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Godly Gertrude and the Harding University Dress Code

Godly Gertrude

This graphic perfectly illustrates the puritanical culture found in many Evangelical churches. Women are considered lust magnets, sure to attract weak, pathetic Christian men who have little control over their sexual desires. Starting with primary school age, females are taught to never, ever expose any of the sexual parts of their bodies–breasts, cleavage, bare shoulders, legs, and ass. In other words, girls and women are expected to dress similar to burka-wearing Muslims. The only difference is the head covering.

This kind of thinking robs Evangelical girls and women of any sense of self-worth. Like pornographers, modesty Nazis reduce females to commodities that must be protected and hidden until it is time to put them on the (marriage) market.

The most astounding fact about this picture is that it comes from Harding University — a Churches of Christ-affiliated institution. It is hard to imagine — in the twenty-first century — grown women willingly submitting themselves to this kind of male-driven body control. Yet countless young women attend Evangelical colleges and universities that have rules which govern virtually every aspect of their lives. Such control would be impossible without women being indoctrinated as young children and teenagers by pastors, Sunday school teachers, youth leaders, and parents.

Just remember girls. Regardless of what you think, IT’S THE RULES.


Harding University Dress Code 2015-2016

harding university dress code 2003-2004
Harding University Dress Code 2003-2004
Uplift Camp Dress Code — Summer Youth Camp held (and sponsored) at Harding University (Note that the majority of the rules apply only to women.)

Youth ministers and sponsors are responsible for their group (adults included) complying with the dress code for Uplift.  You should have a meeting with all participants and make sure they understand the dress code BEFORE they pack for Uplift. The dress code will be enforced. If you have students or adults who are out of dress code, we will come to you or a sponsor to address the issue. If there are offenses while at Uplift, it will be your responsibility to see that all in your group meet dress code. You may need to take your campers to Walmart, Goodwill, etc. to find suitable clothing.

  • All clothing must have sleeves (guys and girls). Sleeveless clothing is not allowed under any circumstances, even recreation time. This includes sundresses, tank tops, sleeveless blouses, athletic shirts, and cut-off T-shirts.
  • No visible midriffs. Clothing that exposes any part of the mid-section when standing, sitting or bending over is not allowed. All tops should be long enough to be tucked in.
  • Shorts must be fingertip length at least when standing straight, arms to the side. This is measured from the shortest part of the shorts. Nike-style running shorts are not allowed, even if they are long enough.
  • Skirts and dresses must come down to the top of the knee.
  • Skin-tight or otherwise revealing clothing is not allowed. Low-cut shirts, spandex, tight jeans, halter tops, etc. are not acceptable. Leggings do not count as pants. If your outfit is against dress code without leggings, it is against dress code with them.

Shocker!! Harding University has students who are gay. Students operate a site called  HU Queer Press: The State of the Gay — “a self-published zine that aims to give voice to the experiences of gay and lesbian students at Harding.”



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    My best friend’s (as a kid) brother attended a Church of Christ college, they wouldn’t even allow boys and girls to hold hands on campus.

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    One must necesarily have suffered considerable brainwashing, abuse, to subject themselves to such utterly depraved ideas of dress or undress. The people who put these ideas together to impose on young people are unbalanced bullies who claim that they are justified by faith in Jesus. Save me from ever falling into the pit of faith again! Save me from allowing myself to be demeaned and degraded, cajoled and abused by holy monsters who believe the book. What a crock of shit. I am so sorry for the poor students still under the spell….

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      Amy Hendricks

      Oh, please. Just because someone believes differently than you doesn’t mean they have been abused (that is insulting to the parents and the students) or are unbalanced monsters (generalizing without any proof whatsoever is a little erratic, wouldn’t you say?). Let’s all try to be a little more tolerant, shall we?

      • Avatar
        Bruce Gerencser

        Actually, I have lots of proof. I spent most of my adult life in the Evangelical church. I also pastored Evangelical churches for 25 years. Shall we compare notes?

