On air: Should women dress modestly?

It started with a proposed law in Nigeria, then a column in the UK and then a post from my WHYS colleague Fuchsia. For several days now you’ve been discussing women and the way they dress.

Should women be able to wear whatever they want? Or should they have to consider the affect their appearance can have on men, or people of certain faiths? Also, if they dress in an ‘immodest way’ are they promoting the inappropriate sexualisation of our public appearances? And should the law in your country be used to control which clothes women do and don’t wear?

One of the most interesting things I read today was this piece in the British Guardian newspaper by Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It’s about the ‘indecent dressing bill’ that is currently before the Nigerian senate (or, to give it its full title, the ‘The Bill for an Act to Prohibit and Punish Public Nudity, Sexual Harassment and Other Related Offences in Nigeria’). It seeks to ban women from wearing miniskirts and other ‘indecent’ clothing.

Proponents of the bill say that banning women from wearing short skirts will help to prevent rape and reduce social immorality. But Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie argues it dehumanises women and makes them scapegoats for social problems, as well as insulting men by assuming that they are incapable of self-control if they catch sight of any female flesh.

The bill appears to be a hot topic in Nigeria. Check out the Alliances for Africa website opinion piece, or this piece on Pambazuka news.

It also resonates with similar debates all over the world – think of the view held by many Muslims that women should protect their modesty by wearing headscarves and clothing that obscures their figures.

Do you think society should tell women what to wear? Or should they be able to wear anything, no matter how provocative, and expect men to take full responsibility for curbing their sexual desires? What do you think constitutes sexually provocative clothing, anyway? Many people might agree that a women would be ill-advised to walk around late at night in a bikini – but what about a miniskirt? Or, in many cultures, an uncovered head?

If you’re a woman, how much responsibility should you take for the effect you have on men around you?

If you’re a man, do you feel insulted at the idea that you can’t control your desires? Or do you think a woman who dresses attractively has only herself to blame for unwanted male attention?

196 Responses to “On air: Should women dress modestly?”

  1. 1 Brett
    April 2, 2008 at 16:30

    Do you think society should tell women what to wear?

    Absolutely not, it unfairly restricts the freedom of women to dress how they’d like.

    Or should they be able to wear anything, no matter how provocative, and expect men to take full responsibility for curbing their sexual desires?

    They should be allowed to wear whatever they like. But women, if you walk around with a low cut top, push-up bra, your midriff showing, and sparse clothing elsewhere, don’t be upset when people (men or women) look at you in the places you have uncovered and sticking out. If you want attention, it is certainly a way to get it. But don’t then complain about that same attention you dress for.

    What do you think constitutes sexually provocative clothing, anyway? Many people might agree that a women would be ill-advised to walk around late at night in a bikini – but what about a miniskirt? Or, in many cultures, an uncovered head?

    The determination of what constitutes sexually provocative clothing will no doubt be dictated largely by culture or religion.
    Let women and men wear whatever they like. And both men and women need to take account for their actions. Just because someone may dress in a provocative mannar (male or female) does not mean that they are free game and especially that they want anything to do with you. Again, some just like the attention. Others will claim that dressing in a provocative mannar is simply fashion. Some will say it is because it is hot outside. Rarely will anyone admit that it is because they think they look good, are showing off, and want / need the attention that provocative dress brings.

    And to answer the last question, I fail to see how an uncovered head is sexually provocative. But again, that is just by my standards. Many people have many viewpoints.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  2. 2 Will Rhodes
    April 2, 2008 at 16:37

    I really don’t think I have read anything more ridiculous!

    If you had put this story up yesterday I would have taken it as an April Fools joke – but apparently not.

    What right has the state to tell people what to wear?

    I can see why it is beyond modesty to walk around in the nude on the high-street,but banning mini skirts?

    Good Lord – who are these people? The world is, really is finally turning into an asylum!

  3. 3 steve
    April 2, 2008 at 16:39

    If nigerians want this law, more power to them. Don’t forget in some western countries, there are policies/laws against islamic dress, like in French schools. I cannot see why anyone would object to covering up, so long as the person covering up is doing it by choice. However if women want to dress like street walkers in countries that allow it, more power to them also. However if France can ban islamic dress in schools, then Nigeria should be able to ban what it wants too. Something tells me it might actually positively affect women’s self esteem, rather than seeing the train wrecks what western girls become given they have thong panties at age 7, have sweatpants that say “juicy” on the seat, and basically look like prostitutes when they go out on Friday nights until they develop some self respect, which some never do.

  4. 4 Brett
    April 2, 2008 at 17:07

    Now to make it fair so as not to be sexually discriminant, males do the same thing for attention: Built males or males with tattoos will consistently wear wife-beaters or other revealing clothing to either show off their bodies or their body art at at higher rates than overweight or unfit and bland males.

    It goes both ways but since this post was about females only that is why I origionally highlighted female’s want and need for attention based on their mannar of dress.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  5. 5 VictorK
    April 2, 2008 at 17:10

    The question is framed too broadly.

    There are many societies and as many distinct social traditions. In a Muslim society it would be perfectly in order to impose a dress code on women, because that’s part of their tradition; in a Western society it would be preposterous to suggest such a thing, because our tradition treats women as equals, as sufficiently adult to be responsible for how they dress, and enjoying the fundamental liberty not to be dictated to by government in something that is entirely personal and falls entirely within the sphere of civil society. It is the worst kind of Western liberal cultural imperialism to treat a question like this as if it admitted only of a single answer, regardless of the actual cultural traditions of women in different parts of the world.

    But the true significance of this debate in Nigeria is that it is a society that has two incompatible traditions: Islam in the country’s north, and Christianity and animism in the south. This is a legacy of colonialism, which forced Africans with nothing at all in common to live within the borders of an artificial country created for the convenience not of Africans but of colonialists. What is proposed is, in effect, that Muslims should be able to impose their social traditions on non-Muslims. The proposed dress code, in the circumstances of a country like Nigeria, amounts to Islamic cultural and religious aggression disguised as a concern for modesty. Some of your listeners may recall that several northern Nigerian states unilaterally imposed sharia, despite the fact that Nigeria is supposed to be a secular state. Though these northern states all claimed that Sharia would apply to Muslims only (leaving aside the fact that in a supposedly secular society it shouldn’t have applied to anybody at all) it wasn’t long before Christians found themselves having to use public transport that was segregated by sex.

    This is simply another instance of the inability of Muslims to tolerate anything that is not Islamic and their parallel inability to grasp the meaning of diversity .

    Oh, yes – I almost forgot. Anybody who knows anything about Nigerian politicians knows that as well as being ultra-corrupt they generally maintain stables of girlfriends and mistresses on the proceeds of their loot of public funds. Recall how one of their former Presidents died in the arms of a couple of exotic prostitutes? African politicians continue to set the standard when it comes to make-believe (the pretence that the bill is anything other than a sop to Muslims’ sexual obsession and wish to impose their will on non-Muslims) and outright hypocrisy (some of the most sexually corrupt and sexually exploitative politicians on the face of the planet legislating against the indecent horror of mini skirts!).

    Now I’ve heard it all.

  6. 6 Trent West
    April 2, 2008 at 17:29

    The whole idea that somehow the way women dress is the reason why men behave in a certain way is absurd. I refuse to believe that the only reason I have not raped a few women in my life is because all the women I have met wear modest clothing. Come on, are kidding me? All this nonsense about the way women dress is men who are so afraid of the intellect of women that they want to keep them down by any means neccessary. I belief in the right of all human beings having a choice, a true choice. If a free woman decides to wear modest clothing I say more power to them, in the same way if another decides to wear a mini-skirt I say more power them also.
    One of my best friends growing up was a muslim. He insists that women should be modest in every way, but he as a man can do whatever he wants including sleeping with all kinds of women. This my friends is the mentality of modest dressing of women.

  7. 7 Janet T
    April 2, 2008 at 17:50

    In a perfect world anyone should be able to walk aeound naked and not fear crimes against their person.
    As humans we tend to have such hang ups about the naked body, still such puritanical notions- that covering up equals modesty. Sex crimes have very little to do with sex and more to do with violence and control issues. Eighty year old women get raped- do you think they were dresing too sexy around men while hanging out at the local bar?? This kind of thing drives me nuts- just another way to try to keep women oppressed- what are they really afraid of??

  8. 8 George USA
    April 2, 2008 at 17:51

    I worked in a town that had nudity on the beach.

    European women went topless.

    The surprising thing about this to me was the complete lack of excitement among the population, male or female.

    It was just ignored completely as if they were not topless,

    with one exception:

    Once in a while when a woman in her 60’s plus or very fat was parading around topless,

    someone would say she would do well to cloth herself.

  9. 9 Nge Valentine
    April 2, 2008 at 19:19

    The rate at which the world is evoluating, in negatif aspects rather than positif aspect, is un unmeasurable in our present time. The great danger to me is that we tend to what at first was abnormal for us to be normal in the world of today.
    I have never been convinced that women of today do dress for pleasure. What I know is that it is for seduction, the majority of women are so materialistique so much so that with such attitudes they could have at least a number of boy friends to satisfy their needs.
    I think the most precious thing humans should preserve is their dignity, if women want to keep this precious aspect of life, let them be concious of their acts and avoid such dressings. DO not give opportunity to the devil.
    During my stay here in the DR COngo, Lubumbashi/Katanga, I studied certain attitudes of you boys as to what regards this sexy dressing of you girls; Each time a girl passes besides a group of boys in such a mood, you realise this group of boys abandoning their conversation, a bit of silnce and each and every one of them contemplating the girl, someone just imagine’s his self already with the girl on bed… to me this is sexual harassment.

    “Woman, if you want your rights, keep your dignity”

  10. April 2, 2008 at 19:54

    To begin with, the question of whether a woman would be ill advised to walk around in a bikini at nights, I think, is not quite the issue. What a woman wears or not and how her actions are percieved to sexually impact those of men, as a result, comes down squarely to who controls women and their bodies in society? The level of access which is determined as ‘appropriate’, as a result, is a function of traditional patriarchal systems which seek to authorise male control and ownership of women and their resources. This is to the extent that, (sexual) desire is largely read as something that women “do” to men and not so much an organic and interactive process that, often, does not have these strict gendered boundaries, requirements and expectations, as they are constructed in the posing of the questions above.

    While, not explicitly sexist, the tone as representative of certain traditions of thinking, sees women as potential victims in danger of being attacked by men. Indeed, women are also sexually attacked by other women. Though not quite the point and the actual numbers are not known here, the efforts to nonetheless construct women as property which must be protected within the ambits of the law, as a result, reifies these traditions.

    A more useful approach, it would seem to me, is to advocate laws that penalise specific crimes/ abuses, including sexual ones, as part of a larger framework of human rights and justice. The answer, it seems, is to remove the proposal of the law altogether and focus on peoples’ human rights as a legal basis for supporting development in society.

  11. 11 Thomas Murray
    April 2, 2008 at 20:03

    This argument alone makes a very good case for the Muslim right to enforce their own dress codes — burkas, headscarves, etc. — in their own communities.

    In the west, we’re a bit looser. Here’s two recent cases where citizens went too far, both, oddly enough, took place on the same airline.

    On a Southwest Airline flight, a woman was asked to either leave the plane or wear a towel around her waist because her dress was too short. I don’t know the particulars, but there must have been an underwear issue (or the lack of one), because the skirts on female tennis players are the shortest in the world, and they are considered modest.

    On another Southwest flight a man was asked to leave the plane, wear an outer shirt, or remove his T-shirt and put on another one, because of the words printed across it. The message wasn’t obscene, but an double-entendre relating to being a master at baiting fishing line that I shall not repeat and that most foreign speakers won’t get anyway.

    What are the limits for American men?

    In college I took a life saving class in which I was paired with a very nice Iranian girl who wore a bikini to class. (This was the ’70s in Kentucky.)

    I remember she struggled at swimming, because every time she had to “save” her partner (me) I swallowed a large amount of chlorine-enhanced pool water.

    But one time she got out of the pool. She was winded, and didn’t realize that half her bikini top had been dragged down, exposing her right breast.

    Shocked, I got in front of her, raising my arms to shield the exposed bit of anatomy to view by out classmates, all the while saying, “Adjust yourself! Adjust yourself! Adjust yoursself.” All the while countinencing the facial expression of a sterm Imam.

    By the third “Adjust yourself,” she did. And the crisis was over.

    She had inadvertently passed the line of what most western men consider indecent.

    –Regards. Louisville, Kentucky, US.

  12. 12 Joop Kaashoek
    April 2, 2008 at 22:11

    Society should provide a safe environment for all its citizens and not punish women for the few criminal men who can nor control their urges. But then again, if all women would start parading around topless with oil on their skin all bets are off. So the bottom line is that in public some modesty is required to avoid problems.

  13. April 2, 2008 at 23:55

    I have never been outside the US except to Canada, so I don’t feel competent to comment on other cultures. But I do know that women get the blame for abuse and this seems to reinforce it. Are men that unable to control their sexual desires? Then why don’t we have laws about the men?

  14. 14 primal convoy in Japan
    April 3, 2008 at 02:31

    Any woman should be able to wear what she wants anywhere, and for that matter, so should men, but if we go by that ideology, then nudism should be perfectly acceptable in all spheres of society too. We should all be able to keep our doors unlocked when we leave home and also to keep our valuables on the table unattended while we nip to the toilet in a busy cafe too.

    However, human nature is unpredictable and thus we must always be on our guard. “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance”, to quote homas Jefferson.

    As a guy, I sometimes, I hate to say, feel intimidated by people, regardless of gender, who “push their hormones out there”. Be it in terms of overt aggression or by sheer sexuality, I feel a hormonal response (be it anger, fear or arousal) or at least start to contemplate it. Thus, the swaggering male braggart who heckles me in the street or the jail-bait girls you find at any night-spot you care to mention cause me to at least feel slightly intimidated.

    Now, like many of us here believe, there is NO excuse for rape in any form whatsoever. However, I myself feel, in a way, “reverse sexually abused” as if the wearer of the mini-skirt in question wants me to be interested. Its like a man wearing a t-shirt saying “wanna fight?”.

    Of course, our natures and society is a lot more complex than what I have typed above. People wear what is “comfortable” for them and most of us do not always think too much about the impact what we wear will have on others.

    However, although women should not be “made” to wear certain types of clothes (as, with the nudity idea above, the logical outcome of THIS way of thinking is perhaps the full body coverings that women are obligated to wear in so-called “fundamentalist” religious societies), I would really appreciate it, at times, if women thought a bit more about how us poor men feel when confronted by scantily clad women.

    That aside, I also have noticed that in Japan, home of the mini-skirted underage jail bait fantasy, most young women wear miniskirts..even in winter…in Hokkaido! Japanese women here wear so much “feminine”attire that many of us men here simply blot it out..to the extent that women sometimes find it hard to snag a man! A simple case of overkill, perhaps?

  15. April 3, 2008 at 03:46

    I rather doubt that the issue is whether women should be able to wear what they want, and more an exploration of why is this an issue in our postmodern, twenty-first century realities? Notwithstanding the Nigerian example, which itself is a casue for serious concern, language like, “women would be ill advised to go out at nights wearing bikinis…” somehow implies that it is a woman’s responsibility to control men’s sexual desires and not for men to exercise restraint. Sexual desire, in other words, is something that women “do” to men and not a process in which all peoples – males and females, females and females, males and males, as well as every other configuration in between experience, and often in numerous ways.

