It's time to stop policing women's clothing and start raising our expectations of men.

When it comes to what we wear, women can't win.

There was a time in our history when a woman showing her ankles in public was considered whorish. That sounds extreme and ridiculous now, of course, but the same mindset that compelled women to wear floor-length, chin-high dresses—that men are basically animals with limited self-control—is still alive and well.

We see it in school dress codes that disallow off-the-shoulder shirts because shoulders are too sexy for boys to handle. We see it in op-eds about how leggings are causing boys and men to stumble. We see it in debates over exactly how many inches a skirt length or tank top strap needs to be in order to be considered modest enough to rescue boys and men from the abyss of lust and temptation.


The fact that humans engage in such debates while simultaneously sexualizing women to sell just about everything is a perplexing paradox. The fact that bikinis and burqas are both icons of objectification is an equally confusing conundrum. And since everything between those extremes is subjective, we slip into a sea of unanswerable questions: How much skin is too much skin? How much of a woman's leg is acceptable to see in public? Are shoulders and collarbones too sexy? How about knees and ankles?

We emerge with no answers, but one clear conclusion: Women can't win, no matter what we wear. Is it possible that our clothing is not the problem?

We have plenty of examples of men separating women's clothing from their sexual impulses, so the idea that men simply can't help themselves when they see skin is bunk.

The way some people talk, you'd think that men have zero control over how they see a woman. If her shirt shows a centimeter too much cleavage, or if her pants hug a curve a little too tightly, it's all over for the poor, helpless dude.

But is that always the case? For the folks who have an issue with leggings—have you ever seen a woman bobsledder or speed skater in the Olympics? They wear skin tight outfits that show every single curve in their bodies. But somehow I've never seen men ogling speed skaters as a habit, nor have I seen women complaining that bobsledding outfits are causing their sons/husbands/brothers to think impure thoughts.

Why? Because men are not beasts, incapable of compartmentalizing and contextualizing what they're looking at.

Is it possible that some men watch figure skating in order to look at women in skimpy leotards? Sure. Do some men watch women's swimming events just to see the women's bodies in their suits? Maybe. But my guess is not many do. Most men recognize that the outfit and the body parts it might reveal are secondary to the feats the woman is performing on the ice or in the water, so they compartmentalize accordingly.

How is that possible? Because it's not about what women are wearing.

When we make women responsible for men's thoughts, we do a disservice to both women and men.

It is grossly unfair to tell girls that they are responsible for the thoughts of the boys around them—but that's the message they get when we tell them their clothes are a "distraction." And boys get the message, too. What do we expect to happen when we tell boys that their sexual thoughts can't be helped and are caused by a girl's clothing choice?

We’re still having to fight the erroneous idea that women and girls “ask” to be raped by the way they dress. While there's a place for discussing clothing as an element of how we present ourselves to the world, as soon as we put blame on women because boys and men can't control themselves, we are on the wrong path.

We've got to stop selling the idea that men are helpless slaves to their sex drives, because it's simply not true. Yes, sexual thoughts happen. Yes, you might see things that turn you on. But being human means rising above animal instincts. You have the ability to shift your gaze. You are capable of choosing how you view someone. We all have to manage our thoughts and exercise self-control, and the only person responsible for what's happening inside your head is you.

Responsibility for men's thoughts and actions should not be placed on women's shoulders. Ever.

Besides, if women were to stop wearing everything that might have a chance of turning on a man, we’d be back to the era of chin-high, floor-length dresses again. And even then, some men would still objectify women. Because it's not about what women wear and never has been.

It's long past time we start start raising society's expectations of men instead of focusing on women's clothing.

Pexels / Julia M Cameron
True

In the last 20 years, the internet has become almost as essential as water or air. Every day, many of us wake up and check it for the news, sports, work, and social media. We log on from our phones, our computers, even our watches. It's a luxury so often taken for granted. With the COVID-19 pandemic, as many now work from home and children are going to school online, home access is a more critical service than ever before.

