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.

True

Anne Hebert, a marketing writer living in Austin, TX, jokes that her closest friends think that her hobby is "low-key harassment for social good". She authors a website devoted entirely to People Doing Good Things. She's hosted a yearly canned food drive with up to 150 people stopping by to donate, resulting in hundreds of pounds of donations to take to the food bank for the past decade.

"I try to share info in a positive way that gives people hope and makes them aware of solutions or things they can do to try to make the world a little better," she said.

For now, she's encouraging people through a barrage of persistent, informative, and entertaining emails with one goal in mind: getting people to VOTE. The thing about emailing people and talking about politics, according to Hebert, is to catch their attention—which is how lice got involved.

"When my kids were in elementary school, I was class parent for a year, which meant I had to send the emails to the other parents. As I've learned over the years, a good intro will trick your audience into reading the rest of the email. In fact, another parent told me that my emails always stood out, especially the one that started: 'We need volunteers for the Valentine's Party...oh, and LICE.'"

Hebert isn't working with a specific organization. She is simply trying to motivate others to find ways to plug in to help get out the vote.

Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

Keep Reading Show less

Yesterday I was perusing comments on an Upworthy article about Joe Biden comforting the son of a Parkland shooting victim and immediately had flashbacks to the lead-up of the 2016 election. In describing former vice President Biden, some commenters were using the words "criminal," "corrupt," and "pedophile—exactly the same words people used to describe Hillary Clinton in 2016.

I remember being baffled that so many people were so convinced of Clinton's evil schemes that they genuinely saw the documented serial liar and cheat that she was running against as the lesser of two evils. I mean, sure, if you believe that a career politician had spent years being paid off by powerful people and was trafficking children to suck their blood in her free time, just about anything looks like a better alternative.

But none of that was true.

It's been four years and Hillary Clinton has been found guilty of exactly none of the criminal activity she was being accused of. Trump spent every campaign rally leading chants of "Lock her up!" under the guise that she was going to go to jail after the election. He's been president for nearly four years now, and where is Clinton? Not in jail—she's comfy at home, occasionally trolling Trump on Twitter and doing podcasts.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

Empathy. Compassion. Heart-to-heart human connection. These qualities of leadership may not be flashy or loud, but they speak volumes when we see them in action.

A clip of Joe Biden is going viral because it reminds us what that kind of leadership looks like. The video shows a key moment at a memorial service for Chris Hixon, the athletic director at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018. Hixon had attempted to disarm the gunman who went on a shooting spree at the school, killing 17 people—including Hixon—and injuring 17 more.

Biden asked who Hixon's parents were as the clip begins, and is directed to his right. Hixon's wife introduces herself, and Biden says, "God love you." As he starts to walk away, a voice off-camera says something and Biden immediately turns around. The voice came from Hixon's son, Corey, and the moments that followed are what have people feeling all their feelings.

Keep Reading Show less
True

*Upworthy may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through links on our site.

With the election quickly approaching, the importance of voting and sending in your ballot on time is essential. But there is another way you can vote everyday - by being intentional with each dollar you spend. Support companies and products that uphold your values and help create a more sustainable world. An easy move is swapping out everyday items that are often thrown away after one use or improperly disposed of.

Package Free Shop has created products to help fight climate change one cotton swab at a time! Founded by Lauren Singer, otherwise known as, "the girl with the jar" (she initially went viral for fitting 8 years of all of the waste she's created in one mason jar). Package Free is an ecosystem of brands on a mission to make the world less trashy.

Here are eight of our favorite everyday swaps:

1. Friendsheep Dryer Balls - Replace traditional dryer sheets with these dryer balls that are made without chemicals and conserve energy. Not only do these also reduce dry time by 20% but they're so cute and come in an assortment of patterns!

Package Free Shop

2. Last Swab - Replacement for single use plastic cotton swabs. Nearly 25.5 billion single use swabs are produced and discarded every year in the U.S., but not this one. It lasts up to 1,000 uses as it's able to be cleaned with soap and water. It also comes in a biodegradable, corn based case so you can use it on the go!

Keep Reading Show less