    Indeed, sexual attacks against women are also committed by other women, even children. What then? How do we treat with that reality? And, how does that factor into this discussion? After all, by not acknowledging the gender politics which would prompt the framing of this question in the way has been done above is to also miss how language sometimes reify the institutionalised politics of controlling certain groups of people in society, in this case women.

    Consequently, efforts to control women and their resources through, for instance, the mechanism of law; as well as how discussions like these are foregrounded are especially problematic, if not entirely worrisome. Among others, there is no acknowledgement that the control of women’s bodies by the state is but another way in which men, as a group, reinforce their power in society through moral and legislative means, as much as it is to create a class of human beings unable to decide for themselves the best course of action about their own welfare. The disempowerment of women – and all peoples for that matter, is largely faciliated by arguments which not only presume their lack of agency but proceed to advise as to what they should or should not be doing, when, how and where.

    Not only are women able to and should, if they so desire, wear bikinis at nights but also nun’s habits and anything else they wish, and at any other time of the day, to boot!…My too cents worth!

  16. 16 pendkar
    April 3, 2008 at 09:57

    This attempt to in Nigeria to forbid some kind of clothing is typical of a society that is incapable of cultivating among its male citizens a respect for the law and orderliness. It is a pathetic excuse. This happens in many countries, Nigeria is not to be singled out.

    That being so, a dress code is not a negetive thing to have.A loose dress code can be allowed to evolve by consensus.In an ideal world, women would not be told what they may and may not wear. But neither would they be dying to walk around semi naked. They would dress comfortably and sensibly, and their clothes would be a non-issue.

  17. April 3, 2008 at 10:55

    it is a good developement for we Nigerian expecially the male folks who are alway the victim of this immoral dressing by our girls and even women folks. For so long befor now many has been clamouring for and even in some states insouthern Nigeria some youths take the law into their hands by apprehending and disgracing any girl or women find in public places dressing seductively and i have been a witness to it, the result is that no girl comes out again on public showing 70% of her body. This devilish dressing has in recent times entered even in worship center wich is very disgracing. so i see it as a welcome development if our senate will approve the bill.

  18. April 3, 2008 at 11:42

    Hi to all of you my precious friends. As a practicing Muslim who wears a headscarf, my gold standard rule for life is what Allah has said in the Holy Quran ‘There’s no compulsion in religion’. Nobody should be able to tell women anywhere around the world what to wear. As for me, I chose to wear headscarf since I was eleven years old. Nobody at all had forced me to do that at the time. And right now I walk in the street raising my chin, so proud of what I am and what I wear. My choice of wearing modest clothes has made me love myself more and respect myself more. It’s such a shame that advertising and commercial media in many parts of the world have promoted a culture that concentrates more on the woman’s body rather than on the woman’s mind. If a woman has enough moral and cultural content inside herself, then she won’t need to wear disrespectful and shameless clothes in order to attract the eyes of what so called men (because a true noble man has to be really better than that). With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  19. 19 Team 1 Brazil
    April 3, 2008 at 12:06

    First of all, women must have the right to use whatever they want, and the society must discuss the real cause of this situation.

  20. 20 Team 2 Brazil
    April 3, 2008 at 12:14

    We don’t agree with the position of the government of Nigeria, because they are blaming the women for something that is a social problem. The government could create education programmes in order to reduce the problem.

  21. 21 Team 3 Brazil
    April 3, 2008 at 12:19

    We do not agree with the Nigerian bill. It is against women’s rights. They are the victims, not the problem. The people in Nigeria should take action to solve this problem, like social and health programmes, and forget the way women dress.

  22. April 3, 2008 at 13:59

    I believe yes. Women best know one major problem with men is their inability to control themselves in the face of a scantily clad lady and some of them are exploiting it to dress seductively and provoke them. Although some men are generally licencious no matter how a lady dresses, I think dressing in a modest manner is proper.

  23. April 3, 2008 at 15:17

    If kenya chooses to ban women from wearing mini skirts then i think they should also ban men from wearing string vests.

    When I travel outside the uk i will always respect the local customs for example not wearing bear shoulder in certain temples, and covering my hair in islamic countries. If i went to kenya i would also not wear a mini skirt if they passed this law.

    However i do think that to claim the mini skirt will stop prostitution and other social problems by removing tempation is a little bit far fetched. The georgians found ankle’s really sexually exciting which is women wore big hooped dressed, and why men wore knee high socks to show off their calves.

    I think if you remove the temptation from a mini skirt, over time the society will just adjust to finding a new part of the body attractive. I am not very well versed in how people flirt in islamic countries, but i understand from some of my muslim friends that the eyes of a woman in a burka are very attractive.

  24. 24 Royston Roberts
    April 3, 2008 at 16:33

    hi ros, let me repeat this point again, we are living in a modern world, making fass about dress code, when there are more partinent issues doesn’t make sense, think about the implication of limiting the clothing industry, check the unemployment, limited choice, scarcity, etc,etc, as for me i have two girl child, all i am impacting on them is pride, who they are, where they belong, and how they should portray their images, but by putting strigent enphasies on dress code, can be dangerous, because they might want to know why they are restricted from fashion, or attention, so all we should do is play the mind game, let them be able to discern and make positive decisions through our guidances.but making it a taboo, i see no sense.
    Royston Roberts
    Freetown, Sierra Leone

  25. 25 selena
    April 3, 2008 at 17:16

    No one should have the right to tell women how they should dress, unless everyone is told how to dress. Woman should not be singled out for special attention. Both men and women dress provocatively in the sex obsessed Western culture.

    However, that being said, I don’t feel comfortable exposing any part of myself. Even in summer, I wear long sleeved, high-necked tee shirts, and long pants. I don’t have a problem with the way anyone else dresses; I just feel better that way.

    But let me tell you a story: Last week my friend’s 10 year-old son asked his mother my age. His mother asked him why he wanted to know that. His answer, “She is a very good looking woman.”

    Disregarding that this comment came from a 10 year-old, which makes me wonder what he is being taught, it seems that one does not have to conform to societal norms to be considered good looking.

  26. 26 Ana Milena, Colombia
    April 3, 2008 at 18:41

    I think they’re making extreme decisions in countries like Nigeria.
    However, in Western society, I think women dressing modestly helps them not to become a sexual item.

    Cheers! 🙂

  27. 27 nathan
    April 3, 2008 at 18:59

    if a society feels the need for the regulation of indecency, and gives justification for such need and same is accepted i think that is okay.

  28. 28 savane
    April 3, 2008 at 20:09

    One of the most powerful stories I’ve heard is called “My short skirt”. It’s one of the monologues in Eve Ensler’s “Vagina Monologues”. Its message is very clear – my dress-sense is an extension of me – it’s a positive definition of me. If you interpret it differently/negatively, that’s your interpretation, don’t impose it on me. My dress sense is not an invitation to assault, rape, prosecute, ridicule or jail me. Needless to say, it’s considered one of the more outrageous monologues from a Kenyan perspective.

    In Kenya, women have been stripped naked, beaten or raped by men for wearing tight jeans, tank tops, leggings, and yet there are some ethnic groups in Kenya whose women’s traditional dress doesn’t include clothing from the waist up and it’s acceptable! And stranger still, walking topless on a Kenyan beach is a criminal offence.

    I believe in free expression of yourself, however, it’s important to be culturally sensitive. I’ve worn a burkha in Islamic countries and cover my head, legs and arms in my Muslim friends’ homes and functions, out of respect. I never wore trousers in front of my paternal Quaker grandmother, and I don’t wear them in front of my born-again Christian mother-in-law. Again, as my elders, dressing to their definition of decency is a cultural respect.

    I have two daughters, 11 and 6 years old. Buying the older one’s clothes is a nightmare. She has a 18-year old body and an 11-year old mind. Fashion targeted at her body size, is very form-fitting, low cut and/or short. I held a rather lonely demonstration last year against a department store that sells padded bras and undies with provocative messages, strategically placed, in the children’s department! Note I said “it sells” and my crusade was lonely, because parents who agreed with me were only willing to do so privately, not publically.

    I’ve noticed men looking at my baby lecherously and comment on her body shape (including some of my husband’s friends), and this mama has gone ‘loco’ on them! My daughter’s become self-conscious of her body shape, and she’ll go out of her way to avoid my husband’s friends who make her feel uncomfortable. I’m proud of her for telling me and her dad if she feels she’s been ‘visually assaulted’! She has classmates come to our home, and I’ve re-dressed to look like 11 year olds. I always ask, “What does your dress sense say about you? Do people interpret your dress sense in the same way you do? Are we giving you the reaction you want? Hey, it’s my house!! My rules!! I’m a benevolent dictator, and the ‘re-dressed’ girls still come to visit. Re-dressed of course, and not by me!

    When people use clothing as a justification for rape, my blood boils! It’s absurd! Rape is about power, not uncontrollable sexual attraction. The 4-month year old baby and the 80-year old grandmother, and everyone (male and female) in-between are NOT raped because of a low-riding diaper or a ‘granny dress’!

    Cultural respect must be given. Legislation for women’s clothing is hogwash! If governments want something to legislate, then make and enforce laws on sexual assault and rape. Do away with punitive punishment and inconsequential sentencing.

    Trust me on this one: 35 years ago, I was raped when I was 5-years old, and I was wearing Kenya’s Number One Ugliest School Uniform!
    It’s been a life-long sentence. There’s no ‘Get out of jail free’ card for rape survivors.

    Nairobi Kenya

  29. 29 kpellyhezekiah
    April 3, 2008 at 20:18

    I believe that everybody should be allowed to wear whatever one wants. But one should be prepared to face the consequencies of the effect that the dressing will bring. For instance, sex workers dress in a certain way to make people know who they are thereby attracting customers. Factory workers dress in working gears, doctors dress in a certain way, the clergy also in a certain way. So when one sees a person dressed in a particular way there is a general reaction from people around towards the dress code(unwritten though). Thus if one dresses like a roman catholic church pastor you should not be surprised if people call you ‘father’ although you might not be one. If you dress like a monk, don’t be surprised if people call you a buddist and treat you as such. If you dress like an Imam you should know that generally people will call you a muslim although you may be a christian. When you dress like a sex worker and people take you for that and start to behave towards you as such you should not be offended. I don’t subscribe to laws on and for dressing.
    What is indecent to one person may be perfectly decent to another. My problem is the complain people make especially ladies when they dress like sex workers and
    are treated as such by men. The issue of sexual harassment does not come in here because the dress code(and there is a dress code for every activity under the sun)suggests that. One only need to continually tell people that one is not in the category of persons that dress like that and so it is wrong in my opinion for people to be prosecuted for sexual harassment when their so-called victims by their dressing suggested that they were sex workers. For instance, when you were a mini-skirt and/ or a low neck cut blouse which exposes your tighs(sometimes even panties when you sit down) and your breasts or a see through blouse that shows you breasts in an office with males and they make passes at you, to me it is not sexual harassment. The onus lies on you to keep on reminding those males that you are not a sex worker since we all have a fair idea about the general dress code of sex workers. It is wrong to seek protection under the law in such circumstances. So people should be allowed to dress in any way they want but they should be prepared to face the effects of their dress codes personally.

  30. 30 George USA
    April 4, 2008 at 01:54

    The other day I saw an attractive woman who was smiling, gesturing, and moving totally within modesty by anyone’s standards,

    But this woman had to be one of the sexiest smiling, gesturing and moving women around.

    Some women exude something no one can put their finger on but no one misses it.

    Clothes do not make a lovely woman,

    lack of clothes do not make a sensual woman.

  31. 31 Laura Hughes
    April 4, 2008 at 04:41

    All I can do is reiterate comments, at this point. Regardless, I wanted to put in my two cents. The idea that rape and sexual assaults can be curbed by enforcing a nation-wide dress code is utterly ridiculous. It’s extremely insulting to men, and demeaning to women.

    I’ve never been to Africa, so i don’t know how most people dress. However, here in the states there exists a double standard. Guys can expose their underwear (sagging their jeans far below their waist) generally without comment, but girls can’t show a bra strap without a reprimand?

    I know of some cases in private schools, where girls are told to dress a certain way, as it “distracts the young men in class.”

    Again, in this case i think we’re selling male population short, and perpetuating the mentality that girls are nothing more than an object of desire. In my book, thats a big lose-lose.

    (Laura in Minneapolis)

  32. 32 viola anderson
    April 4, 2008 at 04:47

    It’s really hard to find something new to say about this issue, but I’ll try because for women it is is important to keep pounding away at the ignorance and hatred that lead to the blame they receive for inciting men’s lust. “Although some men are generally licentious no matter how a woman dresses…” should read “Some men are generally licentious no matter how a woman dresses.” It is self-serving drivel to claim that “the devil made me do it” or “the woman made me do it” or “The twinkies made me do it” or “My mother made me do it” or “My father made me do it” or “I was just getting even.”

    There’s nothing wrong with having a dress code but please don’t claim it will win men’s respect and protect women from the consequences of someone’s out-of-control lust looking for a target and just itching to hurt someone.

    I once read a rant by a newspaper columnist about professional women who dare to wear comfortable (but ugly) walking shoes when they walk to work where they then change into their (uncomfortable) “working” shoes. The writer was incensed that these women would offend his sensibilities by daring to choose comfort instead of painfully remaining attractive in his eyes. Better as far as he was concerned that women damage their feet than that he should have to see them wear a big old pair of ugly running shoes with their nice suits. If he wasn’t, in fact, joking he had to be an insensitive, judgmental, pushy, jerk. It makes as much sense for him to think women should dress to please his sensibilities as it does for other men to claim the women should dress so as not to excite his lustful desires. What a crock.

    In my opinion young men and women attempting to be sexually attractive to one another is touching and beautiful and as God intended and nature implemented.

    As for young western girls dressing slutishly, it is as Savane said. Also, I believe there is an unfortunate misunderstanding among young girls about what makes them pretty. I wish I could convince them all that they are already incredibly, fantastically beautiful because they are, but they are young, inexperienced and insecure and would say, “Yes, but…”

    British Columbia, Canada

  33. 33 steve
    April 4, 2008 at 11:37

    @ Viola. I notice the wearing running shoes to work by women who wear business suits. I personal don’t care that shoes are ugly, in fact, the only reason I even noticed is because white shoes stick out. But it says something about you if you buy shoes that are so uncomfortable that you cannot even walk in them, and have to wear other shoes just to get to work, then switch them. Shoes are meant to protect your feet. That’s rather shallow if you have shoes so uncomfortable that you cannot even walk in them. I mean, really, other than white shoes sticking out like a sore thumb, who looks at shoes? Unless you’re into guys who have a foot fetish, I’m not looking at your feet, but your decision to buy shoes so uncomfortable that you cannot walk in them does speak volumes about superficiality.

    I wouldn’t limit it to just young women dressing sluttily. Remember, these young girls tend to not have money, so someone is buying them the clothes, and it’s usually the mother who dresses sluttily herself. You really need to go out to a mall and see how adult women are dressed, and you won’t be shocked why their daughters dress the same way. I sense a societal train wreck coming, as these people really are slow motion train wrecks.

  34. 34 Brett
    April 4, 2008 at 11:52

    @ George:

    The other day I saw an attractive woman who was smiling, gesturing, and moving totally within modesty by anyone’s standards,

    But this woman had to be one of the sexiest smiling, gesturing and moving women around.