On the flip side, some 3.6 billion people live without affordable access to the internet. This digital divide — which has only widened over the past 20 years — has worsened wealth inequality within countries, divided developed and developing economies and intensified the global gender gap. It has allowed new billionaires to rise, and contributed to keeping billions of others in poverty.

In the US, lack of internet access at home prevents nearly one in five teens from finishing their homework. One third of households with school-age children and income below $30,000 don't have internet in their homes, with Black and Hispanic households particularly affected.

The United Nations is working to highlight the costs of the digital divide and to rapidly close it. In September 2019, for example, the UN's International Telecommunication Union and UNICEF launched Giga, an initiative aimed at connecting every school and every child to the internet by 2030.

Closing digital inequity gaps also remains a top priority for the UN Secretary-General. His office recently released a new Roadmap for Digital Cooperation. The UN Foundation has been supporting both this work, and the High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation co-chaired by Melinda Gates and Jack Ma, which made a series of recommendations to ensure all people are connected, respected, and protected in the digital age. Civil society, technologists and communications companies, such as Verizon, played a critical role in informing those consultations. In addition, the UN Foundation houses the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL), which advances digital inclusion through streamlining technology, unlocking markets and accelerating digitally enabled services as it works to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Keep Reading Show less

We Americans are an interesting bunch. We cherish our independence. We love our rugged individualism. Despite having pride in our system of government, we really don't like government telling us what to do.

Since rebellion is literally how we were founded, it's sort of baked into our national identity. But it doesn't always serve us well. Especially when we find ourselves in a global pandemic.

Individualism—at least the "I do what I want, when I want" idea—is the antithesis of what is needed to keep contagious disease under control. More than anything in my memory, the coronavirus pandemic has tested our nation's ability to put up a united front, and so far we are failing miserably.

I hear a lot of the same complaints from people who decry government mandates to wear a mask or governors' stay-at-home orders. We don't need a nanny state telling us what we can and can't do! This is tyranny! This is dictatorship! What ever happened to personal responsibility?

I actually have the same question. What did happen to personal responsibility?

Keep Reading Show less
True

This year, we've all experienced a little more stress and anxiety. This is especially true for youth facing homelessness, like Megan and Lionel. Enter Covenant House, an international organization that helps transform and save the lives of more than a million homeless, runaway, and trafficked young people.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is Delivering Smiles this holiday season by donating essential items and fulfilling AmazonSmile Charity Lists for organizations, like Covenant House, that have been impacted this year more than ever. Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a charity of your choice or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your selected charity.

Sometimes it seems like social media is too full of trolls and misinformation to justify its continued existence, but then something comes along that makes it all worth it.

Apparently, a song many of us have never heard of shot to the top of the charts in Italy in 1972 for the most intriguing reason. The song, written and performed by Adriano Celentano and is called "Prisencolinensinainciusol" which means...well, nothing. It's gibberish. In fact, the entire song is nonsense lyrics made to sound like English, and oddly, it does.

Occasionally, you can hear what sounds like a real word or phrase here and there—"eyes" and "color balls died" and "alright" a few times, for example—but it mostly just sounds like English without actually being English. It's like an auditory illusion and it does some super trippy things to your brain to listen to it.

Plus the video someone shared to go with it is fantastic. It's gone crazy viral because how could it not.

Keep Reading Show less
via Becker1999 / Flickr and Price and Sons

One of the major themes that arose out of World War II was how America's national character helped propel the Allies to victory over the Axis powers. Americans came together and sacrificed by either picking up a rifle and heading "over there" or on the homefront, they did whatever they could to help the war effort.

They bought bonds. They turned their businesses into factories. They rationed items such as meat, dairy, fruits, shortening, cars, firewood, and gasoline.

After living through nine months of COVID-19, one wonders whether today's Americans would be adult enough to make the sacrifices necessary to win such a war.

Keep Reading Show less