        This dress code is a reflection of the underlying Fundamentalist theological beliefs. Such beliefs are psychologically harmful, often leading to persobal, marital, and social dysfunction.

        Tolerant? Not a chance.

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          Amy Hendricks

          I think this is very amusing as I’m about to spend a week at Harding. Looking for their dress code is actually how your site came up. Thanks for that, by the way. Theirs is actually a much more lenient dress code than the one in place at my high school. Why is the dress code for a public high school so strict? Professionalism. Supposedly, places of learning prepare students for the workforce. Does anyone show up for a job dressed in anything other than businesswear? I hope not.

          • Avatar
            Bruce Gerencser

            You really should educate yourself about the Fundamentalist sect associated with this school. The dress code has nothing to do with dressing professionally. It’s all about Puritanical morality and making sure that unmarried adults aren’t “tempted” to have sex.

            Harding’s student handbook states:

            All members of the Harding community are expected to maintain standards of modesty and decency in dress appropriate to the Christian lifestyle and consistent with professional employment expectations. For these reasons, students are expected to adhere to an established dress code. Additional standards of dress may be required by certain academic or extracurricular programs.

            I find it Interesting that you focused on the professional part, but ignored the “dress appropriate to the Christian lifestyle.” You can find the student handbook here:


            Harding is decidedly an Evangelical institution. Their rules are not as stringent as some Evangelical schools, so kudos to them for not being as Fundamentalist as some denomination controlled schools.

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    Growing up a Campbellite, this post is a sort of strange, comforting memory. The truth is, HU’s current dress code is actually quite “progressive” compared to the code(s) which were attempted to be imparted on me in the 80’s.

    I was told, many times, that boys should never wear shorts, long hair, earrings, muscle-shirts, etc.–the standard fare. (There were no girls so *that* wasn’t a high-priority issue in my youth group.) It went so far as to chide us for playing high school sports, since it required us to wear shorts, tight football pants, or wrestling singlets (which were a huge no-no due to the exposure of the male genitalia). Anywho…

    There really wasn’t any brainwashing, at least not as intensely as what I found at my friends’ IFB and Pentacostal churches. It was mostly fear-based cajoling, fear of hellfire and judgement from all the old folks at church. The theology was the same, though: we (boys and girls) were nothing but sexual objects to be controlled.

    It was heavily suggested that I attend one of the church schools–Harding, Abilene, Oklahoma, Lubbock–and not one of those evil state schools where they allow coeds to run around nude and cohabitate in the dorms. In every case, the dress codes were part of the recruiting process, mostly for parents. The dress codes were Machiavellian at the time. Compared to then, even Harding allows coeds to run around nude, now.

    Good times.

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    These rigid dress codes are the product of a deep-seated fear of sexuality and the body (especially sexist fear of the female body). It’s the mark of people (mainly sexist men) who aren’t at peace with their own bodies or their own feelings.

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      That Other Jean

      Fundamentalist Jesus might have long hair, but actual Jesus, if there was such a person, probably didn’t. There was a TV program and a number of articles a few years ago looking at hairstyles, body types, height, and facial features of skeletons from Jews of 1st Century Palestine, which came up with a composite picture of a typical male of Jesus’ day. Not the picture we’re used to, but undoubtedly a lot more accurate than long-haired, blue-eyed, white Jesus:

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    Yes, I know – I have a copy of that face in my files, but it doesn’t look Nordic enough to satisfy most Fundies – it looks too (Fundies shudder) Jewish

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    Matt Martin

    Oy. The queer zine! It reminds me of when I was a young fag in 1980s. I must confess I’ve never been able to figure out queer christians. They really need to read the fine print.

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    I give them points for progressing far enough to allow earrings for guys and nose studs for men and women! That’s way farther than my fundigelical school ever went. I can’t figure out what “unusual” clothing might be, though. Does that mean my uber-modest sari? Or just something that some random administrator finds to distracting in its uniqueness?

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Bruce Gerencser