    Some women exude something no one can put their finger on but no one misses it.

    Clothes do not make a lovely woman,

    lack of clothes do not make a sensual woman.

    I completely agree with George on this one. Smile and eyes do it for me. Not clothing that screams “Give me attention!”.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  35. 35 Scott, Memphis, Tn
    April 4, 2008 at 13:54

    Face it here in the U.S., as well as the U,K. we live in a free society in which we can’t impose clothing restrictions of that sort, What’s really needed is proper values in raising our children, unfortunately it seems we have lost a large amount of common sense

  36. 36 steve
    April 4, 2008 at 14:10

    For people who are upset about clothing regulations, why is it okay to have gender segregation at gyms? This article makes the argument that it’s a woman’s issue, not a religious issue. It’s based upon the argument that women feel uncomfortable lifting 20 lbs around men who can lift 100, thus banning men is okay. This ban is based upon the insecurity of women. It is no different than having a bar ban all women more attractive than you because it makes you feel uncomfortable. Why do we tolerate this but not a dress codes? Can someone justify the double standard? Modesty = bad, but enabling someone’s insecurities is okay?


  37. April 4, 2008 at 14:18

    Hi Goerge and Brett. I completely agree with both of you pals. And let me just say that a beautiful charming smile and beautiful capturing eyes are only a reflection of a beautiful and pure soul inside. With my love. Yours forever, Lubna in Baghdad.

  38. 38 steve
    April 4, 2008 at 14:20

    @ Laura Hughes:

    Maybe you don’t get out much, but women expose their undergarments ALL the time. The proposed Virginia law that was shot down, was directed mainly a men, since it’s the thuggy type that tend to wear their jeans low, though technically it whould have applied to women who show exposed undergarments. If you’re ever out, you see it CONSTANTLY, and in most cases, they do it for attention, as it gets attention. There’s apparently a new trend now of brides and their bridesmaids posing just in bras and panties all together as part of the wedding pictures. Can you believe that?


    (look for Allison)

  39. 39 Isabelle
    April 4, 2008 at 14:25

    Dear Ros,

    The wording of the question makes me already furious, let alone the subject!
    I think the question should have been: “Is is acceptable that women are imposed a so-called modest dress code?”

    I will send my comment to the “worldhaveyou” e-mail.

    All best,

  40. 40 M.L.
    April 4, 2008 at 14:26

    How about you just replace with word “women” with “men” in this entire discussion about control (and replace “the affect their clothing has on men” to “the affect their clothing has on women”) and see how sensible it sounds.

    This is still all about control and women as a detail in the story (HIStory) that “affect” men (i.e., they are owned, controlled, and only understood in their relationship to men). The starting point of this discussion is one of subjegation and understanding women as possessions belonging to the males of their communities. Let’s find a new starting point.

  41. 41 Julie P
    April 4, 2008 at 14:29

    This is simply social control of women and a means for keeping women second class. It’s that simple.

  42. 42 John in Germany
    April 4, 2008 at 14:30

    Hello All.

    Its just nice to know that woman have that special chemistry that works on us men. That is what keeps the world going round. Its a good job you cant stop everything by law.

    John in Germany

  43. 43 Ros Atkins
    April 4, 2008 at 14:53

    Ros, re the question of whether women should adhere to imposed dress codes, you may already be aware of it, but here’s a BBC online link to a report from South Africa last year: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/6917332.stm

  44. 44 Miche Norman
    April 4, 2008 at 15:03

    It is quite incredible how sexist male dominated orthodox religion whether Islam, Judaism or amish is. I remmeber tales of a synagogue in north London where little girls were forbidden to wear back patent shoes in case heaven forbid some man would see the reflection of their underpants in the shoes. IT seems that these dress codes are designed by men with sick minds.

    Here we have the phenomena of going to a beach and seing Orthodox Muslem and Jewish women on the beach covred from head to toe in 90 degrees of men whilst their men wear swimming briefs. It seems like modesty must only be necessary for the fairer sex.

  45. 45 Will Rhodes
    April 4, 2008 at 15:05

    Israel Ambe Ayongwa April 3, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    I believe yes. Women best know one major problem with men is their inability to control themselves in the face of a scantily clad lady and some of them are exploiting it to dress seductively and provoke them. Although some men are generally licencious no matter how a lady dresses, I think dressing in a modest manner is proper.

    I would suggest you go to some of the nightclubs in the UK – by what you are saying all the women there would be raped while walking out of the door – men control their urges perfectly well – well most do – a fist fight would happen more frequently.

    In nightclubs you have the very wicked, booze, dancing, music, women and men mixing together.

    It is utterly ridiculous that women only are made to use a dress code – that is simply discrimination of women, and a flat insult to most men.

  46. 46 carlos
    April 4, 2008 at 15:06

    Hi WHYS family,

    Should society MAKE women dress modestly? A millions times no!!! But, Should women dress modestly? A million times yes!!!

    No church or society has the right to MAKE any woman or man do anything. We got our freedom of choice from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and we should refuse to allow anyone to MAKE us do anything that they perceive to be moral or spiritual. Morality and Spirituality is a personal relationship between our Lord and us guided by the word of God.

    It is a dangerous practice to follow the commandents of men. We should search the scriptures and follow the word of God. The bible speaks to women dressing modestly. This is irrefutable. Take it or leave it. It is every woman’s right to decide her own destiny.

    Why I think women should dress modestly is because they should not indulge the sexual depravity of immoral men and women (for that matter). No fashion designer has the right to tell women to wear skirts or shorts so short or tight that their vulva is exposed. Their private parts belong to them and should not be for public consumption. Keep it unsoiled for that special one and only.

    Media and fashion will always use women as pawns to gratify morbid sexual perversions. What does it profit a women to unneccarily exposed herself? Does it make her more attractive? No! Does it bring her more respect from others and self respect? No! Does it make her a better person? No! All it does is feed the perverted depraved lower nature.

    Women of the world stop allowing immoral and degenerate and deprave men and women of the world in the fashion and media industry to use you as pawns to gratify their perverted sexual desires and those of their audience.

    The first thing God made after sin was introduce into the world was a clothig for the man and woman. Your body belongs to you! God gave it to you! Don’t feel under any obligation or pressure to show it off! Keep your fruits fresh for picking by your special someone.

    Carlos, Kingston-Jamaica.

  47. April 4, 2008 at 15:10


    To further support your point I have seen many student in the UK go out dressed in outfits made entirely out of cardboard and they still look as attractive as it they were wearing a mini skirt or any other type of clothing for that matter

  48. 48 Peter Gizzi UK
    April 4, 2008 at 15:10

    Why I ask just women? If laws or rules are passed concerning dress codes they should surely apply to both sexes?

    A man in tight cut off jeans can be equally attractive? Whether or not he is ” attacked” by women remains to be seen. I certainly find them good to look at but do nothing about it! I’m just too old.

    I thought in Western Society women were supposed to be equal? This should surely apply to all aspects of life?

  49. 49 Peter Dewsnap
    April 4, 2008 at 15:20

    I don’t agree with sexually provocative dress. That tends to make them look like tarts. Neither do I think they should look like slobs, as many do. They is nothing more attractive than a good-looking woman dressed tastefully. They look as if they are someone.
    As for female dress in general, if some religions object, then that’s their problem. They can dress as they like except should not be allowed to cover their faces.

  50. April 4, 2008 at 15:22


    I love these discussion. The fact that this is even a considerable topic only goes to show that we are only slightly evolved above our primal ancestors. If you consider that there are two types of actions “animalistic” (Those actions based solely on primal instinct to either breed, eat, or keep the proper temperature.) and “humanistic” (Those actions in direct contrast to instinct based decisions. They are made with respect to morality, fairness, and consideration for the greater community. The embodiment of self-control.) then logically the more we cater to our animal side the more proof that we have not really evolved so far. By relation, this kind of puts a damper on the whole “Creator” theory. That which makes us human is those things that demonstrate the ability to control ones own actions.

    So if you are a dude who can’t see a scantily clad woman with out raping her, it is something that the society as a whole should know about. Either your genes have shown a resistance to evolution or your parental guidance has lacked in your upbringing.

    Being animals, the desire to procreate is the strongest of all instincts. This is why all successful religions have some way to control and temper this instinct. “Christians” use guilt, Muslims use fear. Control the basic instincts and control the persons humanity. If you can show that you are more “human” then your subordinates they will look up to you. They will see you are spiritually elevated.

    lol, That all said. If I were making the rules, I would force all women to wear stripper cloths. (Except the ugly ones and you know who you are.) I am so busy these days that it would really be a big help if I didn’t have to waste seconds per encounter picturing you in high heels, fishnets, and a push-up. That is exactly what I am doing when you walk by, just so that you know. If I cold save the 15 min. a day I spend re-visioning the women that walk by everyday, it would be a big help

  51. April 4, 2008 at 15:25

    One of the aspects of morality in different societies is how men and women interact. Sex is a taboo in many of them and by this, free relations between the two sexes. In conservative societies like Saudi Arabia men and women aren’t allowed to mix. For that there are, among other things, separate schools for boys and girls so the separation continues later in life. Women can’t show any single part of their bodies in public, including the face. In such societies every part of the woman’s body is considered as a sexual attraction. So it should be totally covered in public. Remember that when Madeleine Albright, the former US State Secretary when visiting Saudi Arabia, she wore a long skirt reaching her toes. Margaret Thatcher, still a PM , on a visit to this country descended the plane wearing a veil. former BBC female correspondent in Iran Francis Harrison had to wear a scarf when on air.

    It is still considered as an offence in many societies to walk naked in public, but it’s OK if half naked or almost naked.

    The question that remains about women’s dress is which part of the body to show or not to show and how much of it should be shown. This is what seems to define the dress code. Actually it’s female teenagers and young women who are prone to dress “immodestly” as for them this kind of dress is an expression of freedom and self-assertion and a means to attract more attention. They seek to “beam” wherever they go and not to go unnoticed.

    Young females and males have a period in their lives in which to go crazy doing what adults consider as irrational. They like to go rowdy and behave uncontrollably. They seek to express themselves by indulging in activities through which they exteriorise their physical and sexual energy. The fashion industry helps promote this trend by making clothes to fit the desire to look the sexiest by among other things designing tight clothes and very short ones. Top clothes cover just half the top and lower clothes cover just 20% or less of the lower parts. There are fashion shows which glamorise every part of the body. So for some women, highlighting their beauty in public becomes an obsession. It’s not enough to show it in private with friends and partners.

    But there are limits to what women should wear. They shouldn’t perform a kind of striptease in public through the way they dress and move. There are parts of the body that should be decently covered. A woman showing herself in an “immodest” dress in public becomes just a sexual object in the eyes of many. She becomes far from being treated as a person that should be respected.

    Perhaps women should learn to hide the most of their bodies without forgetting to look pretty and sexy. It’s better for them to let men imagine what their bodies look like. Showing it all put an end to men’s curiosity who will look elsewhere to find another woman showing the best of what she has got.

  52. 52 Andrew Stamford
    April 4, 2008 at 15:25

    This subject always gets up my nose. Why shouldn’t women dress the way they wish. OK I have to state my position and say I do prefer to see women dress ‘nicely’ and stylishly. I don’t mind women dressing imaginatively, that is their prerogative and if they want to dress trashy and look like rubbish….. well they’re the ones who have to live with their sartorial choices. Just as men can dress elegantly or look like they slept in a dumpster.

    Back to my nose, what irks me no end is to say they should dress modestly for the effect it might have on other cultures, religions or men in general. As for cultures, well if you are in your own home, by that I mean homeland, then what is it to anyone? If you are a visitor in another land, then by all means respect local traditions. Same for religion. Why should you be so worried, or have to worry about the sensibilities of others. Perhaps you might take umbrage to their mode of religious attire? Two sides to that coin. Besides which, if you are not a follower of a particular religion, how dare they dictate your dress sense. In fact even if you do follow that religion, it is your choice as an individual how you wish to be seen and not up to an arbitrary group of people to pontificate as to your clothing. But as for men, regardless of how a woman dresses, if a man cannot control himself then that is his problem. And he should not let his problem become a woman’s problem as a result.

    Any man who takes offence at women’s clothing should reassess his ideas. Have your opinion, but leave it at that. I do not believe that how a woman dresses should make a difference to how a man behaves. In this day and age, as an adult and with our societal norms and laws then seductive appearance is no excuse to create an offence against another person. There was a famous case of a cleric in Australia who likened women with skimpy dress sense to uncovered meat. That kind of thinking is archaic and unacceptable. That is the lamest excuse in anyone’s language. Oh I got drunk and mowed down 30 people – it is the brewery’s fault. I was speeding – the car company… get the idea? But to suggest that women’s clothes somehow set off a chain reaction in a man’s mind and leads him – not her – to commit offences or worse against a women is anthema. Perhaps if these men cannot control themselves then they should not be allowed out on the street. Can they be trusted out and about. Oh and another thing, isn’t it the man’s fault, are we forgetting that minor point? There is some twisted logic applied in justifying a man’s behaviour, but that does not absolve him of his obligations to another person. Moreover, his responsibility to act as a reasonable and decent human being.

    But having said that, what is the problem for a reasonable person to actually look at a woman. It works the other way round doesn’t it? Let’s not go too far the other way and start suggesting that despite dress freedom, men in particular should not look at women. By that logic, you would never be able to meet a woman or approach her if you fancied her because it would be construed as some form of harassment. After all part of what attracts you to someone is how they appear and the messages they might be sending through their apparel. Above all let’s be sensible about this.

  53. 53 Ros Atkins
    April 4, 2008 at 15:26

    Should this even be a discussion in this day and age? Isn’t this pandering to an audience you could never find common ground with? Would your wife, sister, or girlfriend even give you a minute of time if you suggested what they can and cannot wear? Sorry, I m not getting this at all.
    Let’s see.
    Greg in the States

  54. 54 John in Salem
    April 4, 2008 at 15:27

    Laws that prohibit women from wearing certain types of clothing are made to protect the men who rape them.
    If you want to protect women all you have to do is make rape punishable with a mandatory life sentence.

  55. 55 Neal H
    April 4, 2008 at 15:36

    yes, as a man, it’s insulting to have it implied that a revealing outfit on a woman can somehow convert me from a law-abiding citizen to a rapist.

    The idea of the blog’s described legislation, when taken to the extreme, results in what a lot of Muslim countries have, women basically walking around in shapeless cloth sacks. They can’t be seen, even in outline, and the only reason I can think of is that as entire societies, they decided that men cannot at all control themselves on any level. So they have to bag up their women so they won’t be seen as pretty.

    The flaw in this is that despite denying any suggestion of an attractive female form, women are routinely raped and abused in such societies, treated like property, murdered in honor killings, etc. So far from improving the life of these visually protected women, it makes them alluringly irresistable taboo objects and into things, not people.

    I like seeing women (and men for that matter.) It isn’t against the law to look, and I look, and I enjoy what I see. It doesn’t mean I can’t treat women respectfully or interact with them as equals, but women check men out too, and attractiveness makes the day less dull.

