Raybon Kan is an award-winning stand-up comedian

Raybon Kan: Catholic school students wake up to wrong farce

It seems the principal wants to avoid girls turning up like model Bella Hadid at Cannes. Photo / AP
It seems the principal wants to avoid girls turning up like model Bella Hadid at Cannes. Photo / AP

Dearly beloved: there's a petition to challenge the dress code for this year's school ball at St Dominic's Catholic College, a girls' high school in West Auckland.

The dress code, imposed by the principal, is immaculately detailed.

There shall be no cleavage. (Bosomliness shall only be hinted at, for example, through allegory.)

A split on the dress shall go only up to the knee.

To clarify, whereupon the dress is torn asunder, let no man set his eye upon the thigh.

As we all remember from the Bible: "The skin on the shin, ain't no sin; but the quad or the glute, that's disrepute."

I doubt I'm the only person who saw that red dress at this year's Cannes film festival. The split went up to the kidney. The model looked ready for anything, including a sudden forceps delivery, or indeed, a hip replacement.

Besides, what did Jesus' mother wear to her school ball? I doubt the skirt showed any leg at all. I'm sure the hems were low in Bethlehem, if only to be sunsmart.

To continue with St Dominic's: the back of the dress shall not go below the armpit. (Personally, I find this rule quite confronting. I doubt any of the young ladies at St Dominic's have armpits. Armpits are what tradesmen have. Ladies, especially well-brought up ladies, have an inner-shoulder-sanctum, a safe space where beads of perspiration can dance in mutual support.)

Blessedly, the dress code continues. I was almost hoping there'd be 10 rules, the way Moses likes his mnemonics, but it only goes to five. That way, you can remember the rules on one hand, while the other hand is kept chaste inside a demure glove, or a thermal mitten.

A girl may not bring a date unless they're in a serious relationship. I'm a little rusty on the rules of Catholicism, but I assume a serious relationship means the girl must attend the ball freshly pregnant.

For the sake of feminism, however, she may be pregnant at the ball, but not barefoot. Shoes, no matter how uncomfortable, may not be removed. Fair enough: the walk of shame shouldn't really start until after the afterball.

So those are the rules.

What gets me is that this petition is trying to negotiate with a Catholic girls' school, as if the dress code on ball night is the most absurd thing this school takes for gospel. (Spoiler: I'm not religious.)

I find it ridiculous that people try to modernise religion. Religions are about obedience, not independent thought. The kneeling is a clue. These religions are ancient. If there's an ancient God who made up the rules, those rules don't change because times change, or because you sign a petition. Changing times just mean there's more people breaking those rules. If you find some of it doesn't make sense to you, take the hint. The door is in your head.

It's obvious the Catholic Church is run by men. The best a woman can aspire to is to give birth as a virgin, or to be a nun, which is a bit like aspiring to be the cleaner. So, don't be surprised that a school that embraces these beliefs has other problems with generally thinking things through and making sense. Sexism is in the DNA. You can't show up at a Star Wars convention as Lieutenant Uhura. This is not how religion works. Logic is not just irrelevant; it's blasphemy or apostasy.

When it comes to the school ball, the principal, like the Pope, is infallible. And you can't doubt that a Catholic school knows about dresses. Look at what priests wear.

It's not up to St Dominic's to get with the times and let every girl show up at the ball dressed as Miley Cyrus. By being a Catholic school, they've planted their flag squarely in the 2nd century. Join or quit.

Not meaning to create mischief, but I'd like to see some boys show up at the ball dressed as Jesus. Do sandals count as formal wear? Now that would give the bouncers a dilemma.

- NZ Herald

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Raybon Kan is an award-winning stand-up comedian

Raybon Kan's books of humour include ‘America on 5 Bullets a Day’ and ‘An Asian at my Table’. Before comedy, he graduated with honours in law and his legal research was published in the New Zealand Law Journal. His TV work includes a documentary in which he trained to be a casino croupier. He once held his breath for 3 minutes and 50 seconds. Visit RaybonKan.com

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