obviously, they mean boys. So, according to school systems nationwide, girls should be taken out of class, or sent home, and miss learning, so that boys can focus. My daughter is getting the message loud and clear that her education is secondary to that of boys, and that her body exists solely as a sexual object.”

This paragraph reveals the writers’ dishonesty on the subject. There’s an easy way for her daughter to avoid being denied her school time: Dress appropriately so you don’t get sent home.

And Canning ought to consider what’s really behind her daughter’s desire to violate the school dress code. Is Canning really going to deny that girls want to look provocative and feel sexy?

Of course that’s what’s behind the impulse. And there is nothing wrong with that. It’s quite normal for teenagers to rebel, test limits, and experiment with styles so that they look more adult.

If a teenage girl’s desire to look more grown up is reasonable, it’s also reasonable for schools to set limits and expect parents (that’s you, Canning) to guide kids to behave appropriately in certain settings. It’s called manners and being a civilized human being. At one time (probably back in the Dark Ages), parents saw teaching these concepts to their offspring as a duty.

If Canning really wanted to help her daughter, she would provide her with some simple guidance on when it’s appropriate to dress sexy. Here’s a guide for Canning—school and church: No. When you’re 21 and at a nightclub: Yes.

Canning and her daughter claim the school is just looking out for the boys, but it’s a legitimate issue for schools to consider. The reality is that high-school aged boys are likely to be distracted by girls who dress in sexy clothing. They should be in an environment that is conducive to learning, and that right is more important than any purported right to wear a half-shirt.

Something tells me Canning and Schwentker don’t really care about what’s fair to boys. After all, hormones are just another part of the patriarchy, sister!