    Women need to be cautious and it’s a shame that they have to, yes bikinis in a dark alley at midnight is inadvisable, but there are criminal elements. Fully dressed men aren’t necessarily safe in dark alleys at midnight. Men in bikinis, definitely not safe. So, some common sense and basic societal consensus guidelines naturally emerge. But there is room at the fringe, and aside from the most extreme, people can dress as they please.

  56. 56 Angela from Washington D.C.
    April 4, 2008 at 15:39

    I am an American and thankful for our culture and diversity. Women in the U.S. are able to wear different types of clothing and if you don’t like it don’t look at it, however, Nigeria is not a Western country. The laws in many African countries are different from what we have in the West. I think that it is wrong to tell someone what to or not to wear, but I have many freedoms that others do not have. I personally think most men in Nigeria are sexist, so they enact a law that would make women believe it is their fault for being harrassed or raped. My heart goes out to the women in that country, and I will make sure I don’t travel there anytime soon.

  57. 57 Neal H
    April 4, 2008 at 15:43

    I agree with the above post of John in Salem, costume laws protect men who are dangerous to women, it isn’t about protecting women. It assumes that men can’t control themselves.

    Well-adjusted people don’t throw women behind bushes and rape them. Someone who is walking down the street doesn’t become a rapist by seeing revealing outfits. They must be already capable of rape to begin with.

    It’s not like it’s hard to see women in states of undress or no dress, that’s like 97.2% of the internet. Srsly.

  58. 58 gary
    April 4, 2008 at 15:47

    Hello All,
    Women should not be expected to dress so as to hide their feminine shape, nor should they dress out of context, to call particular attention to various aspects of it. If men find looking at women dressed as women distressing, perhaps they should acknowledge God’s gift of beautiful women and practice personal restraint and discipline.

  59. 59 steve
    April 4, 2008 at 15:48

    Why not also pass a law preventing overweight women from wearing spandex or showing their midriffs? Some of us have good eyesight and really don’t want to suffer for your decision on what to wear. Even a quick glimpse is enough to cause distress.

  60. 60 Laura in Minneapolis
    April 4, 2008 at 15:53


    I can only speak from personal experience. When I was in high school, yeah a lot of girls had exposed bra straps or the top of their underwear would poke out, and the teachers and administrators told them to fix it. My point is that at the same time, some guys would play soccer without shirts at lunchtime and sag their pants to mid-thigh length, and not hear a word about it. That’s only one school, maybe it is different in other schools.

    Plus, no matter how much i get out- being from minnesota where it hasn’t been over 45 F degrees in the last 4 months- no one really gets the chance to expose much of anything 🙂 Today is going to be nearly 60 F degrees though, so maybe i’ll see something more- I’ll make sure to report back to you, steve.

    Sadly, it’s time for class.

  61. 61 Anthony
    April 4, 2008 at 15:54

    I think women should have the freedom to dress like tramps, but they can’t say anything since men should then also have the freedom to treat them that way.

    You can’t have your cake and eat it too 🙂

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  62. 62 viola anderson
    April 4, 2008 at 15:55

    Steve: Most women would like to have healthy feet and dress stylishly for work. We’ve all read the articles about how to dress for success and how your dress should emulate the dress of those whose position you covet, but you don’t see “the suits” wearing big old ugly running shoes in the office, just as you don’t see them on the women “suits” in the office. I have yet to read a rant about a man on the street outraging any woman’s sensibility by electing to wear big old ugly running shoes with his $1,000 suit to get from the train station or the parking lot to his office because his $300 shoes match the suit but hurt his feet. Steve, there is a big difference between hiking a few blocks in a pair of pumps and sitting at a desk or moving around an office. Believe me, if the people on the street who don’t like to see women wearing running shoes with their power suits could affect her chances of promotion, she would toss the running shoes and suffer the toe pinchers. It’s not vanity–it’s the pocketbook.

    The young girls and women must be given leeway to find their way in their own way and in their own time. They’re babies, Steve; cut them some slack. Think of it as a sorting process. The smartest ones will know right from the get-go that it’s all a farce and a way to sell clothes and cosmetics and diet pills and diet plans and diet “foods”. The next smartest will figure it out a little more slowly, but they’ll catch on. And the rest? Well, they need a power base the same as every other soul on the planet does.

  63. 63 viola anderson
    April 4, 2008 at 16:03

    Thank you, Andrew. I know there are lots of you out there.

  64. April 4, 2008 at 16:05

    I’m shocked that this issue is even up for discussion. Men have been blaming women for their own violence for thousands of years. Are Nigerians so backward that they believe a woman is to blame for a man’s crime, regardless what she wears? That’s frightening. Don’t they know that most rape is committed against women by people they know? The ignorance here is completely shocking. But then, when we’re talking about a country steeped in “religious values” one can only expect this kind of discourse. Women are scapegoats, indeed.

    Oh, and there’s a HUGE difference between a business dress code that bans fishnets and a law that tells women what to wear across the board. I worry for the world if it doesn’t know the difference. Again, shocking ignorance. I’m afraid this show sometimes makes me more pessimistic than optimistic about the future of mankind. But at least the topic is being discussed!

  65. 65 viola anderson
    April 4, 2008 at 16:06

    Some humor is always good, Dwight.

  66. 66 Rosalie-Portland, OR USA
    April 4, 2008 at 16:08

    Woman want to feel like they have the freedom to wear what they choose. However I believe that what you wear sends a message to others. Some dress for style, some dress for comfort, some dress for attention, ect. Approving a bill to control what people where, and justification is sending a message is that it’s because of the way a woman dresses the drive someone to commit rape, asault ect. This is sending a message to those who commit these crimes that it’s not their fault it’s the woman fault for the way they dress and this is completely unjustified.

    You have to wonder what goes through a woman’s head when she dresses for the day and puts on a mini skirt that’s way to short or some provacative outfit, is she wearing to be fashionable and fallow the current fashion trends, or is she trying to look appealing to attract attention. In this case I believe woman should put more thought into what they wear. I think woman should be educated on how to carry themselves in a way that sends people the message that they want to convey.

    I also believe that men in Nigeria need to be looked at on a society level and more attention should be paid to why men commit such acts.

    In conclusion: Approving a bill that will restric a woman’s right to choose what they wear is not going to stop people from acting out rape and other horrible crimes, and therefor a woman’s right should not be up for vote it should be an automatic right to wear what you want. If a woman wants to dress provactively she needs to understand that her choices may bring negative attention, however never warrants a person to commit a crime against her/him.

  67. 67 karl
    April 4, 2008 at 16:15

    The law should punish women who don’t dress modestly if their bodies are a shock to the eye because of their shape. Very fat women or skinny ones should cover their body. Young ones with symmetrical bodies should be encouraged to dress in the sexiest way as their beauty adds to the beauty of the world. The law should protect them from predators and any form of sexual harassment.

    After all we are born naked. It’s society that dictates what men and women should wear. It made separate clothes for each of them.

    A traveller in the past told his audience that he had gone to a country where it was hot day and night. So everybody didn’t wear any clothes at all. One person in the audience there asked him, “If so, how do these people make a difference between a man a woman?”

  68. 68 steve
    April 4, 2008 at 16:20

    The difference between men wearing low rider pants, with exposed boxer shorts vs. women wearing low rider jeans, is that the men are doing it to be cool, and the women are doing it because they know it gets attention and know that it turns men on. I don’t think anyone likes looking at guy with lowriding pants, let alone gets turned on by it. Women dress that way to get a reaction. It’s funny, there’s a Canadian teen show called Degrassi, where one of the characters (the show is amazingly realistic) deliberately dressed l ike that to get lots of attention, and guess what? She got lots of attention, and the school officials forbade her from dressing like that.

  69. April 4, 2008 at 16:32

    Going back to the earlier comment about young people dressing crazily in a way that adults can’t understand.

    My younger brother chooses to wear his trousers around his knees and really big t-shirts despite being
    a) 6 foot 4 with a really skinny frame
    b) as far away from the RnB music he tries to emulate in his dress sense.

    i suggest its not only adults who can’t understand young peoples dress sense.

    having recently turned 21 i still consider myself young, and i really don’t understand half the things my friends choose to wear.

    This does not mean i think the state should tell them not to wear it.

    To justify sexual assault by the type of clothing the victim was wearing is wrong, but i dont think kenya is back wards for discussing this topic. Throughout history it has been justified in this way.

  70. 70 Laura in Minneapolis
    April 4, 2008 at 16:37


    you say guys wear their pants the way they do because, “it’s cool.” I read, “because that’s the style.” Would you not say that low cut jeans are also the style for women? I think it’s less of a conscious choice “I’m going to wear these low-rider jeans because I want john to check me out,” and more of in style or what’s even available. Most of the stores that cater to the youth audience don’t even carry other types of jeans.

    That’s my experience, but maybe you have greater insight into the female mind.


  71. 71 Ros Atkins
    April 4, 2008 at 16:52


    hello, am Makoi from Africa ,what about women dressing? ,i got something that women should dress modestly, I think and hope ,dressing does not interferes with any religion am sorry that there are some taboos and religion that are connected with dressing ,therefore, i condemned the one talking about that women should dress modestly , let me refer you back to the time when all people were created with out cloths and by then there was nothing like people were not covered with cloth but people clothed themselves with leaves of tree but no law or nothing like constitution was written on the way women dressed,leave women alone ,you give them freedom of dressing ,that during the when the you normally referred to what you so called western culture ,which is actually damaging the whole world,hece results to coming of Islam and christianity that imposed ways of dressing to some parts of the which is totally wrong ,in a nutshell leave our women alone,
    makoi student of development studies in Afric

  72. 72 steve
    April 4, 2008 at 17:00

    @ Laura:

    I think I said the guys do it because they “think” it’s cool. That’s different than doing it for sexual attention. Wearing an exposed thong and saying it’s a “style” is really no different than wearing a very revealing shirt, then complaining that men are looking at your boobs and not “respecting me for my mind”. The reason for the proposed laws to ban low riding pants with boxers exposed is the correlation of that with thuggish behavior, according to the proponents of the law, which was never passed btw.

  73. 73 savane
    April 4, 2008 at 17:02

    Anthony (LA, CA), if a woman wants the freedom to dress like a tramp, then men should have the freedom to treat her as one??!!


    Someone wise once said that all animals (humans included) know the difference between what is right and wrong. What separates humans from other animals, and places us at the top is that humans (male and female) know the difference.

    We have the ‘gift’ of reason and choice, we are not driven solely by instinct!

    People, let’s not lose our top ranking!

    Nairobi, Kenya

  74. 74 Brett
    April 4, 2008 at 17:11

    61 Anthony
    April 4, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    I think women should have the freedom to dress like tramps, but they can’t say anything since men should then also have the freedom to treat them that way.

    You can’t have your cake and eat it too

    -Anthony, LA, CA

    Um…. Whoa…. Your kidding right?

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va

  75. 75 steve
    April 4, 2008 at 17:15


    I disagree, I haven’t seen much reason coming to choice. I think humans pretend like they are superior beings to “animals” but are just the same as “animals” though less honest about things. Ever notice how the holier than though religious types tend to be either closet cases, pedophiles, or secret perverts??? You would get people that deny they masturbate, like anyone believes them, yet they’ll tell a obvious lie, to give the image they are some higher form of life. If humans know the difference from right and wrong, why do so many humans do the wrong thing? Why do we have war? Why do we have police forces? If people were so good, why do we need police? Because, we all know that despite how much we pretend to be some higher life form, we are actually lower than “animals”. I don’t see animals murdering, committing crimes, becuase they are more concerned about survival, not about the GPS system in the car that you want to steal. We are just like the animals, but what distinguishes us is our ability to be dishonest and to lie.

  76. 76 Mike Cenedella
    April 4, 2008 at 17:15

    Some time ago in the US, even in criminal prosecutions, the argument was given that if a woman dressed provocatively, she secretly wanted to be raped. The argument persists in the form that if a woman appears sexy, she wants attention from any man in sight.

    Well, a US cartoonist, Broomhilda, turned this argument upside down.

    In the cartoon a woman with a raised eyebrow asked, “If a woman in a tight skirt secretly wants to be raped, does a man in an expensive suit secretly want to be mugged?”

    According to what I’ve read and what women have told me, women dress to please themselves. If she wants your sexual attention, you’ll know it. If you don’t get that personal signal, too bad.

    If you’re distracted at work, set yourself a time limit, then change your position and view.

  77. 77 Virginia Davis
    April 4, 2008 at 17:28

    Growing up, for me, it was school or the beach. Or posing for an art class. The human body is beautiful! “just the right proportions” (and who determines that? Hollywood, the Internet?) or skinny or fat.

    Being female, I appreciate Lubna and Sevene’s comments. I dress modestly.

    Personally, I am offended by partially to almost completely exposed breasts by women and young girls. Cleavage as a style to cater to men and to fashion annoys the heck out of me – but that’s my problem.

    As for fashion police, I don’t like governments or institutions making rules. Which does not speak against – or for – head scarfs. And government and law firms saying mini-skirts are against the rules, I remember a friend in the late 60’s almost getting fired in a San Francisco insurance company where I worked for daring to wear “cullottes.”

    Virginia in Portland, OR

  78. 78 steve
    April 4, 2008 at 17:29

    We actually have a dress policy at work because some women used to come in basically dressed like streetwalkers. In the guidelines on dress, all the examples are for women, because the men had the common sense to know you wear a sweater or a collared shirt, and don’t wear jeans, let alone micro skirts, exposed midriffs, spaghetti tops, exposed undergarments. Apparently the problem was how women were dressing, so they actually wrote out what you can and cannot wear. It’s dumbfounding, given this is a professional environment.

  79. April 4, 2008 at 17:30

    Why should women be told what to wear? are they senseless to choose or they don’t know what to do? I think women should put on what ever looks good to them , they have got all the rights to choose any thing.Whether micro min skirt,jeans or scuff it’s their right to do so.I think it’s because we men don’t have some thing in common to show other other our beards.

  80. April 4, 2008 at 17:40

    While I tend to agree with Steve’s sentiment that we are no better then the rest of the animal kingdom, I have profound hope and desire that it isn’t true. I know the old cliché “you can hope in one hand and….” The truth is that Humans are either superior beings or the world’s worst and most devastating parasite. If it is the latter, at least our hang up on sex should contain us to just this planet until we either evolve or destroy ourselves.

  81. April 4, 2008 at 17:56

    Why should anyone change their way of life to satisfy the choices of others? I’m offended when a woman has to cover her face and hair in public, but I’d never choose to strip them of their choice to do so. I think the bigger issue here is the sexual immaturity of men that seek to control women because they can’t control their libidos. Rather than impose dress codes for women, I’d propose blindfolds for hypersensitive men.

    Ken in Cleveland

  82. 82 steve
    April 4, 2008 at 18:01


    “I think the bigger issue here is the sexual immaturity of men that seek to control women because they can’t control their libidos. Rather than impose dress codes for women, I’d propose blindfolds for hypersensitive men.

    Ken in Cleveland”

    Then also those women dressed that way would refuse free drinks and dinners from those men too?

  83. April 4, 2008 at 18:02

    Women should dress MORALLY, SPIRITUALLY, HONOURABLY, IN A DIGNIFIED MANNER, RESPONSIBLY, AND RESPECTFULLY. Women should dress not to attract men or express sexiness, but to project an inner morality and spirituality, to project womanhood in its glory, and to project a good upbringing by her parents.

    Prince Pieray Odor
    Lagos, Nigeria

  84. April 4, 2008 at 18:02

    Of course there should be a law about it. The law is an ass, it’s most appropriate.

  85. 85 Jonathan
    April 4, 2008 at 18:05

    Its silly to think that your clothes can be picked for you. However, clothes are a function of your culture, and should fall within its margins of exceptability. Here is North America, our culture allows woman to wear what they want. In my personal view the most unsexy article of clothing is the bikini. One could argue that too much freedom of nakedness allows woman to use their bodies as a tool to get what they want etc. Maybe that side of the story should be addressed.

  86. April 4, 2008 at 18:12

    I believe women and men should wear what they like. But here’s the catch. What people choose to wear is an expression of self. When one presents themselves in the world, what they wear is an expression of how they feel. In short, if you want someone to take you seriously, you should not wear something that is contrary to your true intent.

  87. 87 steve
    April 4, 2008 at 18:13

    If you read this article, you’ll see there is something incredibly wrong with us in the west. You can view this as empowerment, but I’ll still think you are sick in the head if you think this could in any way be a good thing….


  88. April 4, 2008 at 18:13

    If a man cannot control himself at the sight of a woman, the solution is not to veil the woman but to castrate the man.

    John Mihaljevic
    Auckland, New Zealand

  89. April 4, 2008 at 18:14

    Perhaps, if men are unable to master their uncontrollable desires around women, they should be sequestered, required to wear blinders or other hooding devices that will limit or contain their visual and other contact with women. Why must women bear the burden of a man’s inability to take charge of his own body?

    Portland Oregon

  90. 90 steve
    April 4, 2008 at 18:17

    Yes. I completely agree with the guest who described how people were dressed in churches. I went to a cousin’s bat mitzvah early in 2007, and one young teenage girl, she was probably 12-14 years old worse the shortest skirt I have ever seen, her parents were there and allowed her to dress that way, in a synagogue of all places.. The girl looked like she was going to walk the streets after the ceremony it was that short. And parents are allowing this, these girls will grow up to be complete train wrecks.

  91. 91 jesse from portland
    April 4, 2008 at 18:21

    The way you asked this question on the air was incredibly offensive. The question “should women consider the effects their clothes have on men” implies that men have no control over themselves, that it is a woman’s responsibility to dress in a way that will not have a certain effect on men, and that therefore rape victims have “asked for it.” You did not actually say that last part but I ask you to recognize that IT IS IMPLIED BY THE WAY YOU PHASED THE QUESTION.

    I believe in freedom. Also, I enjoy looking at attractive women, however they choose to dress. The fact that I find myself attracted to a woman does not give me license to attack her no matter how she is dressed.

    I lived in an Islamic country for a year and I am very familiar with the sexist attitudes which predominate in such places. It was awful. I feared for my own sister’s safety when she went out in public wearing a short sleeved shirt.

    That’s repression: Religious totalitarianism, enforced by the prejudices of an uneducated mob. NOT a good foundation for new laws!!!

  92. April 4, 2008 at 18:22

    Last evening the debate is about ofending Islam via comedy, tonights is about mandating modest clothing…since when is the BBC a debating society for Sharia law?


  93. April 4, 2008 at 18:22

    In the US the most fair means of justifying dress for a woman is her ability to defend herself for instance a military officer can wear a mini-skirt just about any time she wants. However it’s the responsibility of ones country to protect women without fail. So therefore it should be up any country to prevent the kind of abusive behavior that’s happened in the Congo. Does Nigeria really feel that they’re in danger of the same thing happening?


  94. April 4, 2008 at 18:24

    Why is it always women who have to think about the way they dress? Are men ever accused of dressing immoderately?

    Chris in Namibia

  95. 95 Ana from Puerto Rico
    April 4, 2008 at 18:24

    Are you kidding this is totally wrong!!!! No law should tell women what to wear! For government to tell women what to wear is an infringement to our freedom of expression. Honestly if it offends people of other religion it’s unfortunate but they have to accept it. It’s called freedom of religion and expression. More conservative people have a right to wear what they want and believe what they want and so should I. We cannot impose our religious or moral views on other people, that is part of living in a democracy. Finally men need to learn to control themselves they are not animals they are human beings, they have controls and should exercise them instead of going nuts if a women is showing some skin. This is making it too easy for men and puts the blame on women for men not having any controls.

  96. April 4, 2008 at 18:24

    Whose norms should a woman dress for? Church, culture, someone else?


  97. April 4, 2008 at 18:24

    Why is it always women who have to think about the way they dress? Are men ever accused of dressing immoderately?


  98. 98 Sioux, Portland Oregon
    April 4, 2008 at 18:26

    The issue should not be about how women or men dress, it should be about the self-control expected of any citizen. Infants will urinate and defecate where they sit. Adults are expected to control body functions, including sexual response.

    Clothing is not the reason for anyone to behave inappropriately or violently. Blaming attire, uncovered hair or any other aspect of appearance is just an excuse to continue to behave like an uncontrolled child.

    If sexual violence towards women was about clothing, nuns and the elderly would never be raped.

  99. 99 Aqualia Alexander
    April 4, 2008 at 18:28

    Somehow, ladies have forgetten the meaning of dressing professionally! You have a job- you respect the job- you will dress like a professional!
    Nowadays so much has changed in terms of the type of clothes we are allowed to wear at different places- like church- people are now allowed to attend church in jeans!!!!!

  100. 100 GodwynsO
    April 4, 2008 at 18:31

    I think that most speakers are seeing this from a point of disregard for Nigeria. While I do not think Nigeria should be haggling about such trivial issues at the moment, I think that that it is still very important that we should not throw cautions to the air. I live in the UK and not condoning of women wearing mask, same way, I am not condoning of women going out nude. It is an absolute public nuisance. Wha comes into this is decency. Raping isnt a result of nude women all the same because it has been even since when women covered up all over, yet nude dressing might encourage it. Having said that, I will point us all to the point that rape isnt no more an issue for women again but men also get raped both by fellow men and by women; the male victims were in most cases, not nude nor dressed in any provocative way. As a gay man, we see this happen, and have heard a lot of revelations especially in the UK where older men go back in history to talk of being sexually abused in their teenage ages.

    Nigeria anyway should focus on making the country more comfortable to live in than beating about the bush. Yet, I do not pray to see Nigeria into what the UK is where kids have no manners and young ladies get drunk and knife/gun crime happen for just trivial issues.

    Like the Nigerian said, there is no democracy in Nigeria and as a gay man, I am a victim in my country.

  101. 101 Fred
    April 4, 2008 at 18:32

    Let everybody wear what they want! What’s inappropriate is to think that someone who’s wearing fish-net stockings or a kilt want’s your sexual attention.

    Fred in Portland, in a kilt.

  102. April 4, 2008 at 18:34

    I like when my wife wears mini dress i like that she’s pashtoon too. I have a saudi too she wears dresses

    Tahl Fishman

  103. 103 susan
    April 4, 2008 at 18:34

    I find the following interesting: 1) Although a phrase applied to women is “weaker sex,” given the amount of regulation and legislation placed on the shoulders of women because of the inability of men to “control themselves”, it may be time to reconsider that notion. I believe women should be allowed to dress as they see fit, but, like the Bible says, there is a time and a place for everything and that includes dressing up, dressing down and when a miniskirt and spiked heels is acceptable. 2) You guys asked someone from Stratton Oakmont for an opinion???? Honey, please! They were one of the most notorious, borderline criminal “boiler room” penny stock operations in US history (I know – I used to work for a state securities regulatory agency)staying one name change ahead of the regulators. Think Tony Soprano and Paulie Walnuts selling stock. You really think they’d have enough of a sense of professionalism to know appropriate dress? Ros, Ros, Ros – a little more research in the future, if you please.

  104. April 4, 2008 at 18:34

    Whatever your views on the subject of modesty and dress, it is entirely unfeasible for people to suggest that men assume greater control over their libidos. We are the product of a million years of evolution and our libido is hard-wired by genetics triggered through various shapes and colours. Since genetics most often overrides morality, it is up to men and women to dress modestly if they do not want sexual attention.


  105. April 4, 2008 at 18:34

    I used to live about 10 minutes away from a beach town on Long Island, NY, called Long Beach. There, the beach was a topless beach because women sued for the right to be topless. As a result, the few women that went topless would have crowds of men surrounding them, just staring at them. I would go at odd times on weekdays when I was in law school, to study on the beach. And you could tell there was a topless girl on the beach if there was a crowd anyone at noon on a Wednesday. Some women didn’t like it and would leave, and others loved the attention and basked in it. But the moral of the story, is if you appear scantilly clad, or topless in public, you are going to get male attention. If you aren’t prepared to deal with that, then don’t appear that way in public.


  106. April 4, 2008 at 18:35

    Native women around the world wear the same amount of clothes as the men,leaving their tops bare, you don’t see the men there going crazy! Men stop the excuses!

    Kevin in Trinidad

  107. April 4, 2008 at 18:37

    The lady who mentioned about how uncomfortable she felt by seeing inappropriate clothing in church i believe is misguided.

    i have have attended church dressed in the clothes i was wearing the night before when i have been out clubbing. The church which is not desperate for followers as the lady suggested, has been nothing but welcoming and see’s me as a woman.

  108. 108 KiKi of London
    April 4, 2008 at 18:38

    Men are now wearing crotch huggers- I know how uncomfortable i feel being confronted by these men, so i understand the man’s point if he feel uncomfortable, but i don’t want to jump every guy’s bones ( to be it crudely) therefore these men who can’t controll themselves is a direct reflection of them and not the women who are supposedly under dressed.

    In order to pass a law like that- a concensus needs to be reached as what exactly is ‘MODESTLY DRESSED”

    A mate just told me a lady with a long skirt with a slit where he can see a slice of legs is more of a turn on than a lady with short shirt- so i gather to each he own! Tell me then can a lady really dress in a way that is not attractive to a 100% of the population? NO!!!

  109. April 4, 2008 at 18:40

    I don’t think any law should be passed to dictate stress,but if one was, shouldn’t it apply to both sexes? Men can dress in a way that makes them look very aggressive or dangerous.
    Should that be outlawed?

    Rachelle Herbert, Portland Or, US

  110. April 4, 2008 at 18:40

    I would like to see not only women dress provocatively but more important just dress in a feminine way and stop trying to look like men. Why do they want to look like us?

    James, Ontario Canada

  111. April 4, 2008 at 18:40

    A woman that dresses immodestly can be an embarrassment to other women with male partner.s The male partner can turn his eyes to them which can cause jealousy to his companion. So males have to struggle to avoid looking at half naked women not to anger their girlfriends or wives.

  112. April 4, 2008 at 18:41

    I think this issue is much more dangerous than your somewhat whimsical conversation reveals. If a law is passed regarding women’s dress, then if a woman is raped, men will not be held accountable. Every lawyer will argue that the woman was not dressed appropriately. Are we really in a place where we want to legislate and permit the “she was asking or it myth?”

    Megan in the US

  113. April 4, 2008 at 18:41

    Women often protest about discrimination by men against the female. However, in Jamaica men are now being marginalized and women have now taken a more dominant stance in society. Is this the case within the UK?

    Brian Robinson

  114. April 4, 2008 at 18:41

    Women should dress modestly and so should men. I think it is ok for the a law for modest dressing because we do have laws that force people to get car insurance even though we have great drivers.


  115. April 4, 2008 at 18:41

    What I object to is the Lady Godiva mentality: Women who reveal themselves but don’t think anyone should look. Ladies, if you’re going to show it, we’re are going to look at it.


  116. 116 megan
    April 4, 2008 at 18:41

    I think this issue is much more dangerous than your conversation reveals. If a law is passed regarding women’s dress, then if a woman is raped, men will not be held accountable. Every lawyer will argue that the woman was not dressed appropriately. Are we really in a place where we want to legislate and permit the “she was asking or it myth?”

  117. 117 Tracy
    April 4, 2008 at 18:42

    I believe society has for the most part allowed people to make the decision of how best to dress and we all know that in some situations, people have decided to take that freedom overboard. And that is where we need laws like in the one in Georgia against people wearing sagging pants come in to correct these people who do not seem to understand that even with the freedom they have, there is a limit.

  118. April 4, 2008 at 18:43

    My wife’s first job was in an insurance office in London. One lunchtime my wife and her workmates left the office in shorts and t-shirts to play netball. They were turned back by a policeman who said they should cover theirselves with raincoats or similar.
    Men in the office were not permitted to remove their jackets or loosen their ties during working hours.
    Trouser suits for women were absolutely forbidden.
    This was not the Victorian London of Dickens but the early 1960″s. Better now? I think so.

    Luther Lewis

  119. April 4, 2008 at 18:43

    Women should be free to dress as they please. But they should realize what type of attention they ard getting, and not be suprised by lewd remarks and cat-calling if they are walking around topless or nearly so.

    Michele, Oregon USA.

  120. April 4, 2008 at 18:43

    Does modest mean covering yr hair? Does it mean covering your face? What is modest, & what isn t? How long is a piece of string?

    Chris is Namibia

  121. 121 Paulo
    April 4, 2008 at 18:44

    I don’t agree with this law, but we’re kidding ourselves if we think that that all states don’t legislate how we dress already… I can’t walk around on the street naked. I’d be arrested for public indecency. I can walk around without a shirt, but a woman can’t legally. And human beings are born naked. We lived naked since first we evolved. We were naked for far longer than we were expected to wear clothes, and there are still parts of the world where men wear very little around their genitals and women are bare-breasted.

    Paterson, New Jersey

  122. 122 Jeff in Cleveland, Ohio
    April 4, 2008 at 18:44

    Suggesting that laws should be put into place to restict the way that a woman should dress smacks of the old disgusting argument that rape victims somehow deserved what they got. I believe that all people, women or men, have the right to dress as they please.

  123. 123 Lauren
    April 4, 2008 at 18:44

    I have a question. Is the woman proposing the law in Nigeria a Hausa? Hausa are Muslim, and I think if she is, there might be something more to the proposed law than just having women dress modestly.
    As I understand it, since the High Life days, there have been issues with women dressing and just being sexual in Nigeria. I think this issue has more to do with women’s rights around the world rather than the issue of women dressing inappropriately.

  124. 124 Nik Tressler
    April 4, 2008 at 18:45

    Matters of appropriate dress is not so much about rules, but more about theater. Everyone needs to be aware of how the outfit of choice will affect those who see it.

    Professional women who want to be treated seriously need to dress to get a serious reaction. An outfit that is good for a Saturday night disco is not so good for my doctor as she prepares for surgery. Nor would it be a good selection to impress a jury.

    My wife and daughter both have fishnets, but neither would wear them to a classroom or court just as I don’t expect my judge to be wearing a torn T-shirt.

    As a father, I could never convince my daughter that that “cute” top was not seen as “cute” by adult men who see her in public.

    The unfortunate reality is that all societies are controlled by their adolescent males and today there are a mass of immature males who rule by physical response— sometimes psychological intimidation and sometimes by violence– and justify their material juvenality by citing biology.

    And sad shortage of adult men.

    Nik from Ashtabula, OHIO

  125. 125 Angelina
    April 4, 2008 at 18:45

    Women should definitely not be forced to comply with restrictive legislation regarding dress code.From experience,I can say that it wouldn’t change anything.Dressing modestly hasn’t stopped numerous cases of molestation in developing countries.Men need to RESPECT women first.

  126. 126 James D. Barclay
    April 4, 2008 at 18:47

    This not about men not being able to control themselves, but about women’s dignity. I believe their body is a precious part of their womanhood. Before any man gains sight of it he must have the approval of that woman. But now you don’t even have to gain the consent of some women to see their precious body. They just expose themselves with the believe of enticing men.

    The surprise is you don’t attract most men when you dress half naked; all you do is attract unserious and short time partners, making marriage difficult for yourself.

    There should be no law, no formal regulation. Leave it to women

    James D. Barclay

    New Jersey, USA

  127. April 4, 2008 at 18:48

    There should be no governmental law dictating what women should wear. I am from Trinidad. I am female but I do not dress like some women do at Carnival. I still believe those women have the right to dress (or not dress) the way they want to at Carnival time. I also believe institutions (workplaces) and religions have their right to dictate their codes of dress (for both men and women!), although I can understand why they wouldn’t want to impose it to dissuade people from participating. The fact is that a women seeking a particular type of job will dress (appropriately) to win it so the fact that they would act as if their rights are infringed when some institutions such as churches choose to dictate dress codes.


  128. April 4, 2008 at 18:48

    Personally, I feel women should be able to dress as they choose. Just as men should. However, it is commonly understood amongst most people that certain locations, customs, cultures, professions ect. require certain dress. I don’t come to work in a thong and leather chaps because I wouldn’t keep my job! For the woman (who like a broken record) continues to ask about men’s control I ask “do women have control of themselves”? We (Men) are biologically hardwired to be attracted to certain things about a woman. To deny that is the height of ignorance. Now, men do need to monitor what they say out of respect but women should also be asking themselves why are you compelled to dress in a provactive fashion?


  129. April 4, 2008 at 18:48

    If women should restrict their wardrobe to avoid arousing men, men should restrict their mouths to avoid annoying women.

    In NY

  130. April 4, 2008 at 18:48

    Maybe brokers are programmed a certain way – they can’t control themselves when they see money either. These people need to get out more.

    New York

  131. April 4, 2008 at 18:49

    I rather doubt that the issue is whether women should be able to wear what they want, and more an exploration of why is this an issue in our postmodern, twenty-first century realities? Notwithstanding the Nigerian example, which itself is a casue for very serious concern, language like, “women would be ill advised to go out at nights wearing bikinis…” somehow implies that it is a woman’s responsibility to control men’s sexual desires and not for men to exercise restraint. Sexual desire, in other words, is something that women “do” to men and not a process in which all peoples – males and females, females and females, males and males, as well as every other configuration in between experience, and often in numerous ways.

    Indeed, sexual attacks against women are also committed by other women, even children. What then? How do we treat with that reality? And, how does that factor into this discussion? Is a law to be proposed as well regading how men should dress? After all, by not acknowledging the gender politics which would prompt the framing of this question in the way has been done above is to also miss how language sometimes reify the institutionalized politics of controlling certain groups of people in society, in this case women.

    Efforts to control women and their resources through, for instance, the mechanism of law; as well as how discussions like these are foregrounded are especially problematic, if not entirely worrisome. Among others, there is no acknowledgement that the control of women’s bodies by the state is but another way in which men, as a group, reinforce their power in society through moral and legislative means, as much as it is to create a class of human beings unable to decide for themselves the best course of action about their own welfare. The disempowerment of women – and all peoples for that matter, is largely faciliated by arguments which not only presume their lack of agency but proceed to advise as to what they should or should not be doing, when, how and where.

    Not only are women able to and should, if they so desire, wear bikinis at nights but also nun’s habits and anything else they wish, and at any other time of the day, to boot!…My too cents worth!

  132. 132 Daniela Lorenz
    April 4, 2008 at 18:49

    I am orignally from Czechoslovakia, living in Germany since 1973 and before in Scotland 1968-1973. I am a representative of a generation who actually faught for the emancipation of women and sex before marriage etc. We also fought for the women not to be seen as sexual objects. Nowadays young women tred on these isuues – they are trying to be sexual objects – showing their breasts, the behind etc., first and formost the film stars who look like prostitutes. If there is a dress code for men there should be one for women as well.

  133. 133 Scott Millar
    April 4, 2008 at 18:49

    It is hard to even discuss this and not just laugh or slam the door. We went to the moon! We transplanted a face! Technology is apparently much quicker then culture. People who don’t think women can wear what they want, how they want, where they want and when they want are not worth engaging in a debate with.

    Women really are the last frontier of human rights!

    -Portland, Oregon

  134. 134 Tom
    April 4, 2008 at 18:50

    To blame women or men is ridiculous – both sexes have to take responsibility for their actions. Women for the way they dress, and they cannot deny the purpose is often to look as attractive as possible, and men who need to respond respectfully to the way women present themselves.

    The problem is not with the way people dress but with the way they behave.

  135. April 4, 2008 at 18:51

    Though I do agree that people(men and women) should exercise common sense when in how they choose to dress, those people who have problems with how certain women choose to dress, should cover their eyes, where a blind fold if they can not control their natural urges, put a bag over their heads etc.., but please do not ask someone else to sacrifice their liberty due to your own inadequacy.

    Washington D.C.

  136. April 4, 2008 at 18:51

    We can draw a line in business situations in which inappropriate behavior or distraction may be problematic, but I don’t think it’s otherwise acceptable for authoritarians to force total concealment of the human body. Is it still considered so shameful? If we must enforce something, how about laws against unwanted advances or disrespectful harassment? If a man can’t have the modicum of self-control, then the authorities can help them.

    Michael in Oregon

  137. April 4, 2008 at 18:52

    I have no problem with women walking around naked and natural if they want. What I think is irresponsible is women and men walking around wearing clothes that accentuate their sex. This is simply sexual provocation and we should have laws against such behaviour.


  138. April 4, 2008 at 18:52

    Women should dress properly. Indecency provokes men. Why should someone go to office or walk in the streets with her breasts out? A man who might probably have quarreled with his wife if looks at such breasts, he will start sweet-talking her and even use force if things will not go his way. And why should even a woman wear braided hair that runs down to the bottom. Women have to behave and dress well. African women should not bring us the western culture. We know what they have, so why should they show it out.

    Kimaiyo Minanyang, Nairobi, Kenya

  139. 139 Joy
    April 4, 2008 at 18:52

    In cultures that have religious laws, I find it repugnant that only women are required to dress modestly in order to prevent men from having sinful thoughts. As if only men’s souls are worth saving! Why aren’t men required to dress modestly to prevent arousal in women? It’s the same in almost every religion. Women are considered to be the root of all evil and that is what has to change, not the way people dress.

  140. April 4, 2008 at 18:52

    It is hard to even discuss this and not just laugh or slam the door. We went to the moon! We transplanted a face! Technology is apparently much quicker then culture. People who don’t think women can wear what they want, how they want, where they want and when they want are not worth engaging in a debate with.

    Women really are the last frontier of human rights!

    Portland, Oregon

  141. April 4, 2008 at 18:53

    I am listening to this program and really want to laugh at the idea that men cannot control themselves. The comment of American man and the two muslim men that they cannot control themselves is someone dress inappropriately is crazy. Are they humans or dogs? How one dresses is not the reason for violence against women. Rape is a case of violence against women not an act of secuality. Any therapist can tell about this.


  142. 142 Julia (Cleveland, Ohio)
    April 4, 2008 at 18:53

    A listener said “if you’re going to show it, we’re going to look.”

    I do not believe the issue is about looking. Women deserve the right to show what they want. And yes, if they show it, they should expect to be looked at. The issue is selfcontrol. Just because she shows her body does NOT give anyone the right to touch. If a woman cannot exist in society without threat of certain harassment, the nation has problems much larger than a dress code. No law can give a man self control if he had none before.

  143. April 4, 2008 at 18:53

    Women don’t dress up to stay in but to go out. Saying “I like to look good” means they like men to look at them with a gleam in the eye. Sexy dress on shapely females is not so much a fashion statement as a fashion question — “how would you like to f**k this?” Whether it’s asked consciously or not, the male replies consciously with an instinctual “now that’s an intriguing possibility”, either tacitly to himself overtly to the woman. Certainly it can’t be wrong to answer the question any more than it is to ask it.

    Jeffery J.

  144. 144 KiKi of London
    April 4, 2008 at 18:53

    A binkini at work- i think this topic is really going on a tangent! Women should dress professionally! I don’t think any government should tell their population how to dress- Morals should be integrated within Socailisation of the youth- Now all youth are in the Loook at Me phase that is disintegrating the Moral of our society.
    There is a time and place for everything- My boss should tell me what is acceptable for work dress
    The priest should note what is acceptable for church
    NO body should tell me how to dress if i’m going shopping or going to the pub.

  145. April 4, 2008 at 18:53

    There is world wide proof that how women dress affects mens’ abilities to reason. One of the reason for the ever greater failure of boys in western schools is that we have mixed them with girls and dropped school uniforms. Teenage boys are incapable of ignoring provocatively dressed girls and it distracts them from their studies.

    BC Canada

  146. April 4, 2008 at 18:53

    I personally assume that man and woman are equal. If a dressing is offensive for men, then there are dressing that are offensive for women. So, either we accept each other as we are or we all dress up with a burka. Offensiveness is relative to your own believes and traditions. I lived in Amsterdam for years and I recall that guy on a bicycle dressed only with a string underwear passing by for years. Should he been stopped?!? Why is it more acceptable at the beach weraing strings for both? Why should not we impose men to wear bra as well i case some women find tits offensive? You get it sounds so stupid, isn’t it? It is part of the freedom of expression. I think that Boileau was correct by saying: “individual freedom stops where the one of the other starts”. Just think about what we, man and woman, were implicitly allowed in Europe 40 years ago! That discussion goes on for ages indeed.


    Eric (Netherlands)

  147. 147 Nate, Portland OR
    April 4, 2008 at 18:54

    I couldn’t agree more with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Men should be expected to control their desires. I am, quite honestly, offended when I see a woman restrictively dressed (generally Muslim dress) that I’m insulted by what it says about me as a man. “Modest” dress is a relative thing. My wife grew up in Mumbai and she used to get cat-calls if she walked down the street in jeans. Here few people even look twice at her when she wears jeans.

    Women should be aware of the reaction they will get when they dress in particular ways in particular contexts. She should ALWAYS expect and demand that men treat her with decency so long as she isn’t gyrating in front of them, but obviously a decent woman will only dress provacatively in limited circumstances. A woman who dresses indecently will recieve social censure apart from the state. A woman who dresses too sexy at work is less likely to be respected for her intelligence.

    On the other hand, there is an advantage to being a beautiful woman, and that should not be taken away from her. Just as there is an advantage to being a big strong man. The beautiful woman should not mis-use her beauty, and the man should not mis-use his strength. They should still, however, be able to benefit from these things.

    The Islamic dress is an example of what can happen when too much of the responsibility for men’s behavior is placed on women. In an Islamic country a woman can’t go jogging in T-shirts and shorts on a warm day! Ridiculous!

    This “genetically programed” stuff is taken way to far by everybody who has mentioned it. Yes, a woman should be expected to not distract men from their work (I have far more complaints about too-strong perfume than revealing clothing!), but she should be able to wear things which she feels make her feel both attractive and appealing. A woman can dress in an attractive manner without signaling sexual availability, and if she can’t figure out the difference she’ll have to learn the hard way. “The hard way” is not rape and legal sanction. “The hard way” is polite requests to dress more modestly and a lack of respect.

  148. April 4, 2008 at 18:54

    Sorry bbc, horrible things are happening in the name of human rights,be advised please. It’s nudity. Your guest,the Nigerian lady should stop the hypocracy.

    Thomas in London

  149. April 4, 2008 at 18:55

    No dress laws for EITHER SEX! Such laws just enable the behavior/attitudes that cause problems – by placing the blame. So much of modern culture has hang ups around sexuality. These is just a cultural hang up issue. Many unmodernized cultures do not have these issues. I have been in many revealing dressed (even nude) situations that did not turn sexual because all involved refused to act upon these hang ups.


    Noal in Portland, US

  150. 150 Barbara Wiltshire
    April 4, 2008 at 18:55

    If a man drives an obscenely expensive car through the streets of Harlem (or anywhere), are people justified in attacking and destroying the car? It seems to me there is an analogy to a woman dressing provocatively. Both are instances of flaunting power and neither can be regulated.

  151. April 4, 2008 at 18:55

    The reason I take offense to women dressed scandalously is because the very act of dressing this way promotes the notion that women are most importantly sexual objects.

    san francisco

  152. 152 T Bone
    April 4, 2008 at 18:56

    People should dress in accordance with the culture they are in, whether that be the work place, a bar/ resteraunt, the beach, or the church. If people choose not to dress appropriately in the context they are in, they lack tact, grace, and style. However, under no circumstances should governments mandate dress codes for its people, that is a preposterous notion. Afghanistan, under the leadership of the Taliban, is an example of a govenment that has stripped its people of personal freedoms, such as the freedom for women to wear what they want!

  153. 153 Jester
    April 4, 2008 at 19:01

    If women can wear plunging neckline and mini skirt to work, men should be allowed to wear shorts and shirt without them uncomfortable neck tie. Simply, as one of blogger put, men and women are equal in the West.

  154. April 4, 2008 at 19:09

    @Why is it ok for men to dress indecently and no one talks about it yet for the women people make such a big fuss and what exactly is indecent dressing.

    Elsa in Uganda

  155. 155 steve
    April 4, 2008 at 19:09

    I agree with Daniela who said: “We also fought for the women not to be seen as sexual objects. Nowadays young women tred on these isuues – they are trying to be sexual objects – showing their breasts, the behind etc., first and formost the film stars who look like prostitutes. If there is a dress code for men there should be one for women as well.


    If you look at magazines directed at girls and women, it’s all about the superficial, and getting attention from men. The young girl magazines teach women to look pretty, to use their sex appeal, but to not have sex, but to get the attention and material things. THe adult women magazines are more superficial, as adult women have more money to spend, and everything is about sex, and what you should get guys to buy for you, how to manipulate using sex, etc..

    As much as I cannot stand religion, I do think some people need it, to prevent personal catastrophe. Something tells me that muslim women who cover up have a lot higher self esteem than women in the west who wear visible thongs, charging for sexual favors in middle school bathrooms, or release a sex video becuase they feel like they want some attention or spring start their “career”. The self esteem of women in the west tends to be rock bottom and what little they have comes from male attention.

  156. April 4, 2008 at 19:15

    I don t think international intervention is necessery in Zimbabwe…Official result from the election is more important!

    Kabir Idris Pindiga, Gombe-Nigeria.

  157. April 4, 2008 at 19:15

    I am Emmanuel M. Kamara in Freetown, Sierra Leone
    For me personally, I regreted the decision of ZANU PF to back Robert Mugabe in a possible run-off because
    I don’t see what Mugabe has to offer to Zimbabweans again. In 28 years he has not done much for the country which has now the highest inflation in the world. A new political dispensation should be allowed to take over which is in Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC. Women should not be allowed to wear anything because some of them lack sense of modesty. Dressing in a shaby way makes men to look at women lustfully, and this is mental sexual harassment.


  158. 158 Robert, Canada
    April 4, 2008 at 19:37

    Fundamantally, a person can do whatever he or she wishes as long as it does no harms to his or herself, the environment and other living things. Certainly, when this is not the case, there will be consequences. As far as the dress code is concerned. The problem is the uneducated and ignorant observers not the dresser. Having said that, a person cannot but be mindful since there are just too many uneducated and ignorant people out there.

  159. 159 Laura in Minneapolis
    April 4, 2008 at 20:02

    Nice speaking with everyone today on air!

    Laura in Minneapolis

  160. 160 Jackson Ajou
    April 4, 2008 at 20:32

    Societies differ from country to country as well as the traditions and the modernization throughout the world and this shouldn’t be an issue of generalization. the order of the world traditions are determined in a way that, some other communities adopt and integrate into their local tradition dresses if this does not really affects their way of the dressing traditionally and if it is accepted in their locality. this means that, some women dresses are controlled by traditions, religions/faith therefore issue of uniformity may not be applicable.

    Khartoum, Sudan

  161. 161 Katharina
    April 4, 2008 at 21:09

    I do not quite understand this talking about modesty. Does it mean that all women who wear a veil are modest? And does it mean that women who don’t cover themselves are immodest per se? Don’t you think that modesty has to do with our inner attitudes? What about men’s modesty? They should simply stop looking at women instead of forcing them wear a veil.

    Men who want women to cover themselves seem to have problems with their own sexuality. When they feel aroused by a woman, they are not married to, they obviously think it is the woman who makes them feel like this. It is the woman’s fault. Instead of facing their own feelings, they project their conflict on to the woman.

    Men are supposed to learn to control themselves and those who are incapable to do this, should be treated in a psychiatric ward.

    It helps if boys and girls grow up with each other instead of seperating them.

  162. 162 George USA
    April 4, 2008 at 21:12



    K SCHNEIDER-since when is the BBC a debating society for Sharia law?

    Maybe this is good for Muslim women to talk about?


    Sioux- Infants will urinate and defecate where they sit. Adults are expected to control body functions, including sexual response.

    Good one.

    It’s been a life-long sentence. There’s no ‘Get out of jail free’ card for rape survivors.

    No, it is not. You do not have to be a lifetime victim. Forget it. Press on.
    You are OK now and that is the end of it.


    Tahl – pashtoon and saudi wives

    Multiple wives sounds fun- a Japanese and a Latina would be a good combo


    Katharine- sequestered, required to wear blinders or other hooding devices


    John Mihaljevic- solution is to castrate men

    have at it John, pass here

  163. April 4, 2008 at 21:21

    Wow, So many things points.

    First, If people are going to use the “hard wired”, “genetic”, and “hormonal” excuse, they had best be prepared to accept all that the science implies. We are also “hard wired” to kill anything that we perceive to be a threat. It is part of our genetic drive to lie, cheat, and steal to obtain food. Our hormonal ancestry drives us to kill a weaker member of our society eat their young, and impregnate their wives with our genes to ensure our immortality. Homosexuality, cruelty, and infidelity are all part of out genetic inheritance. You can’t pick and choose which ones you “just accept” and which ones you deny. Can you make a rule that nobody can own a BMW, Lexus, Porsche, or a Ford Escort GT with out risking somebody stealing it. Do you realize how many women I could impress with a Ford Escort GT? Especially if it had some of the cool spinning rims that make it look like it’s moving when it is standing still?

    Secondly, we are talking about an African country. Now this might be a bit stereotypical, and I will try to offend some of you less next time. But, aren’t we talking about a continent where tribes still exist where the men wear penal gourds, women never wear tops, people believe you can cure AIDS by having sex with a virgin, and you can still buy a wife with a few dog’s teeth? (Actually saw this on “living with the Mek. They thought it was funny when one of the guys sad something about buying a women with a chicken. Turns out that is just crazy talk trying to buy a woman with a chicken. Everybody knows you need dog’s teeth to buy a woman.) Really, all the hardships and turmoil going on around the continent, and this lady is worried about how women dress? If I paid taxes to this lady I would ask for her salary to be retuned.

    Lastly, if your wife or girlfriend has a problem with you looking at a scantily clad attractive woman, then the problem is between you and your wife. If for some reason she believes that your relationship is so shallow and fragile that a woman simply walking by wearing revealing cloths is enough to make you want to leave her, then you two needs to work on the trust factor in your relationship. If that doesn’t work, you could always slap her around and tell her to shut up. That is “hard wired” into our genes too.

  164. April 4, 2008 at 22:30

    BIG Up Scott, T Bone and Robert, especially! I rather enjoyed reading your views on this subject! Some of the others were a little funny, if not entirely worrisome, specifically those which sought to construct men as automatons with very little control over their biological abilities. That is never a good thing!

    Thanks for humour WHYS! The reality is that women’s rights (as well as how we discuss these issues), are human rights. Plain and simple!

  165. 165 steve
    April 4, 2008 at 23:46

    @ Katharina:

    “Men are supposed to learn to control themselves and those who are incapable to do this, should be treated in a psychiatric ward.

    It helps if boys and girls grow up with each other instead of seperating them.”

    The problem today is that young girls are dressing like strippers, and are having sex even before they hit 13 these days. If that’s helping “boys and girls grow up with each other” then it’s working really well.








    These stories are frightening.

  166. 166 steve
    April 4, 2008 at 23:55

    @ Joy

    “In cultures that have religious laws, I find it repugnant that only women are required to dress modestly in order to prevent men from having sinful thoughts. As if only men’s souls are worth saving! Why aren’t men required to dress modestly to prevent arousal in women? It’s the same in almost every religion. Women are considered to be the root of all evil and that is what has to change, not the way people dress.”

    It starts a slippery slope. If women start having sex early, there will be more single mothers. Though it doesn’t promise a better behaved kids, generally, it’s important for a kid to be raised by both parents. Statistics show that kids raised by single mothers tend to be more maladjusted, enter crime more, and if they have kids, will tend to not stick around, and if you have a whole society of people like this, it will cause a breakdown. You don’t have to be religious (I’m practically a militant athiest, and never hesitate to offend religious people) to realize it’s a very valid concern. When girls start dressing “sluttily”, they start acting the role, and the self esteem drops, leading to being more sexual to get male attention, leading to more chance of being a single mother, dropping out of school, living their lives alone (not by choice). If a man has a choice between a single mother and a woman who doesn’t have a kid, most of the time he will want the woman without a kid. I’m not saying the responsibility remains entirely with women, but wearing thongs at age 8, and showing your bare midriff at 12, usually leads to “being popular” by having sex at 14, and we all know teens make some pretty stupid mistakes. Having a kid at 16 will affect your life, a lot.

  167. 167 Hal R. in Ohio
    April 5, 2008 at 07:09

    I’ve not heard anyone on the broadcast discuss the MOTIVE of the person who dresses in a sensual or provocative attire. It seems to me that someone who dresses in this way is trying to draw attention to their sexuality. That’s fine at a party or other place where they want to get attention or “advertise” their availability. But an office workplace, for example, has a purpose far removed from social interaction of the workers. And to dress provocatively in a public place where you don’t know who you’re exciting or how much is just bad judgement. I hear that some people feel men should have better control of their sexual drive and emotions. Sorry, the fact is many don’t.

    Not that it is an excuse for men who can’t control themselves but it has been said that “The stronger sex is actually the weaker sex because of it’s weakness for the weaker sex.”

    I’m quite thankful that most people I see choose to be adequately covered with clothing and leave something to the imagination.

    The topic seems to surround a dress code for women. I hope that when the code is hammered out it’s applied equally to borh sexes. On second thought, scratch that idea. I’m keeping my clothes on.

  168. April 5, 2008 at 08:01

    Women should not have to worry about what they wear or not wear. A woman can be tastefully revealing of their body as they want. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Eye candy is very pleasing. We all are compelled to look at what we want and look away from what we don’t. Many kind and gracious women are accommodating, inspiring suppressed emotions and thoughts. That to me is genus at heart.

    It isn’t what a person wears or doesn’t wear. The problem is the behaviour of the public to what a person wears or doesn’t wear, that should be in question. A nude picture who would cover it up or why that is the problem that should be addressed, not nudity.

    I saw some painted women in public, women wearing just painted on clothes and by majority, not many took notice. We came into the world wearing nothing and we were accepted, revered and loved. Some bodies are maintained at such perfections, it is a sin that they should be covered at all.

  169. April 5, 2008 at 09:07

    While living in India some years back, one hot summer afternoon, I was walking in a very popular shopping district in Delhi. Narrow streets bordered by narrow sidewalks bordering all manner of shops, hotels, restaurants, businesses; people, cars and carts, rickshaws and elephants carpeted the pavement in a slowly moving stream of color and noise. Ahead of me walked a group of six young women, obviously European and obviously dressed as such: miniskirts and low-cut string tops showing what belongs back home. Inching its way towards us through the crowd, came a shiny brand-new red convertible full to the brim of rowdy red-blooded Indian young men. Well, the inevitable happened! The young men spotted the young women, the car stopped and, red-blood racing, the males overpowered the females on a free-for-all in plain sight of the Paharganj shopping crowd. Apparently, short of public rape, they held to no bounds! The European maidens squealed and screamed, shoppers watched and giggled, shopkeepers watched and laughed! No one made a move to interfere. For a short while all activity stopped except the melee on the sidewalk. Then, as fast as they came, the young men ran back to their shiny red car and drove away into a crowd that parted only too glad to have them get away! The young women composed themselves as best they could and hurried away. Shaking heads and shrugging shoulders, shopkeepers returned to their shops, shoppers went on about their chores, life returned to its normal noisy and busy pace, and I wondered to myself how the young women would dress henceforth while in India…
    That’s one incident I watched. Countless others I heard about weren’t so harmless. The rape of young western women, unsuitably clad and thoughtlessly exhibiting themselves, is far too common an occurrence in Asia, far too often ending in accidental or intended homicide. Unintentionally and blissfully ignorant, young European women set themselves up as bait. placing temptation on the devil’s path! What else should they expect thenm while in countries where most males are virgin till their wedding night! “If tourists do not abide by and respect the local dress code, or the common sense code of conduct governing the behavior of guests, then they best be ready to take whatever they get!”
    A dress code is not a legal issue and certainly it should not be up to the law to enforce it. Guests in a country have the responsibility to acknowledge and respect the mores and customs and cultural sensibilities of the host country. We in the West become guilty of ignorance and of hubris when, as guests, we disregard and dismiss local customs and offer offense to our hosts. The issue here pertains to the good manners, downright courtesy and plain civility expected of guests anywhere. When a country finds it necessary to enact a law about it, it is the conduct, civility and manners of its guests that are being described.
    Before we can consider ourselves civilized, it behooves us to behave in a civilized manner. To do otherwise is to exhibit the behavior of barbarians.

  170. April 5, 2008 at 09:58

    The limit of freedom is where it encroaches on someone else’s freedom. A woman should be free to dress the way she wants (including wearing a headscarf). But men should also have the freedom NOT TO SEE naked and semi-naked women walking around in town and on billboards. What is acceptable also varies according to location and the society in which one moves. Modesty is a virtue and only modest women are truely beautiful.

  171. 171 M.L.
    April 5, 2008 at 10:00

    So, does the story above describe a “barbaric” society that tolerates the public physical attack of one group of people by another group of people solely because of how one group of people dresses? Or does the above scene describe more about the society, what its collective values are, and what it tolerates. That the scene described happened in a society with a famously blatant caste system might give you a hint.

    Let me ask another question — in societies where women are sequestered, kept covered, indoors and separated and a single sex, male public society is created, adult men are famous for using young boys and teenage boys for sex. Is it because of how the boys dress, or does it have something to do with the choices made by the society? Read Turkish nobel-prize winner Orhan Pamuk’s novel “My Name is Red” and you will be reminded that use of boys in this way in societies where women are domestically imprisoned is as old as millennia. Again, for all of these centuries the vulnerable (be they women, girls, boys, lower castes) are used by the powerful, and all sorts of excuses may be given about why they were “asking for it” but these excuses are all lies to give those in power excuse to dominate the less powerful: soldiers committing rape of communities they overrun, the rich raping the poor and powerless, male prisoners, who have no women around, raping weaker prisoners. Is it because of how those weaker male prisoners are dressing in prison?

    Once a girl who wore a headscarf gave the explanation that she was a “precious jewel” and so must be covered. I had two questions for her: whose precious jewel? And my young son was the most precious person on earth to me. Was there some outward way — some piece of cloth, some behavior that I could impose — that could protect him from life’s vicissitudes? If one day he was walking down the street and a thug beat and robbed him, would his society say he was “asking for it” by being on the street, by being out, by wearing blue jeans? Would society stay he belongs indoors at all times, otherwise he’s fair game?

    In terms of women who are raped, many cultures believe the above openly. In the U.S. and U.K., many people believe it privately.

    How anyone promoting dress codes explains the elderly women in their apartments who are raped by intruders I don’t know.

  172. April 5, 2008 at 11:02

    @ laura, Savanna and Lubna

    it was great speaking to you on air yesterday, sorry if i didn’t make much sense with my points, i was a little bit flustered, since i was trying to cook my dinner and debate at the same time!

    to make my points clearer:
    1. when a state imposes a law on dress codes it has much wider ramifications than just stopping women wearing short skirts. it implies that enforcement tactic which have been recently used such as ripping off womens clothes are legitimate
    2. with regards to savanna’s point about sexy padded bra’s and children, unfortunatly i think that results from over sexualised fashion icons which children now follow. But fashion has always been outrageous. in the uk the mini skirt was invented in the 1970s, so it has been around over for 30 years.
    3. as i said on air the reason why lubna wears a head scarf, and why i might choose to wear a mini skirt when i go out, is because it is part of our self identity. I don’t wear a mini skirt because i think it will make men look at me better. (although flirting is allowed and when i was single, it was enjoyed too!!) I wear a mini skirt because i believe i look nice in one and it is part of my dressing up and going out identity. Lubna wears a headscarf because of a similar reason, although the mini skirt has no religious reasonning behind it, lubna seemed to me to feel that her headscarf gave her independence and an identity, she could not have got if she chose not to wear it.

    hope that makes sense and have a good weekend all!!

  173. 173 Shakhoor Rehman
    April 5, 2008 at 11:43

    Women’s fashions are produced by men and women with men in mind. Men’s fashions are produced mainly by men with men in mind. I think if Roz Atkins ,for example, was to turn up for work wearing a bikini he would be either demoted or fired and probably sectioned under the uk’s mental health legislation (if he has not been already;-)). Seriously, I think our planet is a primitive civilization where double standards rule. Equal rights for people do not thrive with ease in such an environment.

  174. April 5, 2008 at 12:44

    I would like to propose that women be given equal rights as men in every aspect of life. However, I have and continue to observed this issue of dress code about women. In public places and so on, some women choose to expose their nudity while men never. Why? I think women should get to understand that we men love them even without exposing their private parts. This is the precious part about a woman and I do not thing women should dress in a manner that will expose it to everybody. Ones nudity is precious and it should be expose to only your partner not others.

    I decided to propose this idea, because since I was born, I have never seeing a man or boy half nicked (exposing his private part or sex) publicly, but I have seeing many beautiful girls doing so, why?

    Women come on do other things order than exposing yours sex, it is precious and it should be kept private for your partner or partners.

    Women remember you are precious and so please do precious things. I am really embarrase when ever I see the nudity of a woman that is not mine. I think if this is your right, you abuse mine while exercising yours. So please take it easy.

  175. 175 'Emeka Ulor
    April 5, 2008 at 13:08

    I totally support the bill.If you were in Nigeria today you must.
    I graduated from the Imo State University in 2006 and am currently on National Service.I saw hell in the University and other higher institutions.Girls are so useless fashion-wise here in Nigeria. They have copied the American dresscode to the extent that it has become outrageous. Everyday I see bare breasts, protruding nipples, navels , tattooed buttocks all in the name of fashion. These “call girls” (what they look like) prefer to carry scarves in the bags to tie around their waist to cover their shame instead of dressing properly from home.The entice the lecturers and the male students.
    I was shocked when one Charity on the BBC WHYS said she has never seen and indecent dressed woman in Nigeria! Perhaps she should say she has never visited the country in the last Five years.
    Because of these provocative,indecent and intimidating dressings, my entire extended family banned ladies from wearing trousers.It has helped a lot. we need such laws in Nigeria.Remember that the law stipulates punishment for people who seek sex for favour from women.

    I am tired of these rubbish.I hate to see Britney spears in my classroom,on my street. they should go to the pubs.

  176. 176 viola anderson
    April 5, 2008 at 18:34

    Whenever I think about this issue and after reading the very thoughtful comments on this blog, I wonder if the argument about men being hardwired to jump any woman that attracts his sexual attention is true. If that premise is accepted, what is the solution, assuming we believe it needs a solution? Some Nigerians believe a law must be passed to prevent women from tempting men by dressing in a revealing way. The Saudis and others carry that solution to its ridiculous extreme, making their women virtually invisible except in very particular circumstances, such as in the home, and not permitting their women to talk to or even look at any male other than a relative.

    I see two assumptions being made here. One says that it is O.K. and, from the male perspective, desirable for men to have this particular characteristic of wanting to jump any female in sight. The other assumption is that if the temptation of the revealed female is removed from their sight, that males are then freed of this constant distraction and able to think of something other than sex for more than 15 minutes at a time. Personally, I question both of those assumptions and, apparently, so do many men on this blog.

    I certainly do agree that sex is a powerful drive to ensure the continuation of the species. That is not a moral issue. By making it a moral issue of blame one of the sexes attempts to solve the problems created by the sex drive of males by projecting onto the female the blame and insisting that the problem can only be solved by placing severe restrictions on the females. On the contrary; the problem of male sex drive getting out of control will only be solved when males accept responsibility for their actions. Then, and only then, will solutions be found.

    Women who accept that reasoning are the ones who reject the stereotyping of men as the oppressor and who get on with their lives regardless of those men who actually fit that stereotype.

    Men need to do the same with respect to their sexual drive. Stop stereotyping women and get on with your lives regardless of those women who actually fit those stereotypes.

    And constantly pointing out examples of women or men who fit the stereotypes does not prove the stereotype is the reality.

  177. 177 Robert, Canada
    April 5, 2008 at 18:55

    If nakedness is the norm, dressed person is absurd. The dress-up must have started when there was a need, ie, ice age. The seeds in the development of different dress codes can be traced to one simple need, “control”, which is of a politic (religion is politic.) in nature. The fundamental of politic is the affair between two persons. People who have problem with the behavior of others must examine their minds first to see why they are polluted with the need of “control”. Shame on all the agitators for their “dirty” minds!

  178. 178 Dave
    April 5, 2008 at 20:22

    “Woman, if you want your rights, keep your dignity”

    What a load of nonsense. What has dignity got to do with clothing? Who cares if people go around naked? What you wear or don’t wear has nothing to do with how you are as a person.

    If you are so insecure that you can’t suffer a naked body in your immediate vicinity then you have no place in any evolved society.

    Religion is not the guide to a solution, religion is the problem. If not for the ridiculous laws made up by organised religions to control their enslaved populations we wouldn’t have half of the problems we have in the world today. I’m not saying people shouldn’t have faith or that there is no God etc, but how can you worship a God that supposedly out laws natural human instincts like sex. Sex is not evil it is not the work of the devil it is natural and whole world of fun.

    Women should be allowed to wear whatever the like. If they dressed provocatively that’s their decision. Who are men to suggest they are superior enough to tell women what to do? If a man can’t control himself at the sight of a woman’s flesh this is not her fault. I am a man and if I see a semi-naked women I do not feel the need to rape her. I may enjoy the sight if she is attractive, I may even speak to her as a result but never would it cross my mind to force her into having sex.

    So what if a women goes out with the aim of having sex, are women not entitled to the same level of fun as men. It seems many have the attitude that it’s cool for guys to sleep with as many women as they can but it is undignified for women to sleep around. This is completely wrong women should enjoy the most basic and fun activity we humans have as much as any man.

  179. 179 Xie_Ming
    April 6, 2008 at 01:03

    Even ploddingly belaboring the obvious with frustrated bias is welcome at this stage of the blog’s development.

    One must realistically recognize the different cultures have different norms and that hectoring will only afford some personal release to the frustrations of the hector.

    To see the see similar techniques applied within one’s own culture, check the works of the best-selling author, Margret Atwood.

    Feminist views are presented in some of the 1800 courses available for free downloading from MIT:


  180. 180 Papa Hopkins
    April 6, 2008 at 05:21

    Over are the Victorian days when even the legs of a piano are draped . At this time and age women all over the world should be able to wear whatever they see fit (no pun intended). The beauty of a woman is a joy forever. The fundamentalists need to set aside their fear of Eve, she is after all the origin of life. Wake up and smell the flowers.

  181. 181 ichi
    April 6, 2008 at 10:48

    Those countries where women dress “modestly” have more rapes and abuses against human rights for women than those tolerant with clothing variety.

    I wonder if going to the doctor in Nigeria leads to rape, as apparently people there do not possess any kind of criteria regarding what to do when they see some human flesh.

  182. 182 LS
    April 6, 2008 at 18:40

    Women themselves are saying: “I think women dressing modestly helps them not to become a sexual item”

    Does British Airways endorse the mini skirt? or belly-button showing tops? or do they have a dress code that customers expect?

    Are lifeguards to wear pants?

    Are teachers allowed shorts?

    Are civil servants allowed shorts?

    Dress sends a message. Freedom to wear what we want is great. But limits a person puts on themselves will bring respect. Is that not true?

  183. 183 savane
    April 6, 2008 at 20:12

    To put voices to names I know only from the WHYS blog was great! Thanks! I wish we’d had more time.

    To the bloggers who think that a woman’s clothes create reverse sexual harassment or are an invitation to assault or rape: who knew that inanimate objects had such powerful mind control?! Why would you give yourself up to another person so easily? I still insist, our reactions as humans are a personal choice. We don’t have to act on the feeling!

    Dress codes at work will always exist. As a consultant, I was advised to dress for the client’s environment. That included no heels if you went to see a farmer, never to trousers for women and white, cream or blue shirts only for men!

    While lobbying parliamentarians (mostly male) for the Sexual Offences Act, we were asked to wear skirts below our knees! Had to buy that skirt!

    It didn’t hurt me to dress to ‘the code’ because the objectives I set with the people I had to interact with, were achieved.

    And to ‘George in the USA’: Thank you. I know that you are right, but it has not been as simple as turning off a light switch. Some smells, sounds and sights still take me back to the rape Since I faced it 5 years ago, I don’t ‘go back to jail’ as often.


    Because I chose to take back control of life. I’m a work in progress!

    Nairobi Kenya

  184. 184 Margaret McConchie
    April 6, 2008 at 23:40

    I am always interested in how people view the Law. God alone is the Law giver, and He gave it to show humankind that without Him and His power it is impossible to keep. Force has never worked and will never work. Why? Because it devalues people to the point where someone else takes on that responsibility to choose between right and wrong for them. (Obedient parents are qualified to train their children,) but this is an adult world of people able to make good choices, we are referring to here. You may ask, ” Why shouldn’t I choose whatever I want?, because every choice we make affects someone else either adversely or beneficially”. This negates that person and reduces them to an object to be controlled and manipulated. No one has ever been given that task. We are all people who are given the opportunity to choose between right and wrong, and who one day are going to be called on to give an account for themselves. To choose to violate God’s Law brings condemnation within and unease without. To continue to violate ourselves or others brings a conscience that is dead, controlling, cruel, unforgiving, and unloving. Lust can then be the motivator instead of purity and love, and a clear conscience. We all need the Law of God because otherwise each man/woman/child is going to do only what they want to do that is ‘right’ in their own eyes. This has resulted in wars and rumours of wars and every imaginable abomination known to man. God’s standard is purity, and enjoying the Life that He has given to the full; not oblivion. Life controlled by self and its selfishness results in degradation, separation and alienation. So take back your God given right to be a son/daughter of the living God and don’t be deceived into following anything or anyone else.

  185. 185 Elias
    April 7, 2008 at 00:12

    If the court becomes aware of a woman dressed in a highly seductive way the Judge will most probably rule against her. However where do you draw the line as one man’s meat is another man’s poison, after all since ancient times women have always tried to be seductive that has been her perogative. One cant cant catch a fish without using the right bait. Elias

  186. 186 Sulayman Dauda
    April 7, 2008 at 07:07

    A dress is the most comon practice that differentiate us with apes.

  187. April 7, 2008 at 10:08

    Concentrating on how women dress (as with any other trivial matter) is a wonderful way to detract the attention of a people (in any country, any historical era). Manipulate the masses with such non-issues, and you allow the powers that be a free hand to ignore or mismanage the issues that generate the anger that needed to be focused on unimportant things in the first place.

    Whether here in the United States, Europe, or any other quarter, leaders deeply in over their heads have resorted to hot button issues for centuries for one simple reason: make the angry populace angry at somebody else and forget that you’re mismanaging your society.

    I don’t imagine that anybody in Nigeria is considering legislation to deal with the type of man who would rape a woman (then blame it on her dress)? Or maybe worry about how the decent man is struggling in a hardship troubled country to feed the wife and children he cherishes?

  188. April 7, 2008 at 11:39

    In this civilizing world of ours, we find ourselves in one mighty prison called the Globe…and it is high time we realize that we have more pressing issues to tackle as well as enjoy than the restriction or legislation on the dressing of women.

    Women are equal shareholders in this world of ours and so should be left to determine what they wear using their descretion based on where they find themselves.

    It is even more intereting when we see women dress in all sorts of STYLES as variety is the spice of life.

    In the face of war, violence, crime and other vices around the globe, let us enjoy the time we have with the women having their freedom to dress the way they want… Life is good! Let us enjoy every bit of it.

    Mike Okwoche-Benin City, Nigeria

  189. 189 janet bratter
    April 8, 2008 at 06:41

    On Turbans, Top-hats, and Modesty

    Usually I make a point of reading most if not all of the previous posts on any particular issue before contributing my two cents. But in this instance I don’t want to impede a direct and independent response.

    The first thing I want to observe is in regards to how you are posing the question. Surely you don’t believe that there is a universal understanding of the term “modest”. However by putting the question as you have the implication is that there is a common understanding of what constitutes “modest” when in fact there is not.

    Whether you are seeking to provide a common definition in all current cultures, or whether you attempt to expand the definition that crosses historical boundaries, you will not find a common understanding of the term, “modest”.

    And why limit the question to what women should wear? If the question was expanded to what “people” should wear then perhaps a more meaningful dialogue could ensue.

    For instance, does anyone ever put the question why such uniformity in men’s (business) attire is tolerated? A man wearing a long-sleeved shirt , tie, and coat in the dead of summer is ALMOST as stupid as a veiled woman in the desert covered head to toe in black.

    The “dominent paradigm” in a growing number of cultures would have it that women are provocateurs whose primary function is to whip men into fits of raging testosterone driven frenzy. And because men are so completely incapable of self-control, they feel completely justified controlling and oppressing “their” women.

    Perhaps if men would loosen that noose around their necks called the necktie, more blood would get to their brains and more enlightened ideas might emerge.

    And for those men who wear turbans, top-hats, fezes and mitres you might want to let your fevered brains cool off once in awhile by removing your traditional headgear.

    Maybe then you’ll remember that we are all born naked.

    Get over it.

    Janet Bratter

  190. April 8, 2008 at 19:02

    Only if we can tell men what to wear and boy oh boy are there a lot of men out there who really really do need to get some style!!! We’re faced with builder bum, sweat pant droop, tight shirts stretching over bulging stomachs, tight jeans – we don’t really want to see everything, stained zippers (yes guys you do need to shake it!). Modesty has nothing to do with this issue really, it’s all about control. ment believing they have the right to exercise control over woman by telling them how to dress, what to eat, when to work, etc.
    Give us a break – women of the world today are bright, intelligent, articulate, independent and stylish. We are perfectly capable of making up our own minds on what is modest to wear and believe it or not most of us do!
    thank you

  191. 191 Jeff Minter
    April 8, 2008 at 21:30

    Women should be able to wear what they want, just don’t complain when you are sexually harassed several times throughout the day, all because you were wearing that oh so short skirt.

  192. 192 Laura in Minneapolis
    April 9, 2008 at 14:28

    @ Hannah,

    Don’t worry, you sounded brilliant. I had the same, multi-tasking flustered feeling as I was trying to finish homework before class while on air. It was good speaking with you!

    Laura in Minneapolis

  193. 193 Sandra Patricia, Colombia
    April 9, 2008 at 18:38

    “If a man cannot control himself at the sight of a woman, the solution is not to veil the woman but to castrate the man.” John Mihaljevic, 2008.

    Amazing! 🙂
    The actual problem is not what women wear: You can see many places where they wear provocative clothing and they do not drive men crazy, or are not necessarily harassed. Changes in clothing style may help focusing on women not as sexual objects but as people who keep their “own territory” to be respected, not in exhibition. Nevertheless, it seems not to be an accurate way to stop raping. What’s the average profile of women who are sexually attacked? What do sex offenders want from their victims but their fear? Usually what seems difficult for them is what attrack them most… Then women’s dressing style is not the real problem.

    What about men? Should only women take measures? What about the attackers? Are they really being punished?

  194. 194 Sheryl Stark
    April 9, 2008 at 21:53

    I believe that women should dress as they please. However, as female citizen of the United I feel as if I am forced to dress the way that nearly all women here do – high heels, stockings, dresses or skirts, make up, rather tight and sometimes short clothes, bras, shaved legs and arm pits, etc. Why do men find this bondage dress sexy? What does that say about men? Why dress this way? Why don’t men dress this way?I can see why drag queens do it – men aren’t supposed to dress this way. Or that women in countries where this dress is forbidden might find this attractive because they can’t do it, either. But why do women do it? I prefer to wear pants and shirts and simple shoes or sandals. And I don’t shave my body. This seems to be considered unusual and sometimes I feel discriminated against. Maybe I would rather wear a burka. Or go nude as I do at home.

  195. 195 Dennis Young, Jr.
    May 9, 2008 at 00:55

    i think the women can dress in any way they want too!

    dennis~madrid, united states of america

  196. 196 JAE
    July 29, 2008 at 18:41

    Women need to consider that how they dress WILL affect men (who might happen to be other women’s husbands). Would you like your boyfriend or husband druling over another woman? I think not! Women should keep their sensuality for their own husbands (or future husbands as it might be). I’m all for dress-codes here in America – before women start running around nude and think nothing of it. If women would stop dressing like pieces of meat, maybe they won’t be treated like